Terrific Thienpont: Tasting highlights & RARE Bordeaux back vintages

Terrific Thienpont:

Tasting highlights & RARE Bordeaux back vintages

Our recent once-in-a-lifetime tastings with François Thienpont were fantastic. The Thienponts have an almost 200-year history in the wine trade and own some of the most prestigious châteaux on the Right Bank, including Vieux Château Certan, Le Pin, L’If, and Puygueraud. Tasting through wines from the family’s estates and François’ own portfolio revealed a common denominator – an honest expression of the site and vintage. While Bordeaux’s presentation may be more aristocratic than other French regions, these are all made in a simple way, with gentle handling and all natural fermentations.

Below are some of the highlights from these tastings. Among them are rare back vintages that are drinking beautifully now, but will easily age for years to come. These wines are offered at a special pre-shipment price and are set to land around October 2023. Those marked with an * are extremely limited – only 12 bottles are available.

The larger-scale development of white wines among the well-known appellations of the Right Bank is a more recent phenomenon. Among these, only the Côtes de Francs is allowed to bottle dry whites under its appellation demarcation. Puygueraud’s Blanc 2016 is exceptional! Northeast-facing limestone soils have produced a white of immense fruit purity and armour-piercing acidity, yet with beautiful weight. Most impressive, the needle hasn’t even moved in terms of development and we’re in the seventh year post vintage! Absolutely delicious and stupendous value. Stock up by the caseload.

Due to surging demand and consequent price increases, Pomerol has become too expensive for most consumers. Lalande-de-Pomerol borders Pomerol to the west and Saint-Émilion to the south. Though not atop the limestone plateau of Saint-Émilion, nor the same rich clay of Pomerol, these wines offer tremendous value compared to neighbouring appellations. L’Etoile gives everything the Right Bank should – gorgeous red fruit balanced by a chalky framework. It shows the richness of the 2018 vintage without being excessive.

Larcis Ducasse is managed by François’ brother, Nicolas, and cellar operations are attended to by David Suire of Laroque – one of our favourite Right Bank winemakers. Though not as broad-shouldered and rich as the other wines from the vintage, it possesses incredible finesse and a fine-boned structure. Already delicious, its bead of acidity will ensure it ages well for another decade in your cellar.

Jacques Thienpont, owner of the famed Le Pin in Pomerol, acquired L’If in the 2000s. Situated close to Troplong Mondot, it was a return to the family’s roots in Saint-Émilion. Cyrille Thienpont oversees operations here and no expense is spared. 2011 was their first bottling and it immediately gives the impression of great stature. There’s fantastic depth and a dense palate that’s balanced by the addition of Cabernet Franc. In short: Le Pin ambition, Saint-Émilion nature.

Vieux Château Certan is the home of the Thienponts and it’s here that grandfather Georges laid down his roots in 1924. Interesting history aside, it represents some of the finest value from Pomerol. With Petrus to the east and Le Pin less then 600m to the south, this is some of the region’s most hallowed terroir, yet VCC is a fraction of the price of these grand estates. The 2011 is a big wine – the nose shows wonderful secondary characteristics but closes down with time in the glass, indicative of its long future. Layers of fruit build complexity over time. Drink one now and keep a couple for a decade or more.

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