2012 Vieux Chateau Certan Alexandre Thienpont Interview on the Vintage



Jeff Leve I’ve been hearing good things about 2012 Pomerol. Currently, what are your thoughts on the 2012 Vieux Chateau Certan?

Alexandre Thienpont “Keep in mind, we are still not finished with the malolactic fermentation, but at this point, the 2012 Vieux Chateau Certan vintage reminds us of a blend between 2005 and 2006.”

Jeff Leve Will 2012 Vieux Chateau Certan be a Merlot year, or what you refer to as a Bordeaux vintage with a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot?

Alexandre Thienpont “It’s too early to give a precise word about the blend. But it will probably be a Merlot and  Cabernet Franc vintage. We have two stunning batches of Cabernet Franc this vintage which are likely to be in the first wine.”

Jeff Leve What took place in Pomerol this year that allowed this to happen?

Alexandre Thienpont “Yes, with 2012, we are back to Bordeaux.  The Cabernet Franc didn’t suffer from an excess of heat, or drought, so it will be part of the 2012 Vieux Chateau Certan blend.”

Jeff Leve What was the most difficult or stressful part of the growing season for 2012 Vieux Chateau Certan?

Alexandre Thienpont “The year started out like 2000. Both vintages began with a big dawny mildew pressure.”

Jeff Leve What special vineyard techniques do you need to do when the flowering is uneven, as it was this year?

Alexandre Thienpont “We have been even more precise during the green harvest this year. When we were at mid véraison, we did a green harvest to remove the late bunches.”

Jeff Leve Compared to 2011, did you need to spend more or less time on sorting your Right Bank estate in this vintage?

Alexandre Thienpont “For 2012 Vieux Chateau Certan, we sorted more this year, than last year.  In total, we sorted three times. We did a hard sorting on bunches. Then we did a mechanical sorting and a final sorting of the berries by hand in the cellar.”

Jeff Leve Did you also use photographic imagery to help with the sorting at your Right Bank estate?

Alexandre Thienpont “To be even more accurate than usual in the selection process, we looked at the results from aerial pictures of the vineyard before picking.”

Jeff Leve You mentioned using aerial photography for sorting. Is this the first time yow did this help?

Alexandre Thienpont “We did our own aerial photography by plane. This helped us because it lets us precisely locate the vigorous areas in each block that were picked during harvest.”

Jeff Leve With that much sorting, what do you expect your yields to be for the 2012 Vieux Chateau Certan?

Alexandre Thienpont “We are close to 34 hectoliters per hectare.”

Jeff Leve How did the drought affect you?

Alexandre Thienpont “The drought was necessary to help us obtain a good fruit quality.”

Jeff Leve When did you start harvesting the 2012 Vieux Chateau Certan?

Alexandre Theinpont “We started to harvest the Merlot October 1 and finished the Cabernet Franc October 11. We were lucky because the conditions remained excellent during the harvest.”

Jeff Leve Due to the quick change in the October weather, did you finish picking earlier than anticipated?

Alexandre Thienpont “No. Everything was able to ripene to its optimum level. We were able to pick before the heavy rains.”

Jeff Leve How many pickers did you employ to work in your Pomerol vineyards?

Alexandre Thienpont “At Vieux Chateau Certan, we hire 30 workers to help with the harvest.”

Jeff Leve Is it a problem for you when a vintage like 2012 Vieux Chateau Certan is this late?

Alexandre Thienpont “Not really. Today, with the technology we have in Bordeaux, it is no longer an issue to pick late.”

Jeff Leve Did you purchase any new equipment or renovate your wine making facilities at Vieux Chateau Certan this year?

Alexandre Thienpont “We finally purchased a mechanical strainer to help with sorting. We spent two years testing the product first. We also obtained a new fan for the décuvage”.

Jeff Leve How does the new mechanical strainer work?

Alexandre Thienpont “It is a rolling belt with many holes of the average size of the berries, everything which doesn’t go through is separated.  This helps remove more of the stems that often remain on the berries after they go through the destemmer.” 

Jeff Leve What are your alcohol levels?

Alexandre Thienpont “We are on average at 13.8%.”

Jeff Leve For your 2012 Vieux Chateau Certan, what are you doing during vinification and the elevage?

Alexandre Thienpont “We using less new oak to age the wines and we’re being careful to obtain a gentle extraction.”


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