Interview with Nicolas Audebert – Chief Winemaker at Chateau Rauzan Segla, Chateau Canon and Chateau Berliquet

  • The Rauzan Segla 2018 has been met with rave reviews. At what point did you feel you had made a special wine?

It is a long process in a technician’s mind as the picture of the vintage is getting clearer and clearer from the picking to the “dégustations d’assemblage” (blending tastings).  Each vintage gives me a particular emotion, the most complicated are the biggest vintages: 2010, 2015, 2016. They have a very special place, but the first tastings of 2018 made me think the privileged place would be soon occupied by this new vintage, which offered exceptional promises. The quality of Rauzan-Ségla 2018 has exceeded my expectations over time, it is an extraordinary vintage for Rauzan-Ségla. It has the taste of victory because we worked hard to get it.

  • What were the defining factors in 2018 that you felt played the biggest role in its creation? In the vineyard? In the winery?

There are many details involved at different stages in both vineyard and winery. One of the most important roles is, without dispute, the hard work we have done in the vineyard all through the long growing season.   Key steps in 2018 were: – significant rainfalls during the winter thanks to which the water tables were full to give the vine sufficient reserves to draw on in the summer. – a spring punctuated by violent storms that complicated the work in the vineyard – temperatures a little higher than normal but not excessive which enabled a slow, progressive and perfect maturing.  It required constant watchfulness.

  • How do you feel it compares with other vintages?

It is always difficult to answer as seasons and years are never the same. Nevertheless, the vegetative cycle is close to 2016 with less hot soils loaded with water and cool nights in August. The maturities were refined with more gentleness, and we did not suffer from scalding sun on the Merlot. It could be a cross between 2015 & 2016: 2015 for the generosity of the fruit and 2016 for its density.

  • After working at the properties for 5 years what has been the biggest learning curves working at the different properties? 

I’m still learning …. that is the magic of our work. It never stops, I learn from the terroir and from the team. 

  • Who has been your biggest influence when it comes to winemaking?

My influences in life in general are Antoine de St Exupéry and Bob Marley.

  • Do you approach Rauzan Segla, Canon and Berliquet all in the same way or do the different personalities of the wineries dictate your actions?

In addition to a common desire to drive our vineyards in a reasonable and committed way, my primary desire is to express the terroir in its specificity. We want to combine the terroir and its specificity and the meeting of the two is different from one estate to another.

  • How has it been to take on Chateau Berliquet as an additional property, what have been the biggest challenges?  With the Estate being enclosed within the vineyards of Chateau Canon there must be similarities or is Berliquet distinctly a separate entity?

Enclosed in the vineyard of Château Canon, the 10 hectares planted with Merlot and Cabernet Franc overlook the western hillside of Saint-Emilion and gently bend towards the Dordogne. The footprint of the limestone plateau of St Emilion is very present here and its potential to produce wines that are racy, precise and elegant is undeniable. With Berliquet, over the months, the conclusion was reached that its extraordinary terroir, slightly different from Canon with its more pronounced clay imprint, was a solid basis for building a singular wine. 

  • Where do you see the biggest improvements coming from over the next few years with the properties you managed? What are the plans to further improve the estates?

The biggest improvements will come from an even better precise work in the vineyard and in the cellars. I just want my teams to sublimate their daily job to approach perfection step by step, with humility. 

  • What are your thoughts on the perception of Bordeaux in today’s fine wine world?

Bordeaux is always Bordeaux, wines that make you dream. It is a concentration of extraordinary terroirs and wines sealed in history. It’s up to us to maintain our leading position, to seduce our consumers all over the world again and again.