Vieux Chateau Certan 1998

Last night I opened the 1998 VCC. I had not tasted this for some months, ever since I had it blind and was so enthralled I went out and bought a case. This was the first bottle. Decanted two hours before, it still took a couple of hours more to unfurl completely. A magnificent wine in early maturity. Fruit, minerality, violets, and two thirds in, that burst of fruit so characteristic of great vintages of VCC, all held by a massive but soft tannin structure. The finish was extremely long, waves of flavor coming at me for a full minute. I am being conservative with my score, but I do urge you, if you can find it, to grab it.


Grabbed some in Hong Kong.

This VCC 1998 (18/20) was great in a VCC verticale in december 2008. A wine was, in the same context, even more better : the stunning VCC 1989 (19/20).

Bad influence, I picked up a case today.

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You will thank yourself, soon enough.

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every time I open a '98 right bank, I find myself wanting more and more of them for my cellar . . .

I’m 1/3rd of the way through the '98 VCC case I bought 5 years ago and already starting to wish I had more!!


So, based off the stellar reviews here I picked up a bottle of this and a pre-Valentines’ dinner at home with my wife seemed like the perfect opportunity to check in on this. Note - we have pretty extensive left-bank bordeaux experience, and a lot of experience with younger/more affordable right bankers, but this is to my memory easily the most “high-end” expression of mature Pomerol we have tried.

My bottle was in absolutely pristine condition - cork looked almost suspiciously good, Decanted for 3 hours before really digging into but tasted along the way - honestly should have decanted longer.

All of your notes resonate with me - this is a behemoth of a wine, the nose was absolutely intoxicating - as good as it gets for a wine aroma for me, it had everything, deep, dark red to black fruits perfectly ripe, deep earth, rotating coffee, chocolate, mushroom/truffle aromas, and an ever increasing cooling freshness from a slight mint-inflected pyrazine note.

I did not enjoy the taste as much as the nose unfortunately. While it was structured still and definitely not hot/overripe, the intensity of the wine on the palate was almost overwhelming and yet still felt like it was tucked inwards, so much material there but it wasn’t completely showing off yet. I unfortunately paired it with a pretty rich dinner and so there was no relief going back and forth between the food and the wine.

Did continue to improve after dinner and continued to relax, lightening up and showing off purple flowers and more fresh red cherry notes.

I am conflicted in the end because I’m not sure what my final takeaway is. I really don’t feel like the wine is clumsy, there is so much there that is still well-contained in the wine’s structure. For my palate I would say a strong HOLD for well-stored bottles of this, I don’t think it’s close to it’s peak. Or maybe we just aren’t right bank people.

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I’m betting you would like the 98 Magdelaine based on what you just wrote. It has that same killer nose but is more deft on its feet, more red fruit acids. Had them both side-by-side recently. Both killer wines. Down to my last 2, ugh!

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What a great review and thank you for posting. I love the “tucked in” description; I found that with the 2005 recently. I thought of it as yet to unfurl.

The 1998 VCC is backward, not as much as Trotanoy, Cheval and Lafleur. I suspect there is some evolution variability as my last bottle while backward seemed to have “unfurled” a lot. Maybe try again in five years.

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Thanks - haven’t had a Magdelaine yet and will have to check them out!

@MChang brought the 98 VCC to Charleston back in Nov. It was marvelous, with many years ahead.