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2009 Vieux Chateau Certan

2009 Vieux Chateau Certan

100 JS

Featured Review
This is a wine that had extreme intensity of electrifying tannins and acidity, with supercharged fruit. Full-bodied, yet agile and lively. It touches every taste bud on your palate. Chocolate mousse and fruit. I am lost for words. Legendary 1950 all over again. Try it in 2020. James Suckling

James Suckling | 100 JS

Critic Reviews

This is a wine that had extreme intensity of electrifying tannins and acidity, with supercharged fruit. Full-bodied, yet agile and lively. It touches every taste bud on your palate. Chocolate mousse and fruit. I am lost for words. Legendary 1950 all over again. Try it in 2020.

James Suckling | 100 JS
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.

Robert Parker | 99 RP
This shows gorgeous silk and polish, brimming with beguiling plum, cherry eau de vie and red currant fruit flavors laced with supple toasty vanilla and cedar hints. But in the background brews a darker side, with loam, maduro tobacco and iron notes, which take over on the finish authoritatively. This feels like it will get a lot bigger before it fully melds--and that will be a while. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2018 through 2035. 4,300 cases made.

Wine Spectator | 97 WS
(Vieux Château Certan) The 2009 Vieux Château Certan is a great wine in the making, but it will be a rather atypical vintage for this great estate, as the rains of the 19th and 20th of September played havoc a bit with the cabernet franc vineyards here, and a much larger percentage of merlot ended up being used for the grand vin in this vintage. Consequently the ’09 VCC is comprised of eighty-four percent merlot this year, with the balance made up of equal pars of cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon. But despite the atypical blend, the wine is stunning, as it offers up a beautiful nose of black cherries, blood orange, tobacco leaf, really lovely minerality, espresso and a discreet base of vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and very, very pure, with plenty of power, a rock solid core of fruit, tangy acids, fine-grained tannins and great length and purity on the complex and beautifully poised finish. A great wine. (Drink between 2020-2060)

John Gilman | 93-94+ JG
The 2009 Vieux-Château-Certan has a gorgeous bouquet with red fruit, warm bricks, just a hint of sloes and rose petals. The palate is medium-bodied with tarry red fruit, firm tannin and well judged acidity. It tapers in slightly towards the finish where I would like a little more roundness but there is persistence here. Readers know I am huge fan of Alexandre Thienpont and this property, but I aver that this growing season never suited them. Tasted blind at Farr Vintners’ 2009 Bordeaux tasting.

Vinous Media | 93 VM

Wine Details for 2009 Vieux Chateau Certan

Type of Wine Bordeaux Red : Picture in your mind a combination of cedar, lead pencil, blackcurrant, plum and mineral aromatics, and texture that caresses your palate like a playful lover. The experience is thrilling from the first whiff to the final seconds of a tannic, generous finish - that is what you'll get from a Bordeaux Red
Varietal Red Bordeaux Blend : The inhabitants of the Bordeaux region of France have been cultivating wine-grapes for thousands of years. Ancient Roman ruins litter the vineyards from Saint Emilion to Graves where the art of blending Bordeaux varietals has been practiced and perfected over a very long history. Bordeaux’s climate, terroir and soils, though varied, provide the optimal growing conditions for the red grape varietals planted in the region.

Rarely listed on the labels as “blend,” the red wines of Bordeaux are perhaps the most artfully designed and celebrated in the world. The calculated art of blending the native Bordeaux varietals is impressively accomplished in the most famous winegrowing region in the world. The phrase Bordeaux Blend which seems to have been coined by British wine merchants in the 19th Century relates as much to wines made from the blend as to the grape variety combination itself.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and occasionally Carmenere are the lead characters in the creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. Each plays a part in their own fashion and implemented in various combinations and percentages in each appellation within Bordeaux. Red Bordeaux Blends are majorly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, roughly making up 90% of all Bordeaux Blends. Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec (occasionally Carmenere) are also important components and vital to the production of the region’s red wines.

For simplicity, the winegrowing region of Bordeaux can be divided into three main appellations producing Red Bordeaux Blends; the Left Bank (Medoc), Right Bank and Pessac-Leognan (Graves). The Left Bank has a terroir comprised of a wide variety of gravel, stones, sand, limestone and clay soils on a natural terrain of gentle slopes. This sets the stage perfectly for the production of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the dominant grape of the Left Bank. For example, Chateau Lafite (Paulliac) is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Right Bank is dominated by clay and limestone with sand and gravel, but the clay in the Right Bank is distinctly its own and adds to the health, growth and vitality of the vines of the varietals grown here. Right Bank wines are typically 80% Merlot-based, which are often denser, richer and mature earlier than those of the Left Bank (with exceptions – Petrus for example). Merlot is a vital component to Pomerol winegrowing and making. Cabernet Franc also plays a major role in the Right Bank, most notably, in Saint Emilion, where the infamous vineyards of Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval Blanc are planted to 55% and 52% Cabernet Franc, respectively. Chateaux that produce wines with a majority of Cabernet Franc are considered “old school” producers, but have perfected the use of Cabernet Franc, which was originally used as a blending grape.

Pessac-Leognan (Graves) enjoys a temperate climate, natural hygrometry influenced by the ocean, and has a terroir composed of gravelly soil over a clay subsoil on sloping, hilly terrain. Natural drainage due to the hilly terrain as well as the gravelly soil structure are perfectly attuned to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape vine, which prospers under these conditions. Pessac reaps the benefits of having the terroir of both the Left and Right Bank as it contains gravel and clay. The clay sub-soil allows the growth and success of Merlot, as well as Cabernet Franc. It is home to the only First Growth not in the Medoc. The 50-hectare vineyard of Haut Brion is planted to 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.

The percentage of Petit Verdot and Malbec may be lesser in quantity, but not in quality. They are vital to the region’s creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. The combination of Bordeaux varietals is legendary in the region, around the world and has influenced winegrowers worldwide to plant and vinify wines which resemble those of Red Bordeaux Blends.

Country France : Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.

For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.

France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.

France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.

Subregion Pomerol


Producer Chateau Vieux Chateau Certan : Great wine estates understand the importance of allowing the natural landscape and climate to dictate grape varieties cultivated. Though Pomerol is part of Bordeaux, it differs in climate and geology from the Medoc, where Cabernet Sauvignon reigns. Pomerol is Merlot territory, where high clay content lay deep below the surface with mostly sand and gravel with a high proportion of stone on top allowing the vines to prosper. Chateau Vieux Chateau Certan is one of the oldest in the appellation and has been successfully exploiting the benefits of its terroir; producing some of the greatest wines not only in Pomerol, but perhaps in all of Bordeaux.

Though the land of Pomerol is relatively flat, Vieux Chateau Certan rests atop the Pomerol Plateau, where its vines abut those of Chateau Petrus. This is where the grapes of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and miniscule amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon enjoy perfect harmony of complex soil composition and a unique micro-climate. Its geographical location farther south on the right bank lends to its warmer temperatures and an earlier ripening season.

The 14 hectares of Vieux Chateau Certan are planted in one single block which is made up of 23 plots. Each is managed individually according to soil type, grape variety and age of vines. The soils are varied subtly and contain a very clayey part planted mainly with Merlot (70%), a gravel-clay part planted with Cabernet Franc (25%), and a very gravely part planted with Cabernet Sauvignon (5%). Each planting is an impressive display of human talent and respect for nature and the anticipation of what the terroir will best allow to succeed.

Founded at the beginning of the 16th century by the Demay family, who were well known for their work in the Bordeaux wine trade. The wines we know today as Vieux Chateau Certan were originally sold under the name “Sertan.” Their formative years enjoyed great success as it was considered one of the top wines in Pomerol if not the best. In truth, since its inception Vieux Chateau Certan has displayed the impressive character of a top Bordeaux.

In 1924, Georges Thienpont, a popular Belgian Bordeaux wine merchant purchased the estate. He was already a successful landowner of the Saint-Emilion property of Troplong Mondot, but his relationship to Vieux Chateau Certan was important, as was the wine’s success and image in the market place. He developed a savvy marketing ploy in an effort to discover which of his clients were buying his wine. In discreet fashion, he implanted the use of distinctive pink capsule that we still see on the bottles today. Pink was also the color of the moment for Parisian designers, making the look of the bottle quite chic.

The Thienpont family remains in control of the estate today, continuing the efforts of maintaining the prestige and success that Vieux Chateau Certan has relished since the 16th century. A mighty task to live up to, but it rests dutifully in the hands of Georges Thienpont’s grandson Alexandre. He lives and works for his wine and is known in Bordeaux as the man who intimately knows each vine in his 14 hectare vineyard. It is safe to say that the wine bottle with the pink capsule’s legacy will continue to live on and prosper.

He has since brought Vieux Chateau Certan to its golden age. The wines have received world-wide acclaim for their bold character, purity, elegance, suppleness and complexity, which are typical for the terroir and micro-climate of the Pomerol plateau. Alexander introduced a second wine, La Gravette de Certan, and in keeping with tradition, it too has the distinctive pink capsule. The Grand Vin has an annual production of 5,000 cases. The remaining fruit goes into the making of the second wine or is sold as a generic Pomerol wine.

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