One of the big surprises of the trip were the wines at Chateau Phelan Segur.
Phelan Segur is not a classified growth, because it was not part of the 1855 classification that ranked and ordered the better wine estates of the time. Apparently, a lot has changed over the last 158 years. Phelan Segur easily makes wine that will compete head to head with the better classified growths of Bordeaux. The Chateau manager and winemaker at Phelan Segur is Fabrice Bacquey whose first complete vintage at Phelan Segur was in 1996.
We started the tasting off with Frabrice with a small vertical of Chateau Phelan Segur 2008, 2009 and 2010:
- 2008 Chateau Phelan Segur – An absolutely beautiful nose of sweet dark fruit with a little spice. The most approachable and open of the three vintages, with sweet red/black fruit, good acid, ripe tannins and a medium-long finish.
- 2009 Chateau Phelan Segur – A little tighter than the 2008, but the fruit is darker and bigger. There is a lot more glycerin and smooth mouth feel to this wine. Lots of ripe blackberry fruit, good acid and lots of fine ripe tannins that kick in on the long finish.
- 2010 Chateau Phelan Segur – Darkest wine of the three. A little tight, but with air the very pure dark blackberry/red current fruit comes through. This wine has really good acid that makes it very lively in the mouth. The complex dark fruit mixed with spices, combined with a lot of sweet ripe tannins, gives this wine a wonderfully long finish. This wine age gracefully and will last a very long time. You could enjoy a bottle in 10 years as a young wine or lay it down for 20+ years without even trying.
After enjoying this tasting, we moved into the salon with Fabrice, where we had a beautiful Billecart Salmon Brut champagne “palate cleanser,” and a seared foie gras appetizer (my wife was delighted by this!).
We then had three wines paired with the lunch that we had made earlier in the morning with Chef Jimmy and Eduoard.
- 2008 Frank Phelan paired with Risotto d’epaurtre du pays de Sault, aux chataignes et epes
- 2006 Phelan Segur paired with Tourte de tradition au canard et foie gras
- 2004 Phelan Segur paired with the Quenelle de Chocolat Tuile a l’orange (We were chagrined to realize that we dove right in and forgot to take pictures of this beautiful chocolate ganache!)
My tasting notes:
- 2008 Frank Phelan – Red/black fruit, round in the mouth, very approachable with a good medium finish. This is a nice second wine of Chateau Phelan Segur, but the Grand Vin Phelan Segur is more complex.
- 2006 Chateau Phelan Segur – Dark red/black fruit, a little forest floor, medium acid, good mouth feel, with the sweet fruit coming through on the medium finish. Still young, with better things to come in 5 years or so.
- 2004 Chateau Phelan Segur – Sweet dark fruit mixed with dark chocolate, subtle spices and damp earth, with good acidity and sweet tannins on the medium-long finish.
Fabrice was a very gracious host, and we were having a great time comparing the wines back and forth and marveling at how well the food paired with the wines, when suddenly, he disappeared for a few seconds. Before long, Eduoard appeared with a bottle of the 1996 Chateau Phelan Segur – the first vintage produced by Fabrice at the Chateau. We were quite honored that he chose to share it with us, and the memory of that beautiful wine haunts us still. (I have to figure out how to get my hands on some.) Here are my notes:
- 1996 Chateau Phelan Segur – Slight bricking at the rim, but still a very dark color. An absolutely beautiful nose of dark fruit and spice cake. Very smooth in the mouth, with a taste of dark blackberry pie, spices, forest floor, some mushroom, nice minerality, very good acidity and a lot of fine sweet tannins on the long fruit filled finish. This is an absolutely beautiful wine, with still a long life ahead of it, but it can be enjoyed right now.
Chateau Phelan Segur, under the direction of Fabrice, is making wine that will directly compete with the bigger classified growths of Bordeaux. Amazingly, Chateau Phelan Segur is still one of the great values for the quality in all of Bordeaux and well worth a visit.
Our sincere thanks to the team at Phelan Segur for a wonderful and meticulously planned experience. We felt thoroughly spoiled as we left with our goodie bags of canneles. This experience started our trip off so well, we began to wonder how it could possibly get any better – and we were only halfway through our day!
Next up, Cos d’Estournel and Pontet-Canet…