Vieux Chateau Certan Pomerol [Pre-arrival] 2016
WA100: The 2016 Vieux Château Certan is blended of 85% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep garnet-purple in color, it leaps from the glass with pristine, vivid notions of candied violets, chocolate-covered cherries, blackberry compote and mulberries with fragrant touches of raspberry leaves, crushed rocks, licorice, cumin seed and yeast extract plus a waft of red roses. Medium to full-bodied and beautifully elegant, the palate builds from a quiet intensity to an incredibly well-sustained aria of crunchy red and black cherries notes plus tons of floral undertones, framed by exquisitely soft yet firm tannins and seamless freshness, finishing very long with lingering mineral and floral sparks. How does this 2016 compare to the also amazing 2015 vintage? Stylistically they are very different, as my notes on each should convey, but beyond this I am struck by the incredible harmony and seamlessness of the 2016 along with its amazing depth and energy this year. Bravo!
VM100: The 2016 Vieux Château Certan is the first vintage to be entirely bottled by the estate’s own bottling machine (just in case that ever comes up in a wine quiz). Alexandre Thienpont mentioned that he assiduously left out the stressed vines, and he places this above his more hedonistic 2015. The wine takes a few minutes to open in the glass, but boy, is it worth the wait: it reveals pixelated red fruit (crushed strawberry and raspberry) and crushed stone, plus a hint of graphite emanating from the Cabernets. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, slightly chalky tannin that frames pure black and red fruit infused with graphite and almost flint-like notes. This is one of the most mineral-driven VCCs that I have encountered in over 20 years, with dizzying precision on the finish. A very intellectual Pomerol, in the realm of the profound.
JD100: Just as good, yet in a different style, the 2016 Vieux Château Certan shows cooler notes of crème de cassis, tobacco leaf, underbrush, graphite, violets, and crushed rocks. Deep, incredibly full-bodied and powerful, yet like the 2015, weightless and sensationally textured, it glides over the palate with no sensation of weight or heaviness. Expansive, deep, beautifully concentrated, and flawlessly constructed, it builds incrementally on the palate and has a finish that lasts for over a minute. It’s another legendary wine from this estate to enjoy over the coming 30-40 years.