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Château Sénéjac, Haut-Médoc 2012

Red Wine from France - Bordeaux
This traditionally styled black-fruited claret, made mostly from cabernet sauvignon, benefits from excellent vineyards near Margaux and the expertise of the late Lorraine Cordier, whose family also owns Château Talbot in Saint-Julien. Decant this impressive and attractive Bordeaux to enjoy it to the full.
is no longer available
Code: CM18701

Wine characteristics

  • Red Wine
  • Medium-bodied
  • Cabernet Merlot
  • 13% Alcohol
  • Oak used but not v. noticeable
  • Now to 2025
  • Cork, natural

Medoc, Graves

Médoc, Graves and Pessac-Léognan areas, located on the left bank of the Garonne, are synonymous with well-structured, full-bodied but elegant red wines dominated by cabernet sauvignon which grows well in the predominantly gravelly soil of the area. As cabernet grapes are high in tannins, the wines usually have excellent ageing potential and are usually blended, principally with merlot as well as petit verdot, cabernet franc and malbec in much smaller quantities. When young, the wines can have a mulberry-purple colour, aromas of blackcurrant, cedar and cigar box, and a dry, tannic finish.

The Médoc

The Médoc is the 40 kilometre long tongue of land north of the city of Bordeaux jutting out to sea to form the southern shore of the estuary. It comprises two parts divided along a line just north of the St-Estèphe commune. To the north of this line lies the area called Bas Médoc (though more commonly simply Médoc), while south of the line is the Haut-Médoc. All the wines, north and south,...
Médoc, Graves and Pessac-Léognan areas, located on the left bank of the Garonne, are synonymous with well-structured, full-bodied but elegant red wines dominated by cabernet sauvignon which grows well in the predominantly gravelly soil of the area. As cabernet grapes are high in tannins, the wines usually have excellent ageing potential and are usually blended, principally with merlot as well as petit verdot, cabernet franc and malbec in much smaller quantities. When young, the wines can have a mulberry-purple colour, aromas of blackcurrant, cedar and cigar box, and a dry, tannic finish.

The Médoc

The Médoc is the 40 kilometre long tongue of land north of the city of Bordeaux jutting out to sea to form the southern shore of the estuary. It comprises two parts divided along a line just north of the St-Estèphe commune. To the north of this line lies the area called Bas Médoc (though more commonly simply Médoc), while south of the line is the Haut-Médoc. All the wines, north and south, are made within a band no more than 10 kilometres wide at its broadest.

The Bas Médoc, centred on the town of Lesparre, is made up of more clay and sand than its southern neighbour, interspersed with outcrops of the gravel for which the Haut-Médoc is famous. The climate in the peninsula, moderated by the estuary and sheltered by the great Landes forest to the west, is the mildest of any in Bordeaux though also the wettest after Graves.

In the north many estimable red wines are made and there are numerous properties classed as cru bourgeois, a malleable classification which places properties just below the Grand Cru level, using the classic blend of merlot and cabernet, but it is to the south in the Haut-Médoc that the most prestigious wines are made.

The communes of St-Estèphe, Pauillac, St-Julien, Margaux, Listrac and Moulis are contained within the Haut-Médoc, and wines that are not fortunate enough to find themselves within one of these communes may label themselves Haut-Médoc AC. However, any student of Bordeaux knows that some of the most famous wines in the world are produced in the communes named above. All but one of the five Premier Grand Cru Classé wines of the almost mythical 1855 classification are located here, with three alone sitting in Pauillac.

The soils of the Haut-Médoc are often characterised as gravelly, and indeed there is a significant amount of gravel throughout, in outcrops known as croupes, and much of the success of the great classified estate is attributed to this terroir even though the story of the soil types hereabouts is rather more complex. Gravel is free draining as well as warm in the summer and it is this, in an alliance with the influence of the estuary, that allows cabernet sauvignon to ripen sufficiently. The closer the estate to the estuary the sooner the grapes can ripen, sometimes as much as five or six days earlier than those eight to nine kilometres inland. Though the soils drain freely this causes the vine roots to delve deeply in search of water. This is an asset in regulating the supply of water to the vines which is now regarded as the key to producing high quality fruit.

The land of the Médoc and Haut-Médoc is less fragmented than that of its main rival for the affections of lovers of the finest wines, Burgundy, and estates boundaries can be somewhat more fluid as the reputation of the property is not so bound up in the precise area of terroir it occupies. For example, if Château Margaux were to acquire some vines from a neighbouring property within the commune it could quite legally add those vines to those that supply grapes for their grand vin without it affecting its classification status. As such estates here can occupy quite large tracts of land in comparison with most Burgundy producers.

Graves & Pessac-Léognan

The Graves region lies around the west and south of the city of Bordeaux, and as the name suggests, is famous for the gravelly nature of the soils. Actually there is sandy soil here too but the same free draining, warming characteristics apply as further north. Since 1987 the area has been split , with the creation of the Pessac-Léognan appellation removing the estates north of the town of La Brède and up to Bordeaux itself. This split left Graves without nearly all of its most prestigious properties, including its only Premier Grand Cru Classé in Château Haut-Brion, and a somewhat reduced reputation in the eyes of the public. Much excellent red and white wine is made here on estates that often lie in clearings among the almost ubiquitous pine forests of the area.

Pessac-Léognan is blessed with deeper, more gravelly terroir than its erstwhile compatriot appellation to the south, and has a cru classé system introduced in 1955 that, while younger and less regarded by some than the 1855 version, is at least reviewed occasionally and allows for the recognition of new quality and the demotion of the lacklustre. The classification recognises both red and white wines.

Classified Red Wines of Graves - Château Bouscaut, Château Haut-Bailly, Château Carbonnieux, Domaine de Chevalier, Château de Fieuzal, Château Olivier, Château Malartic-Lagravière, Château La Tour-Martillac, Château Smith-Haute-Lafitte, Château Haut-Brion, Château La Mission-Haut-Brion, Château Pape-Clément, Château Latour-Haut-Brion.

Classified White Wines of Graves - Château Bouscaut, Château Carbonnieux, Domaine de Chevalier, Château Olivier, Château Malartic-Lagravière, Château La Tour-Martillac, Château Laville-Haut Brion, Château Couhins-Lurton, Château Couhins, Château Haut-Brion.

As mentioned above, the brightest star in the Pessac constellation is Haut-Brion, with a reputation as one of the first Bordeaux châteaux to successfully emerge as what might these days be called a Brand, and is mentioned with pleasure by Samuel Pepys in his diary in 1660. The encroachment of the city has surrounded Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion and Pape-Clément and a good deal of prime vineyard area has been devoured by this relentless urban creep. Though mostly red wine is made there, the white wines of Pessac-Léognan have a very fine reputation, as intimated by the classification above, and are made from a blend of sauvignon and semillon with occasional additions of muscadelle, usually aged in oak and with great potential for ageing.
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Château Sénéjac

Château Sénéjac sits at the southerly end of the Médoc, in the commune of Le Pian Médoc, surrounded by woodland, pasture and even a golf course. It is a large estate of 150 hectares, 39 of which are planted to vines, with 48% cabernet sauvignon, 37% merlot, 11% cabernet franc, and 4% petit verdot.

The property’s history can be traced back over 400 years but it was bought by Lorraine Cordier, owner of Château Talbot in Saint-Julien, in 1999. Quality increased steadily and as a result it has become very much a property to watch in our view. Sadly Lorraine’s died in 2011 and since then Sénéjac has been managed by her sister Nancy Bignon Cordier with operations overseen by Alfred Tesseron and his team from the revitalized Château Pontet Canet.

Bordeaux Vintage 2012

2012 was another complicated vintage in which the producers who were fastidious and sensitive in the vineyard and the winery were the most successful. They produced wines with great charm, freshness and poise that are very often approachable early. The best examples, however, will age well for the medium term.

The growing season was a difficult one. It started late; spring was wet, as was the early summer, which disrupted flowering. The remainder of the summer was very dry but unsettled weather returned for the harvest period. Considerable variability was the result, with some uneven ripening. Those prepared to put in a lot of work in the vineyard and who were willing to sacrifice some of the crop in an already small vintage made the best wines. Care was also needed in the cellars to avoid over-extraction of any unripe tannins.

Merlot on the right bank performed well and there are some excellent Pomerols and Saint-Emilions, but many very fine cabernets were produced at top estates in...
2012 was another complicated vintage in which the producers who were fastidious and sensitive in the vineyard and the winery were the most successful. They produced wines with great charm, freshness and poise that are very often approachable early. The best examples, however, will age well for the medium term.

The growing season was a difficult one. It started late; spring was wet, as was the early summer, which disrupted flowering. The remainder of the summer was very dry but unsettled weather returned for the harvest period. Considerable variability was the result, with some uneven ripening. Those prepared to put in a lot of work in the vineyard and who were willing to sacrifice some of the crop in an already small vintage made the best wines. Care was also needed in the cellars to avoid over-extraction of any unripe tannins.

Merlot on the right bank performed well and there are some excellent Pomerols and Saint-Emilions, but many very fine cabernets were produced at top estates in the Médoc, with Châteaux Margaux, Mouton Rothschild, Haut-Brion, Palmer and Pichon Baron all vying for the cabernet crown, and Vieux Château Certan a particular highlight of the merlot-dominant wines.

There are many well-judged, good-value reds at the lower end of the price spectrum which will make enjoyable early drinking.

2012 was another fine vintage for the dry whites picked before the change in the weather. In terms of sweet wines those châteaux situated in the commune of Barsac breathed a collective sigh of relief at the end of the 2012 harvest, and have made some enchanting wines, with sweetness levels akin to 2008 (lower than in 2009 and 2011), and very pure botrytis character. 2012 was a tale of two communes, with many Sauternes properties deciding not to release a grand vin at all. Barsac’s limestone plateau was better able to withstand both the summer drought and the periods of intermittent rain during the harvest.
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2012 vintage reviews

The Daily Telegraph

Sénéjac has long been a byword for reliable,good-value claret in the calm, classic style. The winemaking is overseen by thePontet Canet team. Still a bit young, so decant or stick it away.

- Victoria Moore

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