Owner: Alexandre Thienpont
Vineyard area: 14 hectares
Production: 60,000 bottles p/a
Standard blend: 75% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon
Second wine: Gravette de Certan
Vieux Chateau Certan, as its name suggests, is one of Pomerol’s oldest and most exalted estates, having produced wine since at least the mid 1740s. On the Belleyme Map, published in 1785, the property was listed as “Sertan” and was owned by the Demays, a family of established Bordeaux negociants. A century later, ownership passed to a banker, Charles de Bousquet, who sold it to George Thienpont in 1924.
Though Thienpont may initially have been more enamoured with his first love, Troplong Mondot, he was forced to relinquish it for financial reasons. He and his son Leon then turned their full attention to Vieux Chateau Certan. Their energy and investment in the estate was reflected in the renewed profundity of the wines. And though the tide went out in the 1970s and ’80s, quailty levels have risen again in recent times under the auspices of Leon’s son, Alexandre.
The 2010 vintage
The latest offering from Vieux Chateau Certan is 86 per cent Merlot, eight per cent Cabernet Franc and six per cent Cabernet Sauvignon. Despite heady alcohol levels (14.5 per cent), the wine achieved both praise and perfection, with James Suckling awarding it 100 points and comparing it to the “legendary 1947 or 1945”. Jancis Robinson and James Molesworth (of the Wine Spectator) admired the 2010’s brawn and balance and assigned it 18.5 and 96-99 points respectively, with the latter dubbing it “one of the stars of the appellation”.
With the critics firmly on its side, Vieux Chateau Certan sits comfortably amongst the top wines of 2010. According to the Liv-ex Total Score – the mean average score of all of the critics surveyed – the label is the sixth most highly ranked wine of the vintage.
Though the wine went down well with the critics, opening prices were more difficult to swallow. The 2010 was released at €180 per bottle ex-negociant, 15 per cent higher than the 2009. Shortly after its release, the vintage traded on Liv-ex at £2,000 per case, making it more expensive (on the secondary market) than any other recent vintage. And though it traded once more at £2,175 per case, low volumes indicate that the chateau is pushing the very limit of what the market is prepared to pay.
Like Petrus and Cheval Blanc, Vieux Chateau Certan seems to be going places. Since the start of the year, vintages 1999-2008 have increased in value by an average of more than 15 per cent. High-scoring years have seen some of the most rapid price acceleration, with the 2000 rising in value by 42 per cent year to date and the 2005 posting returns of 25 per cent. Still, the majority of physical vintages remain significantly cheaper than those in barrel.
The chart below shows the Wine Spectator scores and current prices of the last ten physical vintages, along with those for the 2009 and the 2010. With the 2000 (WS 95) now trading at £1,600 per case, the 2001 (WS 94) looks remarkably cheap at £940, as does the 2004 (WS 94) at £780. Liv-ex trading members can view live markets here.
Image courtesy of Thewinecellarinsider.com.