Friday, November 28, 2014

Winemaker Dinner with John Kolasa (Château Canon und Château Rauzan Ségla) and Wine Journalist Panos Kakaviatos at Restaurant Le Français in Frankfurt, Germany

Picture: John Kolasa, Sommelier Franck Mouzon and Panos Kakaviatos

At the end of October, 2014, Panos Kakaviatos was on his annual winemaker dinner tour in Germany, this time with John Kolasa and with stops in Munich and Frankfurt. Following Angelus, Pichon-Comtesse, Palmer, Sociando-Mallet and Leoville-Poyferre in previous years, he presented Château Canon und Château Rauzan Ségla, both managed by John Kolasa. I attended with Annette Schiller the Frankfurt dinner at Restaurant Le Français (1 Michelin-Stern, 17 Punkte Gault Millau) at the im Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof Hotel. Annette Schiller from ombiasy PR and WineTours provided the tasting notes for this posting.

Panos Kakaviatos

Panos Kakaviatos is a highly respected Bordeaux expert, who regularly writes for the Decanter, Harpers Wine & Spirits – two excellent UK based wine magazines - and other wine publications.

I first met Panos Kakaviatos in Washington DC at one of the wine events he organized in the USA. Subsequently, we spent an evening together at our house, which is close to where Panos grew up. Born, raised and educated in Washington D.C. to Greek parents, he speaks English, but he is also fluent in German and French. As these are the three languages I also master, we switched back and forth between English, French and German, depending on the subject we are discussing.

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Panos Kakaviatos in McLean, Virginia, see: A Glass of Bordeaux – What Else? – With Wine Journalist Panos Kakaviatos 

Panos recently created a new web site – - where he introduces himself: I have been a published wine writer since about 2001. Since then, I have organized wine tastings for hotel restaurants mainly in Germany but also in the US and even once in Dubai, been invited to judge at professional tastings and basically love to drink wine!

Picture: Panos Kakaviatos

Wine is much more about point scores and evaluations. It is about the people who are associated with it, the regions where it is made, the anecdotes – sometimes amusing, sometimes less so – that you experience.

Above all, it is about conviviality and stories. Or solitude. The cliché is that wine is meant to share with friends. Of course that is probably the best way to enjoy it. But how often do you enjoy a glass (or two) on your own?

Wine Chronicles is about communicating stories about wine – and around wine. Wine Chronicles will share stories from other bloggers and wine lovers, too, to reflect what long has been turning into a worldwide passion. Online groups such as #winelovers flourish. More people are educating themselves, formally or not. And more people are buying and drinking wine. So in addition to my texts and tasting notes, you will find links to other blogs – at least that is the idea.

Where do I fit into this picture? For years, I have held a professional passion about wine, writing articles in internationally recognized media such as Decanter, Harpers Wine & Spirit, Wine Business International, Wines & Vines, France Today, France Magazine and others. My writing ability was developed as a news agency reporter, primarily with the Associated Press. More recently, I have been associated with Europe’s premier human rights organization The Council of Europe, where I work in media relations. My contractual arrangement with the Council of Europe permits me to pursue my wine passion – and I have most recently been organizing wine tasting dinners as an educator and participated as a judge in international wine competitions, from Shanghai to London. As you can see in my CV, I am available as a judge for other wine competitions and can provide clients – from restaurants to individuals – with cellar consulting. As an experienced wine steward, I know how to manage a restaurant cellar. Another service I can provide for you is tour organization, especially for the wine country I know best: France.

Restaurant Francais

Restaurant Francais is part of Steigenberger Hotel Frankfurter Hof. It is an old-style hotel, with high ceiling, lots of marble and gold elements, including in the restaurant. The very charming and welcoming staff makes you feel at ease in this majestic décor. The restaurant could easily be in Paris. Chef Patrick Bittner worked with Dieter Müller before taking over in Frankfurt. He was awarded his first Michelin Star in 2008.

Pictures: Steigenberger Hotel Frankfurter Hof and Restaurant Francais 

Michelin: Patrick Bittner and his experienced team continue to hone their skills, bringing clever modern techniques and interesting textures to their classic cuisine. Suitably elegant dining room complete with fireplace and winter garden. If you like eating outside, the main courtyard makes a perfect terrace.

Winemaker John Kolasa

John Kolasa is the Managing Director of Chateau Rauzan-Ségla in Margaux and at Chateau Canon in Saint-Emilion. Born in Scotland, John Kolasa’s Francophilia (and first career as a French teacher) brought him to Bordeaux in 1971. It was his desire to start a new adventure that he met Englishman William Bolter and American Steven Schneider who owned a wine company. His career in wine began with work on the quays in Bordeaux and a year of weekly oenology studies. After four years with Bolter and Schneider, John Kolasa began looking after properties belonging to the Janoueix family in Saint-Emilion and Pomerol, followed by two years with the Union des Producteurs in Saint-Emilion. In 1987, he was asked to take over the commercial manager position at Chateau Latour in Pauillac.

Remaining at Latour until 1994, John Kolasa’s new challenge began when the Wertheimer family, the owners of Chanel, acquired Chateau Rauzan-Ségla and he was brought on to oversee the operation at the chateau and rebuild the reputation of what was known in the 19th century as the best of the second growths.

Pictures: Annette Schiller, Christian G.E. Schiller and John Kolasa

Following this initial acquisition, in 1996 the Wertheimer family decided to purchase Chateau Canon, a first growth in Saint-Emilion on the right bank of Bordeaux. John Kolasa has overseen the extensive renovation program that was undertaken to reveal the finesse and elegance of its terroir and bring back the great wines of Chateau Canon. In 2011, Canon purchased Chateau Matras, Grand Cru Classé to add to the production of its second wine, Clos Canon.

John Kolasa lives in Margaux with his wife, Delphine, and has four children, Claire, Helene, Elise, and Victor.

Château Canon

Château Canon is located southwest of the Saint-Émilion village, neighbouring Château Magdelaine, Château La Gaffelière and Château Ausone. It is a Premiers Grands Crus Classés B in the Classification of Saint-Émilion.

In the late 1700s, the estate - named Clos St-Martin - was sold to Jacques Kanon, probably the source of the name Canon. A true clos, the original 12 hectare vineyard was encircled by a wall, which Jacques Kanon expanded by acquiring seven small surrounding vineyards. The estate went through several ownerships, until it was sold to the Wertheimer family in 1996.

Today, the vineyard area totals 21.5 hectares, with Merlot accounting for 60% and Cabernet Franc for 40%. On average, the vines are 25 years old. Chateau Canon annually produces on average 7,500 cases of the Grand Vin Chateau Canon and the second wine Clos de Canon.

Pictures: At the Reception

Château Rauzan Ségla

Château Rauzan-Ségla is a Deuxièmes Crus in the Classification of 1855, located in the Margaux appellation. Château Rauzan-Ségla was once part of the vast Rausan estate owned by Pierre de Mesures de Rauzan in the mid-17th century. Over time, this estate was divided, and by the time of the 1855 Classification, had been separated into the estates of Château Rauzan-Gassies, Château Rauzan-Ségla, Château Desmirail, and Château Marquis de Terme.

After a long ownership by the Durand-Dasier family, the estate was acquired by Frédéric Cruse of the Cruse family in 1903 who held ownership until 1957. Liverpool shipping magnate John Holt and Brent Walker followed as owners, before the Wertheimer family bought the estate in 1994.

The vineyard area totals 51 hectares, with Cabernet Sauvignon accounting for 61%, Merlot for 35% and Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot for 2% each.

The Grand Vin is Château Rauzan-Ségla, with an annual production of 8000 cases. The second wine is named Ségla.

Pictures: At the Dinner

Tasting Notes (Annette Schiller)

Annette Schiller took notes during the dinner and provided the tasting notes. Annette is founder and CEO of ombiasy PR and WineTours. Her speciality are wine tours to Bordeaux and Germany. See here, for example: Bordeaux Wine Tour 2013 by ombiasy. For the Bordeaux Wine Tour by ombiasy coming up in 2015, see: ombiasy PR and WineTours.

The winemaker dinner was 189€, including tax and tip.

Pictures: Annette Schiller at the Dinner Taking Notes

Château Rauzan-Ségla, Appellation Margaux, 2ième Grand Cru Classé
Château Canon, Appellation Saint-Emilion, Premier Grand Cru Classé B

This evening was a wonderful comparison between Bordeaux Right Bank vs. Bordeaux Left Bank. All wines were decanted well ahead of time.

First Course: US Beef Onglet, Sunflowerseed, Chinese Cabbage, Rowan Berry

Two Right Bank wines accompanied this course:

Château Canon 2001 and 1998.

Both Saint-Emilion wines, from the same Château, and John Kolasa was already on the ground when those wines were produced. However the wines were completely different due to the very different climate conditions in 2001 and 1998.

2001: This was overall a “cool” year and the wine was carried more by the Cabernet-Franc. On first sight the bouquet jumped out of the glass. It was gorgeous with a seductive nose of fruit, -cassis and cherry- , ripeness, and hints of pepper and spice. It almost smelled like a new world style wine. This wine had a generous texture, and showed harmony between the pronounced tannins, layers of different flavors, and acidity. I was very much taken by the first impression and elegance of this wine. But somehow, after sitting in the glass for a while, the bouquet weakened considerably and the wine fell kind of flat.

1998: This was overall a “warm” year and the wine was carried more by the Merlot. On the first encounter the nose was very restrained, but the voluptuousness of the Merlot counterbalanced the coyness of the wine on the palate. After a while in the glass the nose came forward with hints of dark fruit, some vanilla, and a bit of smokiness. There was a pleasant velvety mouthfeel with a good tannin structure and acidity, which lingered on. This wine was more complex, more astute than the 2001, and had definitely more elegance. It is good to drink now but I believe that the wine can still last a long time.

Both wines were a good match with the beef and how it was prepared.

Second Course: Breton Scallops, Calf’s Head, Cauliflower, Nutmeg

The wine to accompany this course was the

1983 Château Rauzan-Ségla:

This wine was dark, almost brownish in the glass. The nose was glorious, wide open, rich, fruity, - lots of cassis -, earthy, and a bit meaty. It was a powerful wine with a perfect structure and tannin - flavor - acidity - balance, a creamy texture, and endless finish. The wine was bold, but at the same time very stylish and classy. It was hard to believe that this wine was more than 30 years old.

(John said: “when I joined Rauzan-Ségla, there were 7000 bottles of this wine in the cellar. Now there are only 700 left.”)

The pairing with the food course was absolutely stunning. Scallops and calf’s head, this was an extraordinary combination beautifully executed and the two 1983 Rauzan-Ségla could not have been a more perfect match. The hint of meatiness in the wine and the hint of meatiness in the food as well as the creaminess of the wine and the creaminess of the sauce were just the perfect marriage.

Third Course: Saddle of Pauillac Lamb, Bell Pepper, Fennel, Tomato

Two Left Bank wines accompanied this course:

Château Rauzan-Ségla 1995 and 1986:

These wines were much more similar than the two Canon wines of the first flight. Both showed the characteristics of classic Bordeaux of the Left Bank.

1995: This was the first wine John Kolasa made after he joined Château Rauzan-Ségla. 1995 was also a “warm” vintage with an early ripening and an early picking period, favorable for the Cabernet-Sauvignon, which is the dominate grape varietal in the Rauzan-Ségla wines. The wine was dark colored, a red-purple beauty in the glass. On the nose, which was not overbearing, it showed pronounced cassis, smoke, and a hint of pine. This was a full-bodied, fat, complex wine with powerful tannins, and a long aftertaste. The wine had a touch of rambunctiousness paired with a certain elegance, and a still youthful freshness. I liked the tension in the wine and I am sure that one can keep it for a long time.

1986: This wine also had a beautiful dark, red-purple color in the glass. It was a bit tight on the nose, but after a while in the glass the bouquet opened up and gorgeous dark berry fruit notes paired with earthy, and smoky notes appeared. On the palate it was dense, yet there was harmony between tannins, fruit flavors, spices, and acidity, and it had a nice length. I am not sure if one should keep it much longer.

Both wines paired beautifully with the lamb. The character of the wines were an ideal match with the spices, and the flavor of the lamb.

Fourth Course: Cheese Degustation

1985 Château Canon (Magnum bottle)

In the early 80s many vineyards at Canon were redeveloped and the 1985 vintage bears fruit from the new plantings.

The wine was ruby-red in the glass and the nose was gorgeous: aromas of cherry, earth, some herbal notes, leather. The body had medium weight. This is a harmonious wine with the tannins completely integrated. On the palate the wine was mature, creamy, but also with a surprising freshness, and a lingering finish. What a joy to drink this wine now.

The selection of cheeses, Epoisse, Comté, a mild chèvre, was perfect for this wine. I missed a blue cheese, which I love, on the cheese platter, but that would not have paired at all with the wine. The mild cheeses, all had a creaminess in the mouth, were a perfect match for this elegant wine.


Thanks Panos and John for a wonderful evening.

schiller-wine: Related Postings

A 16-Vintage Château Calon Ségur Vertical Tasting in Washington DC, with Wine Writer Panos Kakaviatos and Laurent Dufau, Managing Director, USA/Bordeaux

A Vertical Blind Tasting of Châteaux Léoville-Barton and Langoa-Barton plus the 2011 Chateau Mauvesin-Barton with Lilian Barton-Sartorius in Washington DC, USA

A Glass of Bordeaux – What Else? – With Wine Journalist Panos Kakaviatos  

Celebrating Riesling and my Birthday at Weingut Schaetzel in Nierstein, Rheinhessen, Germany  

Bordeaux Wine Tour 2013 by ombiasy

Lunch at Château Le Bon Pasteur with Winemaker/Owner Dany Rolland, Pomerol, France

The Wine Empire of the von Neipperg Family in France, Bulgaria and Germany 


  1. What a lovely evening you had in Frankfurt with nice wines and delicious foods! Cheers! J+C

  2. Thanks Judit, please join us next time, in Europe or in the US. Cheers. Christian