I admit it, I have a serious bias for the wines from Bordeaux. To be honest, each week my first thought is to send an email out on a wine from this area because there are so many tremendous whites and reds made here and it is the region where I first learned about fine wine. There are numerous properties from this region that I have followed for 25 years now. When I am introduced to a “new” property from Bordeaux, I am always skeptical. Bordeaux to me has always been about tradition and estates with proven track records. Ironically I had a chance to taste today’s featured wine during a meeting about better wines from California. I was stunned! How had this property from Saint Emilion flown under my radar for so long?
Château Lassègue is not your typical estate in Bordeaux. For starters, it is partially owned by the Jackson family from America. The Jackson family produces a wine you have probably heard of, a little buttery chardonnay they call, Kendall-Jackson. Lassègue was purchased by Jess Jackson and winemaker Pierre Seillan back in 2003. Seillan, who has been making wine for five decades, is really the story of this estate. Seillan grew up on his family's property in Gascony, France, where he learned about farming and winemaking. Later he moved to the Loire Valley then he moved to Bordeaux, where he spent two decades making wine. During a trip to California, in 1997, Seillan met Jess Jackson, who passed away in 2011. A friendship developed between Jess and Pierre and Jess made an offer to Pierre to have him join his growing company as a winemaker.
Pierre Seillan and his micro-cru philosophy pushed quality through the roof with Jackson Estates. He moved to California and developed Vertite, a high-end, tiny production estate from Sonoma that has received numerous 100-point scores and Anakota; a very allocated Cabernet Sauvignon. Since 2002, he also has made the wine at Arcanum in Tuscany which receives equally great accolades. Despite making top wine internationally, he wanted to be back home to France to create his own wine and family legacy there. He found Château Lassègue, it was just a short distance from the center of St. Emilion and vineyards like Ausone and Pavie. The 17th century Chateau had fallen into disrepair, but the land was exceptional. Together, the Jackson and Seillan families purchased the estate.
Saint Emilion is on the "Right Bank" of Bordeaux, known for its Merlot dominant reds. Merlot and Cabernet Franc excel in the clay and limestone soils here. Lassègue is planted to 55% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Here the fresh aromas of Cabernet Franc are balanced by the power of the old vine Merlot. Today winemaking is a family affair for the Seillon's. His son Nicolas is making the wine now at Lassègue and his daughter Helene is now assistant winemaker at Verite.
Château Lassègue 2018 is packed in solid six-bottle wood cases, which is the perfect way to purchase and store. The wine is excellent right now, although it is firm so I would decant a few hours before enjoying and pair with firm cheese or maybe a New York Strip steak. A few more years in the bottle will certainly open up this wine and allow it to show much more nuanced aromas and flavors. We could only purchase ten six bottle cases, and this may sell out quickly.
This is a young wine that is knitted down in flavor but it is not tight or difficult to navigate. You feel the breadth and complexity to the fruit, along with juicy powerful freshness, and the gourmet packing of licorice and chocolate. These are big wines that are big but expertly balanced by slate and crushed stone minerality, giving balance and succulence.
94 Points - Jeb Dunnuck "The 2018 Château Lassegue emerges from the home estate of Pierre Seillan, who’s also behind the incredibly quality of Verite in Sonoma County. It’s a beautifully seductive, seamless 2018 with a wonderful core of red and blue fruits, notes of leafy herbs and tobacco, nicely integrated tannins, a great mid-palate, and a rounded, mouth-filling texture. Beautifully done, enjoy this irresistible Saint-Emilion over the coming two decades." - Jeb Dunnuck
94 Points - JamesSuckling.com "Subtle aromas of sweet berries, Spanish cedar and blackberries with some black mushrooms. Medium-to full-bodied with fine yet chewy tannins and a long finish. Solid and racy. Tight now. Drink after 2024." - James Suckling
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