Vieux Château Certan
Vieux Château Certan holds a special place in my heart. It is an estate which provided me with one of those rare vinous experiences where, on very first contact with the wines, perhaps even the very first sip, you immediately fall in love. So it was with a mini-vertical tasting I attended some years ago. Sure, there were only six vintages lined up for tasting, but these were mostly good vintages, of a range of ages, some rather young, some with a decade or two of age on them.
There, in those wines, I experienced a combination of scents and flavours unlike any I had encountered in Bordeaux before. The structure of the wines was finessed, not delicate but certainly finely poised, although they did show a more velvety texture than I was accustomed to, my palate having been more extensively educated on the left bank. More importantly, however, was the complexity of flavour, with hints of black bean and black olive, not the simple fruit character found in so many wines but something more cerebral and savoury. And on top of that was the spice, the autumn leaves, pencil shavings and black tea leaves, the Cabernet Franc coming forth to show its face and counter the supple texture of its Merlot partner.
The great vintages were as impressive as I had hoped they would be, but even more telling was the quality I found in the wines from the less exalted years. These also danced across my palate like no other wine I had previously experienced. If there was anything about these wines that told me they came from a great terroir, made by the hand of a talented individual, then it was that. Vieux Château Certan immediately walked into my vinous consciousness, and correspondingly it was not long before a bottle or two was ‘walking’ into my cellar. All for the purposes of ‘research’, obviously.