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Domaine des Sénéchaux is one of the oldest domaines in Châteauneuf-du-Pape with a history dating back to the 14th century . The identity of the eponymous old men is something of a mystery; they look a little like Rodin's Burghers of Calais but are, in all likelihood, unrelated. The Estate covers 25 hectares in two excellent areas: 12 hectares near Château la Nerthe and 15 hectares in the Montalivet-Bois des Sénéchaux district, near Château Rayas. The good works to rejeuvenate the estate were initiated by entrepreneur Pascal Roux, but the serious qualitative impulse has, since 2006, been provided by Jean Michel Cazes and his son Jean Charles. The Cazes are, of course, even more famous for their ownership of the superlative Pauillac property Lynch Bages The vineyards have been restored to their former glory and the winemaking facilities have been fully modernised. The imperative, advocated by the father and adhered to by the son, has been , very importantly, to make a classic Châteauneuf-Du-Pape and not to try and make a great Bordeaux wine in the heart of the Rhône Valley. The red is a blend of 90% Grenache, 5% Syrah, 3% Mourvèdre and 2% other varietals. Fermentation is in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats and the wines are then matured in French oak barrels for 12- 15 months, some of which are new. The wines are bottled unfiltered. The white wine only makes up 5% of production; the grapes being Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc and Roussanne, the last of which is fermented in barrique with stirring of the yeast. The white is beautifully perfumed and full of Southern charm. Delicacy and finesse are the bywords here with the wines being accessible in youth although they tend to show at their best with 7-10 years of bottle ageing. Each year they get better.
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Three distinctive soils, each with differing clay and sand content, make up the 22 hectares of vines. This 2011 is made up of 62% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 17% Mourvèdre and 1% shared between Vaccarèse and Cinsault. It was aged for a year, undergoing a complex regime which may be summarised as just under half barrel, just over half cask. A nose of leather, provence herbs and plum signals complexity of intent; underlined by the quality of the palate which is ripe and plush, toasty and rich. The wine is a great success. Simon Field MW, BBR Buyer Domaine des Sénéchaux continues to climb the village’s unwritten hierarchical ladder. The Cazes family (Ch. Lynch-Bages), who own the property, are generous both in their financial investment and in their lack of interference. Winemaker Bernard Tranchecoste has done them proud. 2011 was marked for him by the contrast between its early flowering and the slowing down of the hitherto precocious cycle with some tricky weather towards the end of July. Oidium was conquered finally and the harvest was brought in, in good volume, but over an extended period. The harvest was finished by the end of the first week of October.
Case price (12)
Case saving £34.80
Bottle 6 x 75cl
Honours are pretty evenly shared here between Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Roussanne with a small amount of Bourboulenc adding zip and energy. Apart from the barrel-fermented Roussanne, the grapes are vinified by variety in stainless steel. The descriptors run the citric gamut and then spill over pleasingly into a honied compote of nutty complexity. Simon Field MW, Rhône Wine Buyer Domaine de Sénéchaux is made up of nearly 30 hectares, half of which are located on sandy soil soils near to Château Rayas, the other half in three lieux-dits a little further to the south, their soil made up of galets roulés and loam. The Lynch-Bages ownership has been discrete but telling, with a very district upwards trajectory over recent years in terms of quality. Winemaker Bernard Tranchecoste assesses the vintage as ‘less rich but rounder’ than 2011, whatever that may mean.
Case price (12)
Case saving £39.60
A significant contribution from Mourvèdre (its 20% matches the Syrah) adds savoury depth to the wine. Ripeness one always expects here, but over time it has progressed from a simple almost jammy style to something far more profound and more interesting. More Mourvèdre every year please! Simon Field MW, Rhône Wine Buyer Domaine de Sénéchaux is made up of nearly 30 hectares, half of which are located on sandy soil soils near to Château Rayas, the other half in three lieux-dits a little further to the south, their soil made up of galets roulés and loam. The Lynch-Bages ownership has been discrete but telling, with a very district upwards trajectory over recent years in terms of quality. Winemaker Bernard Tranchecoste assesses the vintage as ‘less rich but rounder’ than 2011, whatever that may mean.
Sumptuous, intoxicating aromas of ripe, sweet black fruits combine with warm Asian spices on the nose and a beautifully, plump, juicy creamy palate. This Châteauneuf-du-Pape is decadent, naughty and terrific value: Lynch Bages with a Grenache grenade! (Simon Staples, BBR Fine Wine Sales Director) Jean-Michel and son Jean-Charles Cazes have made another great leap in progress in 2007. The result, paradoxically, is the quintessence of Châteauneuf-du- Pape; herbs, spice, pepper and a great mass of richly concentrated fruit. The wine has beautifully supple tannins and monumental length. (Simon Field MW, Berrys’ Rhône Buyer) Sumptuous, intoxicating aromas of ripe, sweet black fruits combine with warm Asian spices on the nose and a beautifully, plump, juicy creamy palate. This Châteauneuf-du-Pape is decadent, naughty and terrific value: Lynch Bages with a Grenache grenade! (Simon Staples, BBR Fine Wine Sales Director)
Bottle 12 x 75cl
From 25 hectares, set in a tableau of differing parcels, each adding something to the ensemble, Senechaux is a fairly typical blend, made up of 60% Grenache, the balance shared almost equally between Syrah and Mourvedre. The 2005 is more powerful and concentrated than the pretty 2004 wine; its tannins will ensure longevity and the concentration of sweet Grenache fruit will underwrite quality. Great things are happening at this Domaine; the eponymous old men should be very proud. (Simon Field MW, BBR Buyer)
The blend in the 2010 is Grenache (55%), Syrah ( 24%) Mourvedre ( 20%) and whatever percentage is left is made up of Cinsault and Vaccarese. Ripe exuberant strawberry fruit is evidenced as always, but now there is more depth, with notes of sousbois and bitter chocolate form the Mourvèdre lending a pleasing weight to the back palate. Simon Field MW, BBR Buyer, February 2012
The eponymous old men continue to adorn the label, redolent of the Burgers of Calais, patient and civilized. Our patience with Sénéchaux has paid enormous dividends over recent years under the stewardship of the Cazes of Lynch Bages. Winemaker Bernard Tranchecoste bemoans the short harvest, but this can partly be attributed to the vendanges vertes in the vineyard, an additional qualitative statement after coulure severely reduced the Grenache crop earlier in the season.
A felicitous blend of Grenache (50 percent), Syrah (30 percent) and Mourvèdre (20 percent), the 2013 has been matured in foudre, barrique and cask and is suitably complex, without losing the wonderfully fresh and exuberant sweet mid-palate mouth-feel for which the domaine is now justly celebrated. Simon Field MW - Rhône Buyer The story of Sénéchaux has a familiar refrain of low yields (22 hectolitres per hectare), a late harvest, the danger of rot in the vineyard after the coulure, and further patience required in the winery to encourage the malolactic fermentation to take place. Bernard Tranchecoste is not timid about rehearsing the problems, which is why the tasting comes as a very agreeable surprise. Heterogeneous ripening in three very different locations does not seem in any way to have affected the overall equilibrium of what will prove to be a very impressive ensemble. One of the shinning successes in the vintage is Senechaux’s 2013 Châteauneuf du Pape. Checking in as a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 20% Mourvedre that was aged mostly in foudre (55%), but also in barrels (35%) and concrete (10%), it offers gorgeous aromas of sweet spice, ground pepper and garrigue to go with kirsch and blackberry-styled fruit. Possessing medium-bodied richness, loads of fruit, sweet tannin and integrated acidity, it should shine on release, and evolve gracefully through 2023. Jeb Dunnuck - Wine Advocate Issue#215 Oct 2014
The red is made up of 63% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 17% shared between Mourvdre, Cinsualt and Vaccarse. The wine has a silky, finely seamed texture and a powerful pot-pourri of flavours which flatter the palate with their pleasing combination of the familiar and the new.
The on-going improvements here are so impressive that the 2008, despite being a far trickier vintage, is showing every sign of matching the quality of the terrific 2007, albeit with a more feminine twist. Mulberry and sloe seduce quickly, then notes of thyme and pepper serve to confirm provenance and quality. Drink 2012-2017.