The 2016 Vieux Château Certan is blended of 85% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep garnet-purple in color, it leaps from the glass with pristine, vivid notions of candied violets, chocolate-covered cherries, blackberry compote and mulberries with fragrant touches of raspberry leaves, crushed rocks, licorice, cumin seed and yeast extract plus a waft of red roses. Medium to full-bodied and beautifully elegant, the palate builds from a quiet intensity to an incredibly well-sustained aria of crunchy red and black cherries notes plus tons of floral undertones, framed by exquisitely soft yet firm tannins and seamless freshness, finishing very long with lingering mineral and floral sparks. How does this 2016 compare to the also amazing 2015 vintage? Stylistically they are very different, as my notes on each should convey, but beyond this I am struck by the incredible harmony and seamlessness of the 2016 along with its amazing depth and energy this year. Bravo! RP/100
Bottled at the beginning of June 2018 using a new, dedicated on-site bottling line, this 2016 vintage of Vieux Château Certan is the most hauntingly vivid and achingly beautiful expression of this vineyard I have ever tasted. When I asked Alexandre Thienpont and his son Guillaume about how they came to achieve such a remarkable wine, they explained the extraordinary efforts taken this year. “We worked a lot this year on vigor,” Alexandre explained. “Tannin ripeness was the key. Finally, the rains in September gave the vines enough energy to push the tannins through.” Other measures included deleafing in two passes, crop thinning and meticulous sorting in the vineyards and winery. “We marked the vines that suffered from the dry conditions and did not include them in blends.” The results of this duo’s extraordinary efforts combined with an already great growing season is pure perfection that will make your heart race from the moment you take that first transfixing sniff.
A horse of a different color among its peers in this vintage, featuring an extremely vivid core of pastis-soaked plum, cassis and blackberry fruit streaming forth. Muscular yet imbued with racy cut, the finish ripples along the edges, with sweet tobacco, warm gravel and ganache notes. A violet hint glistens here and there for added effect. Power and vivacity make a thrilling combo. Best from 2023 through 2040. WS/97
This big, rich wine has perfumed Cabernet Franc flavors to give shape to the dominant Merlot. It is a well-structured wine, elegant and with juicy acidity. It displays power and concentration along with restraint and style. Drink this wine from 2024. WE/98
The 2016 Vieux Château Certan is the first vintage to be entirely bottled by the estate’s own bottling machine (just in case that ever comes up in a wine quiz). Alexandre Thienpont mentioned that he assiduously left out the stressed vines, and he places this above his more hedonistic 2015. The wine takes a few minutes to open in the glass, but boy, is it worth the wait: it reveals pixelated red fruit (crushed strawberry and raspberry) and crushed stone, plus a hint of graphite emanating from the Cabernets. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, slightly chalky tannin that frames pure black and red fruit infused with graphite and almost flint-like notes. This is one of the most mineral-driven VCCs that I have encountered in over 20 years, with dizzying precision on the finish. A very intellectual Pomerol, in the realm of the profound. AG/100
The ripeness in this wine is incredibly balanced and perfect with plum and orange-peel character, buttressed by the ripe seeds of the grapes that give a hazelnut and coffee undertone. Turns to violets. Full body with firm and very sexy tannins that are perfectly balanced and polished. Some chocolate and dried black tea-leaf character in the aftertaste. Wonderful finish. Needs five to six years to soften, but already a joy to experience. Try after 2025. JS/99