Chateau Vieux Ch. Certan
|Listed Wines||Vieux Ch. Certan|
|Annual Production (Grand Vin)||4-5,000 cases|
|Second Wine||La Gravette de Certan|
|Interesting Fact||Won the accolade of being judged ‘Best Pomerol’ of the dificult 2011 vintage- a truly remarkable achievement considering the competition from superstars such as Le Pin, Petrus and Lafleur!|
The Thienpont family have an impressive degree of fine wine business accumen- in Bordeaux they own the prestigious Le Pin and numerous others. Whilst Vieux-Chateau-Certan is far less well-known than Le Pin, it has produced a far better critically received wine in both the 2010 and 2011 vintages- a significant achievement.
Release prices fell for these two vintages which significantly helped the brand’s market standing, with 25% lower yields for the 2010 helping stimulate demand further. It is said there is wisdom in crowds and the 370 respondents (all professional wine buyers and tasters) to the esteemed Liv-ex en primeur survey picked Vieux-Chateau-Certan as the 4th best of the 2010 vintage in Bordeaux overall, just beating fellow Pomerol, Petrus. James Suckling reflected the sentiment, awarding it his perfect 100-point score.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Vieux-Chateau-Certan produced stunning wines which are still highly sought after today and do extremely well when they, rarely, surface at auction today. A full-bodied, velvety wine it ages extremely well to an unctuous, port-like consistency. Since the mid-nineties, the chateau has been on a steady climb back up to where it belongs- at the top of the Pomerol producers. Having created a trio of beautiful wines from 07-09 (of which 2009 is, of course, the zenith), the 2010 and 2011 vintages have also received rave reviews en primeur. The 2009 remains the highest ever Parker-scored wine from this producer, excluding the now-mythical, perfect 1945 vintage. It received 99 RPJ points:
“The 2009's nearly 14% natural alcohol, exquisite ripeness, and incredible complex bouquet of Asian spices, fruitcake, liquorice, smoke, blackberries and black currants are to die for. A blend of 84% Merlot and the rest equal parts Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, it possesses a viscous texture as well as a freshness and vibrancy that are remarkable given the wine’s weight, richness and potential massiveness. This extraordinary effort is one of the finest Vieux Chateau Certans made over the last sixty years. It will undoubtedly shut down in bottle, requiring a decade or more of cellaring. It should keep for 50 years thereafter. Proprietor Thienpont thinks it is a modern day version of the 1948.”
Robert Parker Jr. 99 points
Somewhat of a peculiarity in Bordeaux, Vieux-Chateau-Certan has Celtic origins, having originally been owned by the Scottish Demay family. Its current owners, the Thienpont family, have held the reins for decades, having come into control of estate upon Georges Thienpont’s purchase in 1924.
At the time of sale, the property was not particularly impressive and, initially, not much improved under the Thienpont era; Vieux-Chateau-Certan played second fiddle somewhat to Georges’ other winery, Troplong Mondot. Interwar financial difficulty that befell the family turned out to be serendipitious however- Thienpont was forced to sell the more profitable Troplong Mondot and thereafter turned his attention to Vieux-Chateau-Certan. With a much needed cash injection, Georges set about improving and renovating the estate.
His son Leon moved into the chateau, and the wines of the estate began to flourish as a result of the much needed TLC. The 1940s and 1950s saw one hit vintage follow another and a strong reputation was established. This was tarnished somewhat by a dip in quality during the 70s and 80s, but thankfully restored in timely fashion following Leon’s succession in 1985 by his son Alexandre, who has ushered in a new age of glory.
Chateau Vieux Ch. Certan Pricing
Highest rated vintages for Chateau Vieux Ch. Certan
The 2009's nearly 14% natural alcohol, exquisite ripeness, and incredible complex bouquet of Asian spices, fruitcake, licorice, smoke, blackberries and black currants are to die for. A blend of 84% Merlot and the rest equal parts Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, it possesses a viscous texture as well as a freshness and vibrancy that are remarkable given the wine’s weight, richness and potential massiveness. This extraordinary effort is one of the finest Vieux Chateau Certans made over the last sixty years. It will undoubtedly shut down in bottle, requiring a decade or more of cellaring. It should keep for 50 years thereafter. Proprietor Thienpont thinks it is a modern day version of the 1948. As I wrote in my barrel tasting notes, the 2009 ranks alongside four of the legendary vintages of Vieux Chateau Certan’s ancient past, 1945, 1947, 1948 and 1950. It is undoubtedly a cleaner wine than those older vintages, and the selection process under proprietor Alexandre Thienpont was far more severe in 2009 than it would have been sixty years ago.
The 2010 Vieux Chateau Certan, a blend of 86% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, tips the scales at 14.5% alcohol. Production was lower than in 2009 and the alcohol slightly higher, but the pH is 3.7, which is surprisingly reasonable given the lofty power and alcoholic clout this full-bodied wine possesses. Dense purple-colored , the 2010 displays a vivid yet astonishing array of spice box, red, blue and black fruits, crushed rock and spring flowers. The oak is well-concealed behind the lavish concentration and richness. Exceptionally pure, this unbelievable wine flirts with perfection. Unfortunately, there is 20% less of it than in 2009, and the tannins warrant a good 8-10 years of cellaring, as I suspect it could actually close down. This is another 40- to 50-year effort in 2010 that should elicit considerable interest from wine consumers. Thienpont thinks he has produced three wines - 2008, 2009 and 2010 - that are the greatest trilogy in the history of Vieux Chateau Certan, rivaling what this estate did in 1947, 1948 and 1949.
One of the top wines of the vintage is the exquisite 2006 Vieux Chateau Certan. A blend of 83% Merlot and 17% Cabernet Franc, it is a stunningly rich effort boasting an inky/blue/purple color as well as a gorgeous nose of forest floor, coffee, toast, and extravagant levels of black currants and blackberries. Hints of charcoal and flowers add to the wine’s exquisite character. What’s remarkable in this full-bodied wine is that nearly 100% new oak is used, yet the oak is largely drowned out by the wine’s concentration and complex personality. This full-bodied Vieux Chateau Certan should be reasonably approachable in 3-4 years but last for at least three decades. This great success merits kudos to proprietor Alexandre Thienpont.
A stunning effort from Alexander Thienpont, the 2005 Vieux Chateau Certan (a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc) reveals an inky/blue/purple color along with a rich, sumptuous perfume of black olives, lavender, roasted herbs, licorice, pain grille, and oodles of truffles as well as creme de cassis. In the mouth, hints of chocolate and charcoal also make an appearance along with good acidity, fabulous purity, and a full-bodied, powerful mouthfeel. In keeping with the style of this terroir, the wine is reserved and restrained, but deep. It should develop magnificently, and age for 30-40 years. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2035.
This was a very strong vintage for Vieux Chateau Certan. The 1990 reveals a deep garnet color to the rim along with a sweet bouquet of charcoal, licorice, roasted herbs, forest floor, and a meaty, truffle-like scent. A fleshy, full-bodied wine with exceptionally low acidity, plenty of melted tannin, and a long, layered finish, this beauty is close to full maturity, but it is in no danger of falling apart. It should keep for another 15+ years. Release price: ($590.00/case)
A brilliant effort from Alexandre Thienpont, this blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc is a deep purple-colored, fleshy, layered effort offering a sweet nose of creosote, incense, Christmas spices, plenty of red and black fruits, and hints of licorice as well as new oak. Rich, medium to full-bodied, with tremendous purity in addition to nobility, give it two more years of cellaring and drink it over the next following 15-18 years.
A top success, the 2012 Vieux Chateau Certan is composed of 87% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep mulberry, plum and black cherry fruit notes intermixed with touches of graphite and subtle smoke lead to a medium-bodied wine with beautiful intensity, well-integrated oak, a velvety opulence and a long, impressively pure finish. A strong effort, it should drink well for 15 or more years. Alexander Thienpont continues to turn out brilliant wines from this property situated on the high Plateau of Pomerol. The harvest took place between October 1 and 11, producing 33 hectoliters per hectare. The 2012 achieved 13.5% alcohol, a pH of 3.8 and an index of polyphenols as high as the 2010, which was somewhat surprising. It is not nearly as powerful or rich as the 2010 or the 2009. All the old vine parcels of Merlot made it into the final blend.
An outstanding effort in this challenging vintage for Pomerol, this elegant blend (only 800 cases, or one-third the usual production) of 80% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot boasts a dense ruby/purple hue as well as a sumptuous perfume of burning embers, incense, cedar, roasted herbs, and sweet black cherries and currants. Neither big nor weighty, it is an elegant, medium-bodied, finesse-styled, velvety-textured 2003 to drink over the next 10-14 years.
Not yet fully mature, this wine reveals some amber at the edge as well as a complex, intoxicating nose of cedar, licorice, spice box, black currants, and cherries. While medium to full-bodied with sweet tannins, and beautiful concentration, it appears to me that more recent vintages are stronger and denser than the 1982. Nevertheless, it is a beauty that can be drunk now and over the next 15-16 years. Release price: ($175.00/case)
This stunning blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc boasts a dense ruby/purple color along with a big, sweet bouquet of black cherries, licorice, roasted herbs, smoke, and cassis. Elegant, medium to full-bodied, pure flavors reveal moderately high tannin, but superb concentration and richness. Vieux Chateau Certan should be one of the longer-lived and most complex wines of the vintage. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2025.