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Vieux Château Certan 2009

Grape VarietyMerlot

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Tasting Notes

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, Wine Advocate, March 2012

A blend of 84% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2009 exhibits an opaque purple color as well as a glorious bouquet of black currants, subtle smoke, charcoal, Christmas spices, and licorice. Massive, unctuously textured, and rich, but at the same time refreshing and vibrant, this extraordinary effort appears to be the finest Vieux Chateau Certan made in my lifetime. (Tasted once.)

Proprietor Alexandre Thienpont told me he has never seen such weather and perfect grapes, and that one would have to go back as far as his grandfather's time to find another weather scenario that so benefitted Bordeaux. With an off-the-chart index of tannin, with alcohol levels of 13.7 to 14 percent, and normal pH of 3.7, Vieux Chateau Certan has produced a 2009 that is equal to their four greatest vintages - 1945, 1947, 1948, and 1950.

Robert Parker added an asterisk to this wine score to signify that it is a wine he considers has the finest potential of all the offerings he has ever tasted from this estate in nearly 32 years of barrel tasting samples in Bordeaux.

Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (188), April 2010

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. 2021 - 2038

Neal Martin, vinous.com, March 2019

The VCC '09 is a blend of 84% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, cropped from 21st September until 2nd October, offering 13.7% alcohol and a pH of 3.7. It has a ripe, lifted bouquet of blackberry, black plum, graphite and raspberry, but boy, do I miss that Cabernet Franc that Alexandre felt did not reach full maturity when he made the assemblage (the same happened in 1998.) The palate is medium-bodied, firm tannins, the Merlot doing its utmost to compensate for the Cabernet Franc. Good weight, notes of blackberry, a touch of white pepper and a citric thread of acidity, the finish just a little foursquare but opening and deepening with time. This is a very fine VCC, but not the profound Pomerol it might have been. Tasted April 2010.

Neal Martin, RobertParker.com, April 2010

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, JamesSuckling.com, February 2012

Vieux Château Certan has been making superb wines for decades. I have tasted VCCs from the 1940s and 1950s that are spectacular, particularly the 1945 and 1950. However, I believe that the property now is making as good or better wines - particularly its current released 2009. The wine, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc with a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon, is always racy and complex. It's never a blockbuster. It impresses with its combination of strength and finesse.

James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com, January 2012

This has an incredible nose of chocolate and berries that turns to sweet tobacco and China tea leaves. Full-bodied, with a beautiful softness and silkiness that makes you want to keep tasting it. Goes on and on. 84 percent Merlot, 8 percent Cabernet Franc and 8 percent Cabernet Sauvignon.

James Suckling, WineSpectator.com, April 2010

84% Merlot (mainly the 1942 plantings), 8% Cabernet Franc, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. Same blend as in 1998, oddly - which was their reference point for Merlot. pH 3.8, 40+ hl/ha compared with the very small vintages of 2008 and 2006. 'Now that we have a better cellar, we can take more risks. In old days we couldn't have taken 09's risks.' Unusually low proportion of Cabernet Franc; these particular old vines just did not deliver in 2009. Very dark - much darker than Le Pin. Very luscious - more like the nose you would expect of Le Pin! Very big and rich and full. Round and chewy and very very ripe but not heavy nor very hot. Splendid nose with great richness and savour but not excessive sweetness. Gouleyant. Date tasted 30th March 2010. Drink 2016-2030.

Jancis Robinson MW, JancisRobinson.com, April 2010

Alexandre Thienpont has been making sensational VCCs for several years from the venerable old vines of this exceptionally well situated vineyard. The youngest Merlots were planted in 1959 and the youngest Cabernet Francs in 1948. This is one of the great properties of Pomerol and it benefits from a higher percentage of Cabernet than is normal in the appellation. The 2009 blend is 84% Merlot with 8% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, picked towards the end of September. The first wine represents 70% of the total crop. Alexandre compares it to his classic 1998 vintage. An intensely creamy, perfumed nose of black cherry ice cream. Ripe red fruit on the palate - balanced, concentrated and warm, without being massive. Wonderful purity and precision here.

Farr Vintners, April 2010

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. This feels like it will get a lot bigger before it fully melds-and that will be awhile. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2018 through 2035.-J.M.

James Molesworth, Wine Spectator Insider (Vol 8, 3), January 2012

The nose has lots of power and is fleshed out by rich black plum and cherry. The richness of the fruit is there on the palate, sensuous, voluptuous but there is nothing jammy about the lushness as underpinning is fresh bilberry and red cherry that balances, lightens and gives the wine a seamless sleekness and elegance. Drink 2018-2045.

Derek Smedley MW, April 2010

Unusually low in Cabernet Franc because of water stress in part of the vineyard, but the sensuous Merlot more than compensates. More marked by oak than Le Pin, but also a bigger, more powerful wine. Sweet, succulent, harmonious palate with lovely acidity and a savoury note from the Cabernet Sauvignon. The aim here was to avoid a "massive wine". VCC succeeded. 20+ years

Tim Atkin MW, April 2010

Magnificent wine but atypically rich, round and powerful rather than linear and discreet (only 16% Cabernet in the blend). Enormous depth of fruit. Sweet, ripe and persistent. Voluptuous. Owner-winemaker Alexandre Thienpont compares it to the 1950 and 2000. Drink 2020-2045.

James Lawther MW, Decanter.com, April 2010
Please note that these tasting notes/scores are not intended to be exhaustive and in some cases they may not be the most recently published figures. However, we always do our best to add latest scores and reviews when these come to our attention. We advise customers who wish to purchase wines based simply on critical reviews to carry out further research into the latest reports.