2018 Chateau Vieux Chateau Certan

Year: 2018
Appellation: Pomerol
Country: France
Wine Advocate: 97-100
Vinous Media: 94-97
James Suckling: 99-100
Jeb Dunnuck: 96-98--Wine Enthusiast: 98-100--Jeff Leve: 98-100
Red Wine
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"The 2018 Vieux Chateau 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.

“It was a vintage of contrasts,” began Guillaume Thienpont. “It was hard with the mildew at the beginning. There were some spots on the canopy, but fortunately the fruit was intact.”

Vieux Château Certan's Merlot was harvested September 24-26, and then they had to wait for the Cabernet Franc. “We waited and waited until early October,” Guillaume said. “Then it rained a little on October 3. It was just enough to push the vines through. We finished picking on October 10. We were one of the last to pick! But we were so happy. The tannins are like cashmere this year. This year, Cabernet Franc was not just useful—it was necessary.”

As for the winemaking: “The extraction was very soft, just like flipping a piece of meat on a grill,” Alexandre, Guillaume’s father, added with a smile." (WA)

"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." (VM)

"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." (JS)

"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." (JD)

"98–100. Barrel Sample. While the tannins give this wine a firm character, it is the perfumed, ripe Cabernet Franc that is so expressive and gives the wine its structured, complex character. Spice from the wood aging shines through, but the weight of the fruit is impressive and adds elegance. There's long aging potential for this fabulous wine." (WE)

"With a dark hue, the initial scent you'll notice is the robust floral crux before discovering the truffle, spice, cocoa, black plum, red fruit and licorice. Elegant, polished, silky, refined with a gorgeous sense of purity in the fruit, the wine has density but it also dances on tiptoe. The 2018 is a striking expression of Pomerol with a mix of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. The wine reached 14.4% alcohol with a pH of 3.78. Picking took place September 19 to October 10 and 65% of the harvest was used to produce the Grand Vin." (JL)