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Bankers, Right Bankers

On average, the region of Bordeaux produces 650 million bottles of wine per year, and what a lot of people aren’t aware of is that most of it is sold through a network (La Place) of middlemen (negociants). A more in-depth article on the subject will be communicated shortly, as we believe the category of Bordeaux and how it is sold and sourced requires more transparency and attention. Outside of the unavoidable sourcing of various cru classé Bordeaux via various trusted negociants, we try to unearth special estates who offer the opportunity of selling their wine direct to merchants. Cue our offer today on Clos Cantenac of Saint-Émilion and Château Séraphine of Pomerol. 

Dear Reader,

Hertfordshire-born Martin Krajewski had his passion for wine come to full fruition when in 2007, he purchased Clos Cantenac (with his New Zealand friend Marcus Le Grice) in Saint-Émilion and later Château Séraphine in Pomerol, following the sale of Château de Sours in 2015. He and his family oversee both estates. Martin’s daughter, Charlotte, is a winemaker at both properties. The 2016 vintage of Clos Cantenac marks the second we have brought in directly from Martin, with the 2018 Séraphine our first vintage from the Pomerol property

Clos Cantenac

Previously just an old shed and a forgotten name in Saint-Émilion, Clos Cantenac has been brought back to life by the Krajewski family. Their attention immediately turned to the soil and significant investment went into the vineyards and in renovating the 200-year-old winery.

Clos Cantenac’s Grand Vin is 100% Merlot and produced from the oldest vines which are planted in three of the four blocks, totaling just 3 hectares. In 2016, the grapes were harvested by hand and over 5 days. Following fermentation and then malolactic fermentation in new oak barrels, the wine was racked off into French oak barrels (roughly half new and half second-fill) for 12 months maturation. Just 10,000 bottles were produced.

Packaged in original wooden cases of 6

Clos Cantenac
2016
Saint-Émilion Grand Cru
R 895 per bottle 

“The 2016 Clos Cantenac…has a concentrated bouquet with blackberry and cassis notes, just a hint of raisin, the oak neatly integrated. The palate is medium-bodied with black cherries, blueberry and loganberry. I appreciated the tannin structure here and the acidic drive that reins in the finish and keeps it on track. This should be well worth investigating once in bottle.”
90-92 points | Neal Martin | Wine Advocate (April 2017 from barrel)

The estate’s second wine, labelled Petit Cantenac, incorporates a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon (5%) and Cabernet Franc (5%) planted on the 6-hectare property. The wine undergoes the same treatment as the Grand Vin, except for the maturation where less new oak is used at 30%. 14,000 bottles of the 2016 Petit Cantenac were produced and is meant for earlier enjoyment while the Clos Cantenac requires more time in bottle.

Petit Cantenac
2016
Saint-Émilion Grand Cru
R 550 per bottle 

“Medium to deep garnet in colour, the 2016 Petit Cantenac has a seriously zippy nose of crushed red and black cherries, fresh blackberries and warm plums with hints of menthol, spice cake and violets. The medium to full-bodied palate delivers bags of crunchy blackberry flavours, framed by grainy tannins and a lively backbone, finishing refreshing.”
89 points | Lisa Perrotti-Brown | Wine Advocate (October 2020)

Château Séraphine

Martin acquired two Pomerol estates, Château Monbrun and Clos Picassou, and combined them to create Château Séraphine. The name is in homage to Martin’s grandmother and his Polish farming heritage. The estate is, therefore, made up of two distinctive vineyard blocks, but sill totaling a mere 2.2 hectares. Work in the vineyard is done exclusively by horse for all ploughing and tilling. The team here adopts eco-friendly vinicultural practices; preferring to adapt their approach to suit the health and maturity of the vineyards.

From just 1.2 hectares of Merlot, the grapes for the Grand Vin in 2018 were picked by hand and went through two phases of hand-sorting at the winery. Following fermentation and malolactic fermentation in 300L French oak barrels (50% new, 50% second-fill), the wine matures in barrel for a further 12-14 months. Total production of the 2018 was just 2,400 bottles.

Packaged in original wooden cases of 6

Château Séraphine
2018
Pomerol
R 2,500 per bottle 

“The 2018 Séraphine has developed more precision since I tasted it from barrel, offering well-defined scents of blackberry, raspberry and bilberry; an attractive oyster shell note emerges after 20–30 minutes of aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannins, good depth and cohesion, and fine salinity toward the finish. I appreciate the energy of this Pomerol from proprietor Martin Krajewski. The long finish leaves traces of black truffle on the aftertaste. Excellent.”
 92 points | Neal Martin | Vinous (March 2021)

From the strict sorting of grapes for the Grand Vin, a portion does not make the final selection and is therefore used for the production of the L’Innocence de Séraphine, the estate’s second wine. The wine is therefore made in the exact same way as the Grand Vin – just less is made. Only 1,600 bottles of 2018 L’Innocence were produced.

L’Innocence de Séraphine
2018
Pomerol
R 895 per bottle 

Many thanks.

Kind regards,
Simon Crawley
Account Manager | WSET – Level 3

Food Pairing Suggestions

When deciding on what to eat with red Bordeaux in general, a good starting point is to focus on dishes with a good deal of umami (i.e. elements of sweet, sour, bitter and salty) and a fair degree of fat to stand up to the tannins.

On the meat side, consider dishes like roast pork, beef brisket, venison/game and game bird.

There is plenty for vegetarians too with the likes of roast/basked potatoes, lentils, mushrooms and vegetable casseroles.