Prince des Vignes: Nicolas-Alexandre, marquis de Ségur

Incredibly, more than five of the most famous Bordeaux chateaus or crus are owned by Nicolas-Alexandre, marquis de Ségur. At one point in history, though ephemeral, he was the owner of the famous Mouton, Chateau Calon-Segur, Pontet-Canet, Chateau Lafite, d’Armailhac, Chateau Latour, and Montrose.

This was no ordinary achievement but one that would continue to resonate in wine history for a very long time, and it earned marquis de Ségur the title “Prince of wine” — by King Louis XV.

Nicolas-Alexandre, marquis de Ségur was born in 1695 to Alexandre de le Meon de Ségur de Francs et Portugaises and Marie-Thérèse de Clausel in France. A trip down history reveals that he was the paternal grandson of military commander Jean-Isaac, marquis de Ségur, and first cousin to Henri François, Comte de Ségur. Nicolas-Alexandre inherited the Château Latour from his maternal grandfather.[1]

Nicolas-Alexandre

Nicolas-Alexandre

A century after his death in 1755, the 1855 Bordeaux wine classification recognized Chateau Lafite and Latour as first growths while Mouton was designated second growth. Calon-Ségur was assigned third growth.

Nicolas-Alexandre Ségur Vineyard ownership

Contrary to popular misconceptions about how Nicolas-Alexandre Ségur became the owner of so many prominent Bordeaux chateaus, he acquired a good number of them from his family via inheritance. Nicolas-Alexandre was born at a time when Europe was experiencing unrest. At the time of his birth, England and France were already in a nine-year-old war, and a war to be triggered by Spanish succession was only four years away in 1701.

The hostility between both countries soon fizzled, and in 1712 a royal shop arrived Bordeaux with a royal order to be loaded with wine for the royal family. At the time, Marie-Thérèse, Nicolas-Alexandre’s mother owned Château Latour (which she received as her dowry). Her husband had also bought Château Lafite before he died in 1716. Nicolas-Alexandre, who was already a teenager at this time, now presided over two prominent estates in the médoc.

Fast forward to 1718, Nicolas-Alexandre tied the knot with the daughter of one of Bordeaux’s influential and affluent families, Jean de Gasq. Coming from a notable family in the region, she brought a handful of vineyards with her — The Calon chateau (Calon-Ségur, which later made second growth in the 1855 classification of Bordeaux), Montrose, and parts of St.-Estèphe estates which made second growth.[2]

Nicolas-Alexandre, marquis de Ségur once owned Chateau Mouton

Around the same time, Nicolas-Alexandre bought Chateau Mouton. After owning it for some time, he decided to sell it — today, Mouton is fragmented into Mouton-Rothschild, d’Armailhac, and Pontet-Canet. If you have been keeping tabs, this means Nicolas-Alexandre held three first growths, one second growth, and two fifth growths — all belonging to one man, “the prince of wine.”

By 1729, the price of first-growths Bordeaux was already hitting 10 times the price of their “regular” Bordeaux counterpart. While Latour was regarded as the gold mine among Nicolas-Alexandre’s vast estates, it wasn’t exploited to its fullest potential as a vineyard — and Nicolas-Alexandre attests to this by mentioning how he neglected the administration of some of his estates, including Latour, in his will.

Next to Latour is Lafite — even though its wines are not as applauded as their Loutor counterpart, the vineyard occupies a significantly larger land area and yields a greater output. However, after the upgrade of the estate and expansion of the property, the wines have wormed their way into the heart of the elites, including British and French royalty.

Bordeaux Wine Classification Of 1855

On this day in history

August 26, 1676 — Sir Robert Walpole (1st Earl of Orford) was born on this day. He is renowned as the de facto prime minister of Great Britain. He was a whig politician and statesman. His name was familiar at Chateau Lafite as one of its most valuable customers. He used to purchase a barrel of Chateau Lafite wines every three months.

June 1, 1689 — Popularly known as le beau Ségur which translates into “the handsome Ségur,” Henri François, Comte de Ségur, the son of Duke and military commander Henri Joseph and Claude Élisabeth Binet, was born on this day. He served as governor of the County of Foix between 1737 and 1751; Nicolas-Alexandre, the prince of wine, was his first cousin. Henri passed away in Metz at the age of 62 on June 18, 1751 and was named Marsha of France in 1783.

 

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Nicolas-Alexandre, Prince des Vignes: Nicolas-Alexandre, marquis de SégurNicolas-Alexandre, Prince des Vignes: Nicolas-Alexandre, marquis de Ségur
 

Reference

  1. http://www.chateau-latour.com/history/marquis.htm.
  2. “Only Three Chateaux Dropped In New St Emilion Classification – Decanter”. 2022. Decanter. https://www.decanter.com/wine-news/only-one-chateau-demoted-in-new-st-emilion-classification-25451/.

 

 

 

 

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