The Cellar Master at Château Phélan Ségur pays the utmost respect to these grapes, born of a terroir of timeless nobility. Elegance is his obsession, high standards and integrity his guiding principles.
Cellar Master Fabrice Bacquey preserves the noble raw material that is the grape. He has to respect the style of the estate while expressing the best of the vintage.
The grapes are picked by hand, with the greatest care and at optimum ripeness when nature permits. They are transported to the manual and vibrating sorting tables in small crates. Since 2011, the final selection has been made by optical sorting. The crushing that follows is gentle.
Fermentation takes place over ten days or so, marked out by regular pumping-over, rack and return or punching down of the cap, specific to each batch, to encourage the phenolic compounds to pass into the wine. Then comes the critical phase of maceration for around twenty days, to continue the extraction process. The wine is tasted every day to determine the optimum date for running it off the skins. The 39 tanks allow for this precision winemaking and form the basis for future selections for the blends. A discreet change initiated in 2010 led to the addition of 8 tanks of 45hl in the vat room, which further improves interpretation of the intra-plot work carried out in the vineyard.
THE MAGIC OF BLENDING
After pressing and separation of the free-run and press wines, they go into barrel to begin the malolactic fermentation in the warm atmosphere of the cellars. The wines become suppler and rounder as they rest through the winter.
The long process of blending begins at the end of winter and involves rigorous tasting of each batch. It is at this stage that the selection is made, with the invaluable help of consultant oenologist Michel Rolland. Some batches will be blended into the first wine of Château Phélan Ségur, others into the second wine Frank Phélan, and still others into La Croix Bonis.
The final blend for the first wine is then presented “to the world” in April at the primeur tastings.
A WINE PHILOSOPHY
Beyond the purely technical knowledge required for winemaking, it is a wine philosophy, a palate forged by years of tasting and a perfect understanding of the ageing of the wines from the Phélan Ségur terroir that make the difference.