Aged Bordeaux in Its Sweet Spot
I really love where the '96 left-bank Bordeaux are. It's a classic vintage in a really beautiful place.
When I saw this parcel of 1996, I bought it immediately.
Calon-Ségur has long been a go-to for value in aged Bordeaux. Their 1996 is one of my favorites from this Chateau.
In his thorough profile of Calon-Ségur, John Gilman notes: "The estate bears the distinction of being the very first to be planted to vines in Ste. Estèphe in the middle ages." The Chateau has produced no shortage of epic, long-lived bottles over the centuries. Gilman describes tasting a 1928 that was in strikingly good form.
Over the years, Calon-Ségur has altered its style enough that it's no longer so seriously structured that it requires decades-upon-decades of cellaring before emerging out of its shell.
What I love about the '96 is how classically proportioned it is and how vibrant it is. I remember tasting the '96s early in my career. They already had some bottle age, but still came off a little stern and unyielding (as classic Bordeaux should). I've been amazed at how the wines have blossomed in the bottle since - they've developed a beautiful complexity.
The '96 Calon-Ségur captures so much of what I like about the left bank in this vintage. There's a great harmony between an appealing layer of fruit and a core of serious structure. The complexity this bottle possesses is starting to shine, offering up a great medley of Saint-Estèphe character - cigar box, cedar, earthy minerality along with cassis fruit and subtle spice notes.
While the '96 is entering its drinking stage, there's even more to come with another handful of years in the cellar. The vintage is so classic and so well-balanced there's no doubt it will continue to gain complexity and depth.
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Director, Fine & Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits
John Gilman, View from the Cellar: Along with the 2001, the 1996 vintage at Calon-Ségur is one of my favorite from the merlot-centric era at the estate, probably because the vintage favored cabernet sauvignon so clearly in the Médoc and a bit more of this grape was included in the blend at Calon in this vintage. The bouquet is deep, vibrant and youthfully precise, wafting from the glass in a mix of cassis, dark berries, cigar ash, dark soil tones, a touch of curry and a gentle framing of cedary wood. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and impressively tangy, with a fine core offruit, currently a quite tightly-knit personality, well-integrated tannins and very, very good length and grip on the focused and still quite youthful finish. This is going to be a lovely wine in another eight to ten years’ time and should prove to be quite long-lived. I love to imagine what the current team at Calon would have done with a vintage such as 1996 today!"