Annual Production (Grand Vin)
Head designer of fashion label Chanel Karl Lagerfeld was brought in to create a label for the 2009 vintage, which was released in 2011 to celebrate 350 years of winemaking at the property.
The influence of Chanel is apparent everywhere, from the interiors of buildings to the label of the Grand Vin itself (designed by Chanel designer Karl Largerfeld, no less), and no doubt it’s the financial clout of the fashion house that is slowly and steadily pulling the estate back up to its former glory. Plus, its own history aside, Rauzan Segla is no doubt hampered by the wider image of Margaux being an inconsistent appellation compared to others in the region.
There has also been some consternation regarding its pricing structure, which some have dubbed inconsistent and overly ambitious – perhaps indicative of the estate’s desire to attain a higher classification? However, while Rauzan-Segla sits underneath the likes of Chateaux Margaux and Palmer, it certainly looms above the bulk of the cru classes in the region.
While the estate could, perhaps, make more of its association with luxury brand Chanel, it does appear to be getting back on track, and has climbed slowly by surely up value indexes, to position itself firmly as one to watch.
While the chateau’s 19th century wines are the stuff of legend, quality took a turn for the worse during the 1960s and ‘70s – and indeed through much of the ‘80s. Replicating its previous applause has been a slow process for the chateau, but some vintages of the last couple of decades have been well-received.
Critics, however, appear to be divided. While James Suckling has bestowed consistently high scores (92 for the 2008 vintage, 97 for the 2009 and 98 for the 2010, for example) Robert Parker has been harder to please, awarding 90+, 95 and – surprisingly – 89 points respectively.
However, the (quickly diminishing) confusion and uncertainty around the estate means there’s good quality wine on offer for good value – especially for a super-second. Most critics agree on the 2009 vintage, which has nearly doubled in value over the last four years, while its latest 2013 release has score solidly across the board, and could well be worth investing in before the chateau returns full-time to its former glory.
The first vines were planted on the property in 1661, but the official birthdate of Chateau Rauzan-Segla is 1763, when it split from the neighbouring Rauzan-Gassies. The estate was gradually partitioned through successive generations of the Rauzan family, but its reputation grew, and come its classification in 1855, it shared the Deuxieme Grand Cru Classe stage with the likes of Chateau Mouton Rothschild (which was promoted 118 years later). Its late 19th century wines have become legendary.
However, any subsequent success was besieged with obstacles – a decline in area under vine, obsolete cellar equipment and a proprietor who prioritised quantity over quality, to name but a few – and soon Rauzan Segla was overtaken by other second growth chateaux.
The estate then came into the hands of negociant Echenhauer, who initiated a program of renovation, expanding the vineyard, replacing old, fruitless vines and installing modern stainless steel tanks. Subsequent owners have continued improvements, helping to consolidate the Grand Vin as a true super-second, and in 1994 the property was taken over by the Alain and Gerard Wertheimers, grandsons of Chanel founder Pierre Wertheimer, giving the estate an injection of luxury.