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Bordeaux 2016: Guillaume Thienpont

Another take on Bordeaux 2016 today, moving on from yesterday’s ‘visit’ to St Emilion with Frédéric Faye of Château Figeac, today we have Guillaume Thienpont (pictured below) of Vieux Château Certan.

I called in on Guillaume last December, and this is what he had to say on the 2016 vintage at that time.

Me: What can you tell me about the 2016 vintage?

GT: We had a lot of rain at the start – in 2016 the early rain was equal to the entire rainfall for 2015. Then we had a huge drought from the month of June right through to the end of the growing season. So about two-and-a-half months with hardly a drop of rain. We had during that time maybe 20 millimetres, an insignificant amount.

Bordeaux 2016

Me: How did the vineyard handle that?

GT: On the young vines we lost leaves. We can’t irrigate, it is forbidden, and so for these vines – say those less than fifteen years old – it was not a good year. But the older vines, those with sufficently deep root systems, they coped well with the stress. They continued to give water and sap to the fruit. The fruit from the older vines was great.

Me: How was the harvest?

GT: The yield was good, about 42 to 43 hl/ha. And the concentration was good, probably more so than 2015. The new wines were extra colourful, a rich purple-red colour, that’s quite rare. Certainly on some plots it was better than 2015. Not on the young parcels, but the vineyard’s average age is 45 years, so we have plenty of older vines.

Me: So how do you feel now about style and quality of 2016?

GT: I am happy about it. I think we will end up with good, fresh wines, with better acidity than 2015. We are still doing the malolactics right now, although the majority have finished. The alcohol levels are around 14%. And the flavours are exotic, which is something we don’t usually find at this time. The aromas when we were devatting were remarkable. We get that at Le Pin sometimes, but not usually at Vieux Château Certan. There are even touches of pineapple and other exotic fruits.

Me: I have heard a lot of positive opinion on 2016 from all regions, left and right banks. Was any particular variety favoured in your experience?

GT: No, I am not sure there was a favoured variety or a favoured terroir. The warm and dry weather at the end of the season meant that all the varieties could reach optimum ripeness.

Me: Does it remind you of any particular vintage?

GT: I think the last time we had this experience was 1958. That was a year when the Cabernet Franc was fantastic, but the old Merlot was also great. The dry weather gave us a good vintage in 2016. That’s the way it should be every year!

Me: Thanks Guillaume.

These early Bordeaux 2016 reports are essentially funded by Winedoctor subscribers, the first purpose of this latest trip to Bordeaux having been to taste 2014s for a report on that vintage. If you find these reports interesting, please consider taking out a subscription to Winedoctor, for just £4.50 per month (or £45 per annum).

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