Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rauzan-Segla Tasting At WineRoute (July 28, 2009)

The winery claims that Thomas Jefferson regarded this Margaux Second Growth very highly. Me, I've always been an Aaron Burr fan.

Name dropping heckling aside, while the tasting was a highly educational experience, and while I enjoyed the wine's elegance and classicism, I didn't exactly depart with an itch I just had to scratch. Although I wouldn't kick the 1996 out of my fridge, you know. But overall, I think the Rauzlan-Segla is a very good wine, just not a must-have.

Aromatically, most of the vintages are of a kind: the fruit profile strikes a nice balance betwen red and black fruit, overlaid with tobacco and coffee, while the older vintages have a slightly nutty quality to them. The difference is in the palate, and, while the style is more or less consistent, the quality is not immune to vintage variations.

(I have not yet received the prices from WineRoute. I will update this post once I have them)

2004

A very pretty nose that starts out somewhat modernish and then unfolds and displays more classic nuances and a touch of spices. Alas, while the nose is first-class, the palate doesn't even have a boarding pass. Just about medium bodied, you can feel how the palate just doesn't have the substance or balance to contain the oak and it winds down on an astringent finish that doesn't seem to have a lot to do with the wine's youth (the comparison to the 2005 is riveting) but rather with the style of the vintage.

2005

As I said at the top, Rauzan-Segla showed great aromatic consistency during the tasting and nowhere was this more evident than with the pair that kicked off the tasting. The 2005 was the better wine aromatically, showing great vibrancy and ever growing presence and definition, but it really showed its true breed on the palate. The fruit is more concentrated, longer and with enough ripeness to totally avoid any astringency. A real winner.

2003

Although very forward, the nose is surprisingly elegant for the vintage. However, its typicity is very hazy, so much so that there was a general concensus that it was much more Pauillac in character than Margaux. The palate also surprises by being rather more reminiscent of the 2004 than the 2005, with a slight bitterness on the finish. A better wine than the 2004, it actually has less personality than the 2002.

2002

A terrific, unique nose that manages to tweak all the aromatic components of Rauzan-Segla and spin them off in another direction altogether. I'm tempted to call it funky, but it would be a rather elegant style of funk. The palate is ripe, not especially long, but very balanced and methinks it will be one of those useful wines that will drink relatively early while retaining its vitality for over a decade.

2001

The nose is even funkier than the 2002, broader too, with slightly blacker fruit, and it really hit home with me. A continuous, side-by-side comparison of the 2002 versus the 2001 showed that the 2002 was a more interesting wine, longer, with the tannins supporting the fruit with greater finesse. This was a surprising breach of the book on these two vintages and thus a second bottle was opened, which showed a better structure, with an interesting play of astrigency and ripeness on the finish. The second bottle beat the 2002 on points.

1998

This is a good wine, but there is something bland about it. The nose adds nothing new and the palate is very fruity and accessible. While it gains focus in glass, overall it remains a very indifferent product.

1995

Although the nose is tighter than any preceeding or suceeding wine, it retains the family signature. The palate has terrific balance and power, without ever breaching the elegant facade of the house style. This is the most Old World wine of the tasting and if my note is rather skimpy, it is only because it is in a very monolithic stage right now.

1996

The nose simply roars and the more it opens up, the more I'm amazed by it. it just has this meaty, animalistic feel to it yet somehow it remains silky and elegant. The palate is fuller and bigger than the 1995, yet somehow it is just as balanced and elegant. For my money, this is the wine of the tasting. Excellent.

1989

The 1989 boasts a captivating nose that is even more animalistic than the 1996, with nutty overtones. It starts out very yummy, unfurling incredible freshness for a twenty year old as well as integrated and supprortive tannins - but it loses steam in glass, as opposed to the 1983, which just showed no signs of quitting.

1983

Starting out a sluggish step and a half behind the 1989, the 1983 quickly makes up the distance, never showing any fraying on the palate, while the nose develops a real 'stink' of a bouquet. The most captivating wine of the night, Ran Shapira called it classic Margaux and I'll have to take his word for it. Maybe all mature wines are this much fun, if they survive this far - which this one sure did, and more.

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