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Our Current Second Label Review
La Gravette de Certan 2007
Retail Price: $41
Second Label of Vieux Chateau Certan
Retail Price of Vieux Chateau Certan: $132
After a bit of a hiatus, we are back with a proper second label Bordeaux, the Merlot-based La Gravette de Certan, the second wine of Vieux Chateau Certan in Pomerol. This is a classic, well made Bordeaux. On the nose you’ll find some dark fruit like currant, blackberry and plum in addition to fresh mushrooms, cloves and star anise. There is also a hint of dustiness and pencil shavings. The tannins are smooth and well integrated, and it has a long finish that keeps on giving. This is a good value wine.
The 2007 La Gravette de Certan can be found online at Specsonline.com. In the Austin area, look for it at Specs but you can also order it through their website and have it delivered to your door.
Food Pairing Suggestions:
This is a fantastic food wine for medium bodied meats like lamb or pork chops. Avoid a heavy hand when seasoning the meat, and don’t use a heavy a meat. This is not a steak and potatoes kind of wine. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, this could also be a great wine with Turkey if you’re looking for something a little different than a Pinot Noir this year.
About Vieux Chateau Certan:
Vieux Château Certan is one of the oldest Bordeaux wine properties in Pomerol. The estate’s history dates all the way back to the mid 1700′s when it was founded by Jean Demay de Certan. The original chateau was constructed closer to 1770. The Demay’s were well known for their work in the Bordeaux wine trade. They were successful negociants and wine merchants. The wines of what we know today as Vieux Chateau Certan were originally sold under the name of Sertan. The vineyards of Vieux Chateau Certan were much larger in their formative years. The land was split and divided after the French Revolution and again through sales transactions that gave birth to Certan de May and various other estates that continue using the name Certan in their title.
In 1924, everything changed for the right bank estate of Vieux Chateau Certan when it was sold to the popular Belgian Bordeaux wine merchant, Georges Thienpont. Many successful wine merchants and negociants have owned various chateaux at one time or another. In fact, Georges Theinpont was already a successful land owner in St. Emilion. He was also the owner of Chateau Troplong Mondot. But Vieux Chateau Certan was a special case, as the relationship to Georges Thienpont was important for the wines success and image in the market place.
Thienpont wanted to know which of his client’s were buying Vieux Chateau Certan. But he needed to be discreet about it. That gave him the idea of placing the now famous pink capsule on the bottles of Vieux Chateau Certan. The capsule stood out in collectors’ cellars making it easy for Thienpont to see if his clients were purchasing his wine without having to ask them. Plus, pink was the color of the moment for Parisian designers, making the look of the bottle quite chic. That was a very savvy marketing move. However, his decision to sell most of the wine from Vieux Chateau Certan through his own Belgian negociant company did not allow Vieux Chateau Certan the international exposure it required or deserved. That did not change for decades. It was not until until some point in the 1980′s that Vieux Chateau Certan was available as a future, selling en primeur on the Place de Bordeaux with the other top wines. While the decade of the 1920′s produced some strong wines for Vieux Chateau Certan, the 1930′s were not so kind. Due to the blend of the depression coupled with poor weather, Vieux Chateau Certan did not even produce wine in 1931, 1932 and 1933. Those difficult years forced him to sell Chateau Troplong Mondot.
The following decade was much kinder as the wines produced by Vieux Chateau Certan in 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1950 were all legendary vintages! Following the death of Georges Thienpont in 1962, the estate was managed by other members of the family until the taciturn, thoughtful, Alexandre Thienpont took control of Vieux Chateau Certan in time for the 1986 vintage. Since Alexandre Thienpont began managing Vieux Chateau Certan, he renovated the wine making facilities in 1988 and again modernized the traditional Pomerol estate in 2003. It was his decision to create a second wine, La Gravette de Certan. He began green harvesting, picking riper fruit and reducing yields as a regular part of their vineyard management techniques. All his efforts proved to be correct as the wines of Vieux Chateau Certan have never been better! The reputation of Vieux Chateau Certan today places it among the very, best wines in the Pomerol appellation.
- From the Wine Cellar Insider
Pomerol is the smallest of the major fine wine regions in Bordeaux, covering an area that is roughly three kilometers wide by 4 kilometers long. It is roughly one-seventh of the size of its much larger Right Bank neighbor Saint-Émilion AOC and is on par with the smallest Left Bank commune of Saint-Julien AOC in the Médoc. In 1998, there were 784 hectares of grape vines planted within the AOC boundaries producing 400,733 cases of wine. In 2003 there were 150 declared producers in Pomerol harvesting 780 ha and producing a year average of 358,333 cases of wine. Almost all the wine is estate-bottled. While many Pomerol wines now fetch very high prices at wine auctions and in the private market on a par with the most highly rated classified growths of Bordeaux, there is no official classification of Pomerol wine. The wines of Pomerol are predominately from Merlot with Cabernet Franc playing a supporting role.
From the winter until the first signs of summer the weather pattern in 2007 was one of very mild temperatures and moderate rainfall. These weather conditions helped bring about an early bud-break in the vines in March and an even, homogeneous flowering at the end of May. After lovely sunny weather in the month of June, July and August were particularly cool and rainy. Fortunately, the pattern of very fine weather which set in from September 9th enabled the grapes to catch up on lost time and reach optimum levels of ripeness in ideal weather conditions. The Merlot and two Cabernets were harvested between September 17th and 29th.
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Our Rating System & Wine Selection
The most important thing you need to know about our rating system is that we don’t have one. Drinking wine is very subjective and is based on your personal taste and experiences, so things like “90 points” mean something different to everyone. Rather than assigning an arbitrary score to the wines we review, we’re going to tell you a bit about the origin of the wine, its predominant characteristics, ideas for food pairings and our personal opinions of it. We hope that you will share your opinions with us as well.
For the purposes of this website, we will use fairly loose criteria to determine what a second label wine is. In addition to the proper second wines of Bordeaux, we will include declassified wines and wines made by respected producers that are sourced from less prestigious vineyards than their big brothers. We are more concerned with finding great value wine than we are in sticking to a rigid definition of second label, so if you know of a great second label out there that we should review, drop us a line.