Robert M. Parker, Jr. - 31/10/2011
This is powerfully rendered, with a still taut and compact yet racy core of linzer torte, black licorice snap, fig sauce and cassis notes that all drive through the long finish, where hints of juniper, roasted alder wood and smoldering tobacco lurk. Well-embedded acidity holds it all together as well, with impressive range and depth. It seems the Cazes family has stepped it up here. Best from 2013 through 2023. 2,500 cases made, 500 cases imported.
Wine Spectator (Feb 2012)
Up there with the ’07 and a rocking Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine des Sénéchaux’s 2009 (roughly 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and the rest Mourvèdre, Cinsualt and Vaccarèse aged in neutral barrels) offers up perfumed, sweet aromas of kirsch liqueur, framboise, licorice, roasted meats, and loads of garrigue and herbs de Provence-like qualities that flow to a full-bodied, elegant, and seamless red. It opens up beautifully in the glass (showed best on the second day), has a concentrated, rich mid-palate, loads of texture, and a heady, lengthy finish. It is gorgeous now, yet will be even better with 3-5 years of bottle age, and drink well for 12-15 years.
Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com (Sep 2012)
About this WINE
Domaine des Senechaux
Sénéchaux is an excellent example of how a large “alien” concern – in this case the Cazes family of Château Lynch-Bages in Bordeaux – should manage its purchase. Here, they invest as and where necessary, but without altering the historical essence of the domaine, personified here by the longstanding régisseur Bernard Tranchecoste. Indeed, the domaine itself dates back to the 14th century, making it one of the oldest wineries of the region.
The team at Sénéchaux are extremely happy with their 2019 vintage, and were able to harvest perfectly healthy grapes thanks, in part, to the generous soil water levels leftover from the 2018 rains which helped mitigate the summer heat. They are one of the few producers in the region to retain a simple and traditional two-wine offering.
The most celebrated village of the Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the birthplace of the now indispensable French Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée system – imperfect though it may be. Compared to the Northern Rhône, the vineyards here are relatively flat and often feature the iconic galet pebbles – the precise benefits of which are a source of much debate. Minimum alcohol levels required by the AOC are the highest in France, but at 12.5% it is well below the natural generosity of Grenache, which only achieves its full aromatic potential when it is fully ripe and laden with the resultant high sugars. Syrah and Mourvèdre contribute the other defining elements in the blend, adding pepper, savoury spice and structure to the decadent Grenache. There are a further 10 permitted red grape varieties which can be used to adjust the “seasoning”. Of the five white varieties permitted, it is Grenache Noir’s sibling – predictably perhaps – Grenache Blanc, which dominates, though Roussanne shows a great deal of promise when handled well, notably at Château de Beaucastel.
Southern Rhône Blend
The vast majority of wines from the Southern Rhône are blends. There are 5 main black varieties, although others are used and the most famous wine of the region, Châteauneuf du Pape, can be made from as many as 13 different varieties. Grenache is the most important grape in the southern Rhône - it contributes alcohol, warmth and gentle juicy fruit and is an ideal base wine in the blend. Plantings of Syrah in the southern Rhône have risen dramatically in the last decade and it is an increasingly important component in blends. It rarely attains the heights that it does in the North but adds colour, backbone, tannins and soft ripe fruit to the blend.
The much-maligned Carignan has been on the retreat recently but is still included in many blends - the best old vines can add colour, body and spicy fruits. Cinsault is also backtracking but, if yields are restricted, can produce moderately well-coloured wines adding pleasant-light fruit to red and rosé blends. Finally, Mourvèdre, a grape from Bandol on the Mediterranean coast, has recently become an increasingly significant component of Southern Rhône blends - it often struggles to ripen fully but can add acidity, ripe spicy berry fruits and hints of tobacco to blends.