The 2016 Bordeaux En Primeur campaign draws to a close with the release of one of the highlights of the vintage, 2016 VCC, at £1,182 per 6 IB. It is quite a feat to have raised the bar higher than the wonderful 2015 but Alexandre Thienpont has achieved it.
The small plateau of Pomerol is undoubtedly a success story in 2016; the clay-rich soils and old, deep-rooted vines helping to mitigate against the prolonged drought that characterised the second half of the growing season. With a surehandedness born of years of experience, the harvest was pushed back as far as possible. The final pass was on 18th October, allowing the vines to benefit from a reinvigorating rain shower and ensure the fruit was picked in optimum condition.
This captivating wine is testament to Alexandre’s profound knowledge of his vines and skill as a winemaker, that the 2016 is one of the all-time greats from this enchanting estate and equally charming proprietor. A wine we thoroughly recommend.
Vieux Château Certan Pomerol 2016
£1,182.00 per 6 bottles IB
85% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. Alexandre Thienpont explained how they were “saved by the rain” in September. Some vines were nevertheless affected by drought (around 8%), but these were carefully marked and discarded before picking. Further layers of sorting were carried out before the fruit reached tank, and the result is a rich wine with a gorgeous density, with no hint of raisined fruit. Sophisticated oak spice is built around elegant, luxurious fruit with a smoky, herbal lift from the Cabernet Franc. Their diligence has paid off. Drink 2024-2035. 97-98 points, Goedhuis & Co
It has a very refined bouquet with blackberry, briary and morello cherries that are tightly wound at first, but open gradually with aeration. The Merlot is fully in control aromatically; this is not a VCC governed by the Cabernet Franc this year, consistent with the 2016 vintage. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grain tannin. There is plenty of dark berry fruit laced with hints of earl grey and bay leaf, a complex and cerebral Pomerol with a long, precise and (to put it banally) delicious finish. This is another outstanding wine from Alexandre and Guillaume Thienpont. Drink Date 2022 – 2060. 95-97 points, Neal Martin
85% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. Sumptuous nose. Great lift. Real race and dancing stuff. Good structure and line. Nothing sweet or fleshy about this but lovely ripeness and nobility. Amazing persistence and elegance in claret mode. Drink 2025-2045. 19 points, Jancis Robinson
The balance and finesse to this wine are really beautiful with ultra-fine tannins and beautiful fruit. It’s full and structured yet so long and intense. It’s a wine that seduces you with every sip – already. Great selection here. Quite simply turbocharged at the end. 98-99 points, James Suckling
The 2016 Vieux Château Certan is a wine of extraordinary beauty. Rich, seamless and voluptuous in the glass, it exudes sensuality in all of its dimensions. Tasted as a hypothetical blend, the 2016 is less expressive than the separate lots were when I tasted them a few months ago. A rush of dark cherry, inky blue/purplish fruit, crushed rocks, lavender and rose petal infuses the creamy, voluptuous finish. The 2016 manages to be dense and rich, but with no excess weight. It is quite simply a remarkable wine. 97-100 points, Antonio Galloni
This is a very powerful vintage with more muscle and strength than usual and yet there is some superb freshness and lift which helps it enormously. ‘It was easy to make a massive wine, but we had to make a balanced wine, too’, said Guillaume. The stronger notes do not only come out in the power but also in the intensity of cherry fruit making this an epic wine which is more immediately expressive and urgent than the laid-back Pétrus. It will be one of the most longest lived vintages ever. Guillaume’s father, Jacques Thienpont, said, ‘come back in fifteen years’ for another tasting of this wine at the start of its life! Jacques thought that precision is the reason for his property’s continued improvement year in year out. They have gone from selecting by plot to selecting by vine using GPS etc. The other lovely expression that I noted down during our tasting was that this wine was saved by two rains, making it ‘winemaking on a razor blade’! In order to underline just how dry it was prior to the September rain, the grapes that were set aside from the drought affected vines were so shrivelled that Jacques described them as, ‘like 2003 or ‘Cretan’ wine!’. Joking aside, this is one of the most remarkable wines that I have tasted from this property. 19.5+ points, Matthew Jukes