I’ll Drink to That: Alexandre and François Thienpont of Vieux Château Certan

Episode 350 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently. It features Alexandre Thienpont of Vieux Château Certan in Pomerol, as well as his cousin François Thienpont of the wine trading firm Wings.

Alexandre Thienpont is clearly someone who has thought closely about every aspect of his method, trying to refine every process, to tighten every screw along the way. This has been his mindset for decades now, having taken charge of Vieux Château Certan in 1985 with the explicit desire to make the wine better than the previous generations had. Alexandre has followed that desire with a drive that has led him to fly over his vineyards in planes to search out vegetation patterns, to divide harvest priorities on the basis of GPS data, and to carefully declassify a large portion of what was already a small production to begin with. The result of Alexandre’s experience today is that he is someone who will rather readily supply a wholly profound answer to a fairly straightforward question. Cabernet Sauvignon? It is a dull tasting grape in the vineyard, but rather it is the fermentation that brings it to life, says Alexandre. A lot of green on the vine? Likely the wine will be coarse, he concludes. The thickness of a wine? Very much determined by the length of the fermentation, he says. This is someone who, over long experience and observation, has derived some key beliefs. What a pleasure then to listen in on a master craftsman as he shares what he has learned after several decades working with one of Bordeaux’s greatest terroirs. This is a treat, and it is a guarantee that you will be thinking a bit differently about a process you thought you knew well after you listen to episode 350.

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I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @levi_opens_wine