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23rd April 2020

More Bordeaux 2019 – the wines of Châteaux Clos Cantenac in St Emilion and Séraphine in Pomerol

Château Séraphine is a very unusual thing – a completely new estate in Pomerol.
Martin Krajewski sold Entre Deux Mers estate Château de Sours - noted for its wines, especially probably the best rosé in Bordeaux - to Chinese billionaire Jack Ma in late 2016. He then purchased 2.2 hectares of vines in Pomerol, and a property at the south of the appellation (Monbrun) which needed complete restoration. He rechristened them Château Séraphine, after his Polish grandmother Seraphina. His daughter Charlotte is the winemaker. There is global winemaking experience in the Krajewski blood. Martin worked with John Duval in Australia, and Charlotte has made wine at the Hawke’s Bay wineries Elephant Hill and Trinity Hill in New Zealand.

Martin is an avuncular Englishman, who has been a friend of ex-pat visitors to Bordeaux for many years. In common with many extremely successful businessmen, he exudes charm, but with him it is genuine and friendly and buoyed by an obvious and infectious passion for wine above all else. (The money was not made in wine, which may account in part for this!) Charlotte was, and is, part of the winemaking team at Martin’s other property – the 6h Château Clos Cantenac in St Emilion. But the production at Séraphine is so small that Charlotte does everything herself, and you get the feeling that this is precisely the way she wants it.

These are boutique wines par excellence. Quality is obviously the only objective.
I tasted the 2018 wines last year at the beautifully restored Séraphine property, and I was impressed there and then. 2018 is a great vintage, but I feel that even the very best Merlot-based vineyards will perform even better in vintages with slightly fewer extremes of weather, and so when Martin sent me samples of the 2019 wines, I was genuinely excited to see what they would offer.
Without much surprise, but a lot of pleasure, I discovered them to be an improvement on the very good 2018 examples, despite having very slightly higher alcohol levels – the ripening was obviously more even. Production is of course tiny and allocations will be hard to come by, but these are certainly names to remember.

Le Petit Cantenac St Emilion Grand Cru 2019
85 M 10 CF 5 CS 14%abv
Dense and packed black and blue berry fruit aromas, with some char and sweet tobacco, roasted coffee and earth, Inviting and concentrated. Deep concentration with ripe tannins, but freshness of acidity, some oatmeal oak, but massively dominated by the lush fruit. Concentrated and deep, with some silkiness of texture and a sheen of creaminess. This is a major achievement for a so-called second wine, and a real notch higher from the already very good 2018.

Clos Cantenac St Emilion Grand Cru 2019
100 M 14%abv
Deep and closed with brooding clove-edged rich black fruit aromas and spices seeping from behind the corners. Mysterious and inviting. Some mint, sweet herbs, thyme and cocoa pushing through. Crazily rich and deeply extracted with a lovely sinewy, creaminess of texture and real depth of flavours. Big tannic extraction and will need some considerable time in bottle once finished, but has all the ingredients for greatness. Very compelling wine. 92-93

Château Séraphine Pomerol 2019
100 M 14%abv
Deep smoky and almost savoury aromas with dark chocolate, fired earth, roasted coffee and dense black fruit. Complex and inviting. Rich and super-extracted with some warmth and depth, but enough freshness to balance and a multi-layered complexity to the flavours. Creamy, sumptuous palate coating texture. This has slightly more alcohol than the 2018 (something that will I suspect prove to be the exception in general) but it is all in perfect harmony with the depth of fruit. Very long palate coating finish, and a very good wine indeed. 93-94


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