VIEUX CHÂTEAU CERTAN
|Sub-district||Pomerol & Lalande de Pomerol|
The weather wasn't with us', said Guillaume Thienpont, explaining that the Cabernet Franc was just not good enough this year. They have made only a thousand cases of Grand Vin, with two thirds of the crop going to the second wine. Perfumed floral and red fruit nose, palate smooth and light with a slight hardening of acidity. The signature silky elegance without the power and richness, and without the characteristic Cabernet Franc fruit flavours either. They really waited for as much ripeness as they could get, despite the pressure of the developing botrytis, because, as Guillaume put it, 'vegetal flavours are not acceptable these days', but then had to be very gentle with extraction. 2016-2021 Rating: 89 L&S (Apr 2014)
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Vieux Château Certan
Founded in the 16th century, the Vieux Chateau Certan has kept its name since 1745. In 1924 it was acquired by Georges Thienpont. Situated in the heart of Pomerol, this Château is the oldest cru of the appellation. Since its early days it has gained a reputation of being one of the rarest and most prestigious crus in the world. It is hailed for the exquisite finesse of its wines, the elegance of the chartreuse chateau surrounded by age-old trees, the order and quality of the vineyard – Vieux Château Certan inspires and fascinates wine connoisseurs around the world.
Approximately 1,000 cases of the 2013 Vieux Chateau Certan (versus the normal 4,000 cases) were produced. Alexandre Thienpont told me that yields were 22 hectoliters per hectare, and the final blend was unusual in that it was 92% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc. The alcohol was a surprisingly lofty 13%. While charming, tasty and elegant, this wine does not possess the depth, fat or texture of a great vintage. The tropical September that spawned botrytis throughout Bordeaux vineyards had to be cut out, and the result was a ridiculously small crop that cost a fortune to produce, but will never sell for a high price since it is a good rather than exceptional wine. Drink it over the next 5-7 years. 2014-2021 Rating: 87-88 Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate, www.RobertParker.com (Aug 2014)
(92% merlot and 8% cabernet franc): Bright ruby. Perfumed, very pure aromas of raspberry, blackcurrant and violet. Enters the mouth bright and fresh, with juicy small red and dark berry flavors complicated by hints of iron and cedar. The finish is long and a little austere. Another solid 2013 wine that is only missing the fruit and charm of the better vintages. Interestingly, while many in Bordeaux (Medoc estates included) are starting to increase their use of cabernet franc, even if only by small amounts, at VCC the percentage of this variety seems to be decreasing almost every year. Rating: 87-90 Ian d'Agata - Stephen Tanzer website (May 2014)
Merlot 92% Cabernet Franc 8%. Sweet fruited on the nose the palate starts with freshness a fragrant mix of red fruits and black cherry. There is depth in the middle ripe flavours generous and rich but towards the back it feels lighter with a strong red fruited finish. 2020-35. Rating: 91-94 Derek Smedley MW, www.dereksmedleymw.co.uk (May 2014)
At one point there was a rumour that, like its sister property Le Pin, VCC wouldn’t show its wine en primeur. But they proved to be wrong, even if quantities are small. It’s fine and refreshing, with granular tannins, good acidity and a grassy undertone. 2018-26 Rating: 92 Tim Atkin MW, www.timatkin.com (May 2014)
(92 Merlot, 8 Cabernet Franc) The selection was so severe here that only a fifth of the crop was made. In 2013, 1000 cases of VCC will be released compared to 5000 in a normal year. There were big problems at flowering here - they lost half the crop. After an average August the awful September came. They sorted the fruit on the vine but decided very early on that 2/3 would be made into the second wine Gravette. The Grand Vin, with its dominant Merlot theme, is truly magnificent. It is one of the most compelling wines of the vintage. The poise, balance and freshness are in a class of their own. There is nobility here and the counterpoint between darkness and levity is arresting. Sleek, controlled, polished and cool, the crunch of tannin is thrilling. The aromatic lift on the nose is sets the whole wine up. There are fleeting moments of exotic perfume tempered by restraint and calm. I love it. Rating: 18.5 Matthew Jukes www.matthewjukes.com (Apr 2014)
Less than 1,000 cases – 4,000 in a normal year. Mainly (92%) Merlot. Suave texture. Rich and ripe. Structured palate but a little less definition. Very good all the same. Drink: 2020-2035. Rating: 17.5 James Lawther MW, decanter.com (Apr 2014)
The Vieux Château Certan 2013 is a blend of 92% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc picked from 30 September until 9th October at 22hl/ha. It has a lovely, pure bouquet with small red cherries, rose petals and mineral that has exquisite delineation, though it does not possess the profundity of a top tier VCC. The palate is precise on the entry, a little pinched perhaps but with aeration it unfurls nicely. There is great tension here: a streamlined VCC that has the precision of a Swiss watch and a sense of tension that Hitchcock would have been proud of Rating: 92-94 Neal Martin, www.robertparker.com (Apr 2014)
Another lively 2013 with lemon peel, minerals and blueberries. Medium body with fine tannins and a bright, delicious finish. Delicate. Tangy and bright. Only 1,000 cases instead of the usual 4,000. 92% merlot and 8% cabernet franc. Rating: 90-91 James Suckling, www.jamessuckling.com (Apr 2014)
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