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Vieux Château Certan 2017

Subregion France > Bordeaux > Right Bank > Pomerol
Grape VarietyMerlot/Cabernet Franc

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.

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Tasting Notes

The purity and complexity is so mesmerizing for 2017. Raspberries and black fruit with sweet-tobacco and blood-orange undertones. Medium to full body. The tannins are so polished and pure and push out the edges on the wine. Fresh and pretty. Deep. Needs two or three years to perfect it. Try after 2023.

James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com, January 2020

"Gothic wine" was the comment of Alexandre Thienpont on the 2017 vintage of Vieux Chateau Certan. The blend this year is 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and the color is deep garnet-purple. It needs a lot of shaking to wake up notes of Morello cherries, black raspberries, tar, and licorice, with emerging scents of plum preserves, black truffles, and crushed rocks, plus a hint of candied violets. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is tightly knit with loads of densely wound layers and fantastic freshness, supported by very fine-grained tannins, finishing long and mineral-laced. It should be very long lived!

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Independent, December 2022

The 2017 Vieux Château Certan was bottled at the end of May. It has a perfumed, slightly tertiary bouquet with blackberry, wild heather and just a touch of menthol. The palate is medium-bodied with fleshy ripe tannins on the entry, mainly dark black fruit, rather introverted at the moment that just needs bottle age to show what it can be. Veins of dark chocolate towards the finish, I appreciate the structure of this VCC and the freshness it shows towards the overtly saline, Japanese nori tinged finish. Alexandre and Guillaume Thienpont have overseen a very assured and captivating Pomerol that will age gracefully over many years. Drink 2024-2050.

Neal Martin, vinous.com, February 2020

Tasted blind. Deep ruby colour. Dried cherry and leathery spice on the nose here. Kirsch. Full bodied but keeping some restraint. Powerful – smoky, rich – and yet highly refined. Underneath this sweetness are cooler hedgerow, graphite and cedar tones. Mouth-coating, chewy tannins provide a deep and dense structure. This is earthy but has really good drive. Long and expansive.
Drink 2026 – 2040

Thomas Parker MW, JancisRobinson.com, October 2021

Extremely bright, dark fruit aromas are joined by hints of gooseberry and redcurrant in the mouth, but a deeper, richer cassis comes through on the mid-palate. The high level of acidity emphasises a floral note, yet this has an austerity that is more pronounced than in recent vintages, which should settle in over time. This is a fairly concentrated vintage at VCC, more than at many properties, and was their fifth earliest harvest in the past 20 years, similar to 2011 in terms of dates, although this time it was in three stages, from 12 September to 2 October. This is different in profile to the 2016, with more Cabernet Sauvignon (planted in 2012). It's an elegant style with pure fruit; an extremely focussed and linear wine that's far from exuberant. No frost here, so a final yield of 37hl/ha. 3.75pH. IPT 73.
Drinking Window 2025 - 2038

Jane Anson, Decanter.com, April 2018

Deepest crimson with black core. Not much aroma at first because the sample is cool. Rich, firm, dark and more savoury than usual, darker-fruited. Great freshness. Has impressive depth without weight. Very fine shape, great refinement even now. Feels like it is coiled tightly for the future. Dark beauty with just a very slight char on the finish and a long graphite aftertaste. Cool nights kept the freshness.
Drink 2027-2047

Julia Harding MW, JancisRobinson.com, April 2018

Deep ruby with an unctuous, opulent, exotic nose of black cherry and sweet plums. The palate is extremely refined, with supple, silky tannins gently framing creamy vanilla from new oak. Through the mid palate the fruit drives through the spiciness, giving a pure note of cassis and graphite. This continues through to a long finish, which is accented with exotic spices and a little toasty wood.

Farr Vintners, April 2018

Possibly the wine of the vintage, the 2017 Vieux Chateau Certan is a blend of 81% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon from the highest point on the Pomerol plateau. Deep purple, with a heavenly bouquet of creme de cassis, blueberries, scorched earth, crushed violets, tobacco, and earth, this beauty is full-bodied, has incredible depth of fruit, ripe, present tannins, integrated acidity, and a great finish. This estate has been on fire of late, and this is undoubtedly a worthy follow-on to the otherworldly 2015 and 2016. It has the depth of fruit and texture to offer pleasure even today, yet a solid 7-8 years of cellaring are warranted, and it should be long-lived. Bravo!

Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com, February 2020

The fruit on the nose is fragrant and fresh smoky the palate has mid generosity rich ripe black plums supple sumptuous. Brighter at the back some fresh black fruits the finish has depth sweet rich ripe fruit. 2026-37

Derek Smedley MW, DerekSmedleyMW.co.uk, April 2018

They started harvesting in mid-September and then they waited a week and picked the ‘important stuff’ from 25th September until the 2nd October. This was important to get the tannins right in the skins. This is a much fresher, cleaner and less opulent wine than the last two vintages and Guillaume Thienpont describes it as an ‘intellectual’ vintage. The nose is incredibly bright with very direct black cherry notes and some mineral, stony tones, too. The previous few vintages have been later-harvested but this wine retains the freshness. This wine is born of a dry summer and they luckily escaped the frosts by half a degree. Apparently, 300ha in Pomerol were ‘frozen’. Their situation on the dome of Pomerol helped them. According to Alexandre Thienpont, ‘finesse means weak in English’, so he doesn’t use this word about the 2017 vintage. He prefers the word ‘classic’. The perfume is amazing and the silkiness and tenderness is evident. While the wine is not a heavyweight the colour is intense and this is thanks to particularly small berries. The old vines (in both varieties) and accuracy of work in the vineyards helped amazingly. The young vines had decent yields and the second wine is a success, too (80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc). Two thirds of the yield went into the Grand Vin. The brightness of fruit is the overriding theme here and there is a gloss and freshness ratio which makes this a vitally compelling wine. ‘Academic’ was the last word I heard when I walked out of the cellar. They must have been talking about me!

Matthew Jukes, Matthew Jukes' Blog, April 2018
Read more tasting notes...

Composed of 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2017 Vieux Château Certan sports a deep garnet-purple color. No mincing about, the bouquet absolutely prances out of the glass with stunning scents of candied violets, chocolate-covered cherries, roses and eucalyptus over a core of black plum preserves, mulberries, black raspberries and blueberry pie plus wafts of licorice, iron ore and truffles. Medium to full-bodied, the palate has fantastic balance and expression, with very fine-grained, silt-like tannins and well-knit freshness, finishing with epic length and perfume. 2023 - 2063

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate (March 2020), March 2020

The 2017 Vieux Château Certan was picked in three passages through the vineyard, 12 and 13 September, 18 and 19 September and finally 25 September to 2 October. The yields are 37hl/ha with 14.2° alcohol and a 3.75 pH. It is the first vintage to contain Cabernet Sauvignon for several years. It has a very pure, Merlot-driven bouquet with black cherries, redcurrant and wild strawberry scents, just a hint of iris and incense in the background. The 70% new oak is nicely integrated here. The palate is medium-bodied with edgy tannin, a deep well of black and red fruit interwoven with allspice, truffle, white pepper and a little sage. This Vieux Château Certan manifests more complexity and profundity as it aerates, delivering genuine, spine-tingling mineralité on the persistent finish. It gains even more precision when I return to the property to re-taste it again. Tasted twice, ten days apart at the property. Drink 2023-2050.

Neal Martin, vinous.com, May 2018

This is a dense and compact center palate with a solid and pointed intensity. Full body, firm and silky tannins and an energetic finish. Complete. Harmonious.

James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com, April 2018

Composed of 81% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Vieux Château Certan gives up gorgeous black raspberries, crushed black currants and warm black berries on the nose with chocolate-covered cherries, violets and star anise suggestions plus black truffles and wood smoke. The palate is medium to full-bodied with wonderful concentration in the mid-palate and firm, very finely pixelated tannins, with seamless freshness and fantastic length.

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate (236), April 2018

The 2017 is, however, made from 81% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Picked from September 12th until October 2nd. Alexandre says that this was a normal harvest with a yield of 37 hl/ha and a vintage of "ripeness and tension" that he describes as a hypothetical blend of the 2014 and 2015.

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.