Vieux Château Certan 2018


Alexandre Thienpont has been making sensational VCCs for several years from the venerable old vines of this exceptionally well situated vineyard. The oldest Merlots were planted in 1932 and the oldest Cabernet Francs in 1948. This is one of the great properties of Pomerol and it normally has a high (for the appellation) percentage of Cabernet in the blend. 65% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon in the vineyard. The 2018 was harvested from September 19th to October 9th and had a yield of 40 hl/ha. The blend this year is 70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc with the Cabernet Sauvignon excluded. Alexandre is clearly very proud of this wine and thinks that it is close in quality to the 2016 which he believes to be the best VCC ever made.

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Tasting Notes

The 2018 Vieux Château Certan was picked from 19 September on the younger blocks, the heart of the crop picked around 24 and 25 September, finishing on 9 October at 40hL/ha. It has a very pure and charming bouquet with dark cherries, bilberry, hints of cassis and pressed violet aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with very pure fruit. This is classic VCC with that Cabernet Sauvignon imparting subtle pencil lead notes. The oak is nicely integrated, with a silky smooth finish. Alexander Thienpont mentioned that this is tasting much better than at en primeur. Outstanding. 2025 - 2055

Score: 95/97Neal Martin,, November 2019

The 2018 Vieux Château Certan is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. Yields were 40 hectoliters per hectare. The wine has a pH of 3.78, 14.4% alcohol and an IPT (total polyphenol index) of 77. Medium to deep garnet-purple—it has a very vibrant color—it drifts effortlessly out of the glass with wonderfully intense, beautifully delineated scents of red roses, black raspberries, kirsch and Darjeeling tea before the powerful, profound black fruits kick in: baked plums, wild blueberries, molten licorice and mulberries with touches of cigar box, cinnamon stick, tapenade and truffles. Full-bodied, rich, densely packed and revealing layer upon layer of red and black fruits with an incredible array of floral and spicy sparks, it has a high level of super ripe, incredibly fine, velvety soft tannins and fantastic freshness (not just from acid but from bright, crunchy fruit). It finishes very long, marvelously layered and with such jaw-dropping brightness from the fruit, the end is almost electric. Incredible.

Score: 97/100Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate (April 2019), April 2019

This is a significant VCC with masses of fruit and juicy tannins. It’s fresh, but impresses you with the rich and powerful fruit. A tower of a wine. Incredible depth and density. Thick and muscular. It is 30 per cent cabernet franc, the rest merlot.

Score: 99/100James Suckling,, April 2019

The 2018 Vieux Château Certan is a very pretty wine built more on elegance, finesse and aromatic nuance. Relative to the recent past, the 2018 shows a much more mid-weight structure and less of the creaminess of either 2015 or 2016. Much of that is attributable to a blend that includes 30% Cabernet Franc. Lavender, rose petal, mint and blueberry fruit all grace the 2018. Far from an obvious wine, the 2018 is going to need a number of years to be at its best, as it is a wine of total understatement and class. Fine beads of tannin support the understated finish. In 2018, VCC is a wine of refinement and subtlety more than anything else. I don't see the same visceral thrill as in a number of vintages of the recent past. Perhaps that will come in bottle.

Score: 94/97Antonio Galloni,, May 2019

70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 40 hl/ha. pH 3.78. Barrel sample.
Darkest cherry red. Dark fruited and quite mineral on the nose, but fragrant with that dark, subtle fruit. Lively and with a dash of herbs for complexity. At the moment this is rather sober on the palate. That Cabernet freshness is there and bringing great finesse to the tannins. Opens up to more dark and subtle fragrance. Really refined and beautifully dry and elegant. Very long, very tender in texture even if there's a charge of tannins hiding underneath. There is a subtle beauty. I need half an hour with this wine not five minutes because it unfurls on the palate. This is already a great wine but it is going to be a very great wine. Alexandre Thienpont describes it as cashmere but I think of it as the finest of cotton sheets, ironed smooth, with very high thread count. (JH) 14.4%
Drink 2028-2048

Score: 18.5Julia Harding MW,, April 2019

Vivid purple colour in the glass with an expressive and expansive nose of violets, cherries and plums. The aromas are cool, flinty, somehow both sweet and savoury, and very enticing. The palate is creamy with vanilla, toast and pure cassis. This has real sophistication due to the cool ripeness of fruit and reginement of tannin that gives a cahmere texture and superb poise. Despite the elegance there is great intensity, giving an almost ethereal weightless power on the finish. Effortlessly impressive and very pure. Certianly a contender for wine of the vintage, in a style that sets it apart.

Score: 18.5+Farr Vintners, Farr Tasting, April 2019

Liquid violets, cassis, blueberries, and beautiful floral notes all emerge from the 2018 Vieux Château Certan, which is deep, profound, and layered on the palate, with ultra-fine tannins. Full-bodied, with thrilling purity, it builds on the palate, with beautiful tannins, and notable freshness. It's showing its Cabernet Franc component today, with beautiful purity, elegance, and balance, as well as tons of structure. The 2018 is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc that hit 14.4% natural alcohol with an IPT of 77 and a pH of 3.78. It’s another brilliant wine from Thienpont family that’s going to evolve for decades.

Score: 96/98Jeb Dunnuck,, May 2019

This is complex, precise and concentrated but tempered with stunning potential. There is so much flavour and juice here with crushed tobacco and liquorice root alongside richly textured raspberry and blueberry fruits - all extremely well balanced and yet reaching down into the depths promising great ageing.

A VCC that is full of layers, with the beauty of this vintage making them all relatively discernible even at this early stage because the tannins are not balled together but allow the light in between.

An excellent year for Cabernet Franc, which always favours this estate - owner Alexandre Thienpont said that they weren’t just useful but essential this year, giving freshness and focus to the hedonism of the Merlots, and dampening down the alcohols. No press wine in the blend as yet, and not sure if they will use it. A yield of 40hl/ha.
98-100 points.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2044

Score: 98/100Jane Anson,, April 2019

(70 Merlot, 30 Cabernet Franc) | 70% new oak and 30% one-year-old oak | 14.4% alc (the Merlot was 15% and the Cabernet Franc was 13.5%) | 40 hl/ha | 77 IPT In spite of the tropical spring and dry summer they were not affected by mildew at VCC. Alexandre and his son Guillaume Thienpont anticipated the rhythm of the downy mildew and tackled it perfectly. They had the same sort of attack in 2000 and they survived this, too. The summer was not excessively warm at VCC and they had cool nights which is superb for Cabernet Franc and this offset the power and intensity of the Merlot. ‘Cashmere’ was Alexandre’s expression for the texture of his wine and this is better than any word I can come up with, so it will do. Unlike many of the other Pomerols, this wine leads with red fruit. The oldest vines in this wine were planted in 1932 and this goes some way to explaining the superb intensity on display. It is said that you cannot smell texture, but this wine smells incredibly silky. The nose shows exquisite complexity and on the palate there is considerable volume and length. The finish is crisp, tart and dry and it pinches the palate and this further alerts the senses. The layers of red fruit are positively kaleidoscopic flavours and with the never-ending finish the overall feeling is of a densely flavoured wine but one with a medium-bodied framework and this sleight of hand is thrilling. I wish I could have tasted this wine every day such was its appeal. It is yet another ridiculously brilliant wine from this magnificent estate.

Score: 19.5+Matthew Jukes,, April 2019

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.