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Bordeaux Primeurs 2013: Vieux Château Certan

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

171There is no doubt that Alexandre Thienpont at Vieux Château Certan has produced one of the purest wines in Bordeaux 2013. The wine has wonderful clarity and delicacy. There was a risk that no wine might be produced at all. The blend took time to work out and Thienpont admits to being in a fog about its composition in the early part of this year. The final blend for the grand vin represents just four barrels of wine with half a barrel reserved for topping-up.

Conditions at Vieux Château Certan were as difficult as elsewhere in Bordeaux in 2013, conditions that, meteorologically at least, were as bad as anything seen since the 1960s. The first half of the year was extremely cool and marked by considerable rainfall. With flowering affected by bad weather the result was a small potential crop that would be harvested late. July was thankfully hot and dry, though there were stormy conditions at the beginning of August.

Much work was needed in the vineyard to ensure grape ripeness before the end of the growing season, what Alexandre Thienpont describes as ‘optimizing the positive.’ The harvest was done in three passes, the first from September 30th to October 1st, then from October 3rd to 5th and a final pass on Oct 9th. Yields were extremely low at 22 hectoliters per hectare and the grand vin represents just one third of that crop. The blend is 82% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc. They have reduced the proportion of new oak this year [down to 60%].

At the time of my visit there was uncertainly as to whether the wine will be offered en primeur or at a later stage. The price? Thienpont joked [I think] about doubling it given the extremely small quantity produced. Whatever happens it’s difficult to see this emerging for anything less than the last few vintages I suspect.

Given the structure and delicacy of the wine, Thienpont thinks it should be consumed best between 6-8 years to maximise the fruit and it will probably have a lifespan of 15-20 years. It is a beautiful wine in the vintage context.

Vieux Château Certan, Pomerol, 2013

Mid depth; glossy looking, purple at edge; plums and blackcurrant fruit; spices; great purity; a real stand out aromatically; delicious palate; very nicely balanced with real delicacy; some material here but extraction held in check; very good finish and length. Like the finest Grand Cru Burgundy this. It would be my pick of the 2013 Pomerols tasted. Great clarity. Tiny quantities. [92% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 22hl/ha, TA 3.4, pH 3.65 IPT 61, 13% alc]. Drink 2018-2030. Tasted April 4, 2014 at VCC. 92-94

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