Once part of a much larger estate in the 1600s that was split into four different châteaux, by the mid 19th century Rauzan-Ségla wine commanded high enough prices to be named a Second Growth in the 1855 Classification.
Émile Peynaud consulted and made some changes in the 1980s, but the most evident transformations occurred after this vintage in the late '90s as manager John Kolasa restructured the vineyards, did away with machine harvesting, changed the approach to the cellar, and instituted a second label, Ségla, which drove smaller quantities of the highest quality fruit to Rauzan-Ségla.
The 1994 Rauzan-Ségla is a transition wine. It marks the end of an era, and the beginnings of a new chapter. This is the last time you'll taste most of the Rauzan-Ségla fruit in the wine-- in the following '95 vintage and onward Kolasa gave more serious attention to Ségla, the second label, and the fruit is split more judiciously into a first and second label. This is one of the last vintages where you'll taste this high of a percentage of cabernet sauvignon; Kolasa has since increased the percentage of merlot and added small amount of petit verdot. This is one of the last vintages where you'll taste the co-fermentation of different parcels; Kolasa began fermenting parcel-by-parcel to tease out the micro-differences in the vineyard).
And though this vintage marks the closing of one era, it was also the baseline vintage that inspired the Wertheimers to initiate certain changes. They purchased this estate in April, right around flowering, and so this vintage was theirs. This was probably the first year they tasted this fruit off the vine, got to try the fermenting must, and marveled at the transformation of these grapes from juice to wine. Though subsequent vintages are markedly different, the genesis for all the changes you'll taste in the late '90s and 2000s can be traced to this 1994. This wine was the starting point which helped lay the roadmap for the last two decades.
Rauzan-Ségla 1994 (Margaux, Bordeaux, France)
Complex aromas with characteristics of a dark fruit center, dense meaty overtones, green mosses, dried underbrush, raw steak, baked green peppers, dried mushrooms. On the palate the wine is powerful and full-bodied with soft & developed dry tannins. A bright acidity that is offset by the wine's richness creates an interesting balance and begs for food. It is rare that such powerful wines are so balanced. drinking great right now.