2000 Vieux Chateau Certan, Pomerol, Magnum (1.5L) WS97
2006 Vieux Chateau Certan, Pomerol, Bottle (750ml) RP96

Vieux Château Certan – Wine Shaped By Family Legacy

“Two of Pomerol's most extraordinary vineyards are owned by members of the Thienpont family: Vieux Chateau Certan by Alexandre Thienpont and Le Pin by Jacques Thienpont, who are cousins. Both properties knocked it out of the park during the trio of 2015, 2016, and 2017 vintages.” Lisa Perrotti-Brown for The Wine Independent Nov 2022

In the heart of Pomerol, where the sun-drenched vineyards paint a picturesque landscape, the history of Vieux Château Certan begins in the mid-1700s. Originally part of the larger Demay de Certan estate, the wines produced were known as Sertan. The estate saw its first château established around 1770, laying the foundations for a legacy that would endure the test of time. The Thienpont Family have set a legacy as Georges, three grandsons become winemakers from three separate branches of the Thienpont clan. Today each make wines at Châteaux Le Pin, Vieux Château Certan and Pavie Macquin.

Revolutionary Changes

The winds of change blew through the vineyards during the French Revolution, leading to the division of the land. Out of this upheaval emerged Vieux Château Certan, along with its counterparts like Certan de May. The landscape transformed, and each property began to carve its own destiny.

Throughout much of the 19th century, Vieux Château Certan stood tall, earning a reputation as the pinnacle of Pomerol's winemaking. However, in the 1870s, a formidable competitor emerged in the form of Pétrus, temporarily overshadowing Vieux Château Certan's reign.

The Visionary

In 1924, the estate found a new custodian in the form of Georges Thienpont, a Belgian Bordeaux negotiant. Thienpont brought innovation to the forefront, introducing the distinctive pink capsule that covers the cork. Beyond its chic appearance, this capsule served a practical purpose - it allowed him to easily identify if his wines graced the cellars of his discerning clientele.

The early 1930s brought challenging times, marked by poor weather and the economic depression. Thienpont, original owner of Troplong Mondot in Saint-Émilion, was compelled to sell. This period also witnessed a hiatus in Vieux Château Certan's production, with no wines crafted from 1931 to 1933.

The 1940s, however, ushered in a renaissance. Exceptional vintages from 1945 to 1950 revitalized the estate. Unfortunately, limited international exposure hindered widespread recognition, as the wines were primarily distributed through Thienpont's Belgian company. It wasn't until the 1980s that Vieux Château Certan embraced the broader negociant market and participated in en primeur sales.

A Modern Resurgence

In recent decades, Vieux Château Certan has rekindled its quest for excellence. The driving force behind this resurgence is Alexandre Thienpont, who assumed control in 1986. With a vision for the future, he introduced the estate's second wine, revamped the winery in 1988 and 2003, and implemented practices such as green harvesting to reduce yields. Alexandre's dedication and strategic decisions have propelled Vieux Château Certan back into the limelight, challenging once more for the top spot in the appellation. Assisted by his son, Guillaume, the Thienpont family continues to weave a narrative of resilience and renaissance at Vieux Château Certan, ensuring that its wines remain a testament to Bordeaux's enduring legacy.

Right-Bank Prestige

The Vineyard

Situated at the top and center of the Pomerol plateau, Vieux Château Certan shares its prestigious neighborhood with the iconic Pétrus. This privileged location on the undulating landscape imparts a unique character to the wines, capturing the essence of the terroir that has made Pomerol synonymous with excellence.

The Soil

The majority of Vieux Château Certan's vines thrive on the famed Gunz gravel terrace, a soil composition of large pebbles and clay overlaying an iron-rich subsoil. This combination creates an inherently fertile ground, demanding meticulous care to balance vine vigor and channel energy into the ripening of grapes. Approximately 30 percent of the property extends over deeper clay soils, adding depth and complexity to the vineyard's character.

The Varietals

Merlot reigns supreme in the vineyards, making up 65 percent of the plantings and harmonizing with both clay and clay-gravel soils. Cabernet Franc claims 30 percent, showcasing its prowess in the clay-gravel sections. The remaining 5 percent, reserved for the gravelliest areas, is dedicated to Cabernet Sauvignon. These varietals reflect the estate's commitment to marrying savoir-faire with the exceptional nuances of its soils.

A Tale Of Time

The wines of Vieux Château Certan bear witness to the passage of time. Possessing a natural concentration, they beckon for patient cellaring, revealing their true character only after a few years. As with the most illustrious Bordeaux wines, the optimal enjoyment unfolds after a maturation period of 10 to 15 years, a testament to the enduring legacy and age-worthy nature of Vieux Château Certan.

The Wine – “Up There With The Greats”

100 Points “A thrill a minute, wine doesn’t get any better, and I only wish every reader could taste this beauty. Jeb Dunnuck Feb 2019 on 2015 VCC

Each vintage of Vieux Château Certan is a carefully curated blend of the finest lots, showcasing a brilliance of hue, richness of aromas, and of flavor that define its inimitable style. These wines gracefully demand a few years of patient cellaring before uncorking.

The prestigious wines of Vieux Château Certan invite aficionados to embark on a journey through time, savoring the complexities and nuances that make each bottle an important part of the enduring legacy of Bordeaux winemaking.

Written by: Arabella Maislinger

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