Vieux Château Certan, Pomerol
The Vieux Château Certan estate has existed since the mid-1700s, though the date of establishment is unknown. Like all of the wines in the Pomerol Appellation, Vieux Château Certan is not classified but is widely regarded as one of the great growths of the region and one of the world’s great wines.
The 2020 Vieux Château Certan is a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc, picked on the 14th to the 24th of September for the Merlot, then on the 28th and 29th of September for the Cabernet Franc. The pH is 3.77 and the alcohol is 14.5%. Deep purple-black colored, it needs considerable coaxing, swirling and a lot of patience before it finally lets rip an intoxicating perfume of ripe, juicy black plums, Morello cherries, candied violets, black truffles and crushed rocks, giving way to hints of black tea, molten licorice and Sichuan pepper, plus a waft of dusty red soil. The medium to full-bodied palate delivers achingly ripe, silt-like tannins and shimmering freshness that melds with the black fruits and earthy layers with jaw-dropping seamlessness, finishing with layer upon layer of mineral and savory suggestions and, finally, a gorgeous floral whisper. There are going to be two ways to approach this: 1) Just let the remarkably sensual, inexplicable beauty of it wash over you or 2) Try to unravel all those intricate layers and have it blow you mind. Either way, this is simply an incredible achievement—bravo Alexandre and Guillaume Thienpont!
(98-100) points, Wine Advocate (May 2021)
Extraordinary clarity and brilliance on the nose with ink and iodine, blackberry and blueberry. Really perfumed already. Full-bodied with fine tannins and superb depth and length. I love the complexity and the great texture. Energetic finish.
(98-99) points, JamesSuckling.com (May 2021)
Concentrated and complex flavours with a silky, velvety and supremely seductive texture, alongside a ton of energy, freshness and juice. It has dense muscular tannins, and is going to age beautifully. As it opens you get the aromatics coming out, and the Merlot fleshy fruits become generous and welcoming, opulent without being tiring. A little less Cabernet Franc in the blend than normal because one of the three plots has currently been pulled up before replanting. Harvest September 14 to 29. 3.77pH. A yield of 30hl/ha because of the dry weather through the summer followed by the flashes of heat in September, among lowest ever (similar to 2010). Drinking Window 2027 - 2042
95 points, Decanter (May 2021)
85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc. Cask sample.
Deep, intense colour. Lovely open expression of fruit on the nose with floral notes and plenty of lift and relief. Palate ripe but vinous and sappy, the tannins finely honed offering a velvety texture. Contained power and concentration behind. Slight glow but remains digeste. Another top year.
18++ points, James Lawther, JancisRobinson.com (April 2021)
Pomerol, on the Right Bank of Bordeaux’s Gironde River, produces some of the world’s most sought-after wines, including those from such storied properties as Chateau Petrus. Yet Pomerol, the smallest of the fine-wine-producing districts of Bordeaux, offers no Grand Cru or Premier Cru wines: It’s the most significant Bordeaux appellation not included in any quality ranking. At the time of the historic 1855 Classification of Bordeaux, Right Bank chateaux were considered remote and difficult to travel to, and so were ignored by the merchants who created the classification. (St. Émilion, a notable neighbour on the Right Bank, created its own classification system in 1954.)
Pomerol has managed to do quite well without this form of validation. Pomerol’s predominantly clay soil is ideally suited for Merlot, the primary grape used in the appellation. Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are also included in Pomerol’s blended red wines. The wines of Pomerol are lush and rich, and generally not as tannic as the Cabernet-based wines of Bordeaux’s Left Bank. Although Pomerol’s very best wines are capable of aging for decades, most are made for immediate consumption. These Merlot-based wines are known for their lush texture, elegance and grace, as well as the softer tannins they offer in comparison to the Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines made elsewhere in Bordeaux.