Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou
|Listed Wines||Ducru Beaucaillou|
|Annual Production (Grand Vin)||9,000-11,000 cases|
|Classification||Deuxième Crus (Second-Growths)|
|Second Wine||La Croix de Beaucaillou|
|Interesting Fact||The château’s name derives from “beautiful stones” reflecting the unique terroir, a mix of gravel and limestone peppered with large eye-catching fragments of shining quartz and slate in the topsoil.|
The Borie family have strong wine credentials, also owning châteaux Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Haut-Batailly. They also possess considerable business acumen, with smart, forward-thinking branding strategies that have seen Ducru Beaucaillou’s rock and roll credentials boosted by a wonderfully ornate bespoke design by Jade Jagger for the label and casing of its 2010 prestige cuvée Croix de Beaucaillou, a special holiday edition of its second wine. The strategy proved to be a particularly astute one- a Melchior of the vintage raised more than €10,000 at auction in China, an extraordinary achievement and one which highlights why the Borie family have been loath to categorise it as a ‘second wine’.
In terms of the Grand Vin and of the Ducru Beaucaillou brand in general, it is considered a Super-Second and critics have argued that in the event of a reclassification, the château would likely be promoted to a Premier Cru. The estate’s reputation is rising and maintaining a 25th place spot on the Liv-Ex power 100 2017 with the influx of Burgundy and New New World wines, speaks volumes.
Ducru Beaucaillou is today a byword for quality wine with a history of many vintages whose quality comfortably competes with any First-Growths in the Médoc region and whose character is quintessentially Saint-Julien in style. This is a winemaker at the top of its game: in the 10 years leading up to 2018, 6 vintages received a socre of 96 or higher. The 2009 and 2010 vintages are among the finest ever to have been produced at the estate, with the former gathering the much-coveted ‘perfect’ 100-point score from Robert Parker Jr. in 2011. He also said that "the 2009 will eclipse the fantastic wines produced here in 2005, 2003 and 2000". Ducru Beaucaillou is oft stubborn and closed in its youth, usually yielding its powerful secrets after 10 years of careful cellaring, with a lifespan of at least 10-30 years.
The château has its roots in the 17th century when it was part of the then much larger Château Beychevelle, eventually being sold off as part of a debt payment. The estate stayed in the family through the years to the 1855 Classification, in which it was ranked as a Second-Growth, but was sold shortly afterwards, entering the hands of the Johnston family. Belt-tightening around the Depression and Great War led to Ducru Beaucaillou being sold a number of times, until it finally fell to the Borie family in 1941, in a sorry and dilapidated state. The family worked hard to renovate and augment the estate with the acquisition of a substantial tract of land from neighbouring Château Lagrange. Though their stewardship has been of great benefit to the wine-making here, their tenure has not been without hiccups- in the 1980s cellar contamination left some vintages undrinkable and knocked the château’s reputation. These problems are now consigned to the pages of history and the name Ducru Beaucaillou is now synonymous with quality.
Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou Pricing
Highest rated vintages for Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou
The 2009 Ducru Beaucaillou will eclipse the brilliant wines produced in 2005, 2003 and 2000. It will be interesting to see how the 2009 fares against the 2010 after twenty years of aging, but my money is on the 2009. A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot that achieved 13.5% natural alcohol, this inky purple, unctuous wine possesses classic aromas of graphite, creme de cassis, blueberries, violets, licorice and Christmas fruitcake. Full-bodied and intense with Ducru’s inimitable elegance and purity, it should firm up in the bottle after 7-10 years of cellaring and last for 40-50 years. Magnificent!
With loads of minerality, a terrific opaque purple color, and slightly more structure and tannin than either Poyferre or St.-Pierre (and that's saying something), this is a blockbuster, fabulous Ducru Beaucaillou that should be at its best a good decade from now and last 40-50 years. The proprietor is not alone in thinking this is the finest Ducru Beaucaillou since the 1961. The classic wet rock, creme de cassis, subtle oak and gravelly stoniness of the vineyard come through in this spectacular, full-bodied, gorgeously pure and intense effort. This is wine for the ages that should be forgotten for at least a decade. Proprietor Bruno Borie thinks this wine is as superb as their 2009. Slightly more structured and less flamboyant than its older sibling, it is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot from the very best parcels of the vineyard. This wine tips the scales at 14% natural alcohol but has a normal pH of 3.6, which is one of the characteristics of this vintage (high alcohol, normal pH), which thus accounts for the freshness and precision found in most 2010s.
The 2005 Ducru Beaucaillou is a 10,000-case blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon and 33% Merlot (they used to produce 18,000-20,000 cases). It is an exceptionally powerful wine with a dense purple color, superb intensity, and a beautiful, sweet nose of spring flowers, raspberries, blueberries, graphite, and creme de cassis. Full-bodied with fabulous concentration, exceptionally high tannin, good acidity, and massive layers of richness that build incrementally on the palate, this monumental effort is more structured than their outstanding 2003. It may be the finest wine produced at this estate since the 1982 and 1961 Ducrus. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2050.
At a charity dinner in Charleston, SC, the 1982 Ducru Beaucaillou from my cellar was the only corked bottle out of twenty-two. A subsequent tasting revealed one of the all-time great Ducrus, probably matched or eclipsed by several recent vintages (i.e., 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2008). The 1982 is still 5-8 years away from full maturity, but it exhibits a dense ruby/plum/garnet color to the rim as well as a sweet perfume of forest floor, spice box, cedar, and copious quantities of black fruits. Medium to full-bodied and beautifully pure with sweet tannins, this wine has aged more slowly than I initially expected. It is the finest Ducru Beaucaillou produced after the 1961 and before the 2003. With respect to the 1990, I do not own any of this wine, but it was the last of a series of vintages between 1986 and 1990 that were affected by the TCA-like contamination in the estate's chai, which was completely destroyed and then rebuilt, eliminating the source of these smells. Not every bottle is affected by this, but I do not have any source for this vintage. Release price: ($140.00/case)
I tasted the 1996 Ducru Beaucaillou on four separate occasions from bottle in January. The 1996 is long, with a deep mid-palate. It also reveals tannin in the finish. This wine is remarkable. It is muscular, concentrated, and classic. Bottled in late June, 1998, it exhibits a saturated ruby/purple color, as well as a knock-out nose of minerals, licorice, cassis, and an unmistakable lead pencil smell that I often associate with top vintages of Lafite-Rothschild. It is sweet and full-bodied, yet unbelievably rich with no sense of heaviness or flabbiness. The wine possesses high tannin, but it is extremely ripe, and the sweetness of the black currant, spice-tinged Cabernet Sauvignon fruit is pronounced. This profound, backward Ducru-Beaucaillou is a must purchase. It will be fascinating for readers who own the 1996 to follow the evolution of this exceptional vintage. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2035.
One of the most compelling Ducru Beaucaillou’s made in the last quarter century is the 2003 (which is also the first vintage to be packaged in an impressive heavy glass bottle with a special long cork). A blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot, it is a powerful, tannic, blockbuster effort revealing a liqueur of mineral-like component intermixed with creme de cassis, raspberry, and flower characteristics, and an atypically high 13.5% alcohol. Having firmed up considerably since bottling, it exhibits tremendous definition, weight, and concentration. It is a wine for patient connoisseurs. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2025+. A brilliant tour de force!
A stunning wine from Ducru Beaucaillou which showcases its great terroir, this elegant but substantial 2000 has a dense purple color that has hardly budged since it was first bottled. Displaying a floral note, with hints of boysenberries, black raspberries, black currants and a touch of background oak, the wine has superb concentration and density, but still has some substantial tannins that are not yet fully resolved. I originally predicted that it should be drinkable from 2010-2030, but I would modify that now to 2015-2035.
One of the stars of the vintage, and a remarkable achievement in 2008, with impressive richness, this dense purple colored wine is almost as opaque as the 2010. Spring flowers, crushed rocks, creme de cassis and some subtle oak are followed by a full-bodied, concentrated wine that transcends the vintage character in its power, richness, and aging potential. It also exhibits tremendous precision, purity, and depth of character. It is more forward than the 2010 is likely to be, but probably not as sumptuous as the 2009 will turn out to be. This is a wine to buy. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2035.
This wine is of first-growth quality, not only from an intellectual perspective, but in its hedonistic characteristics. More open-knit and accessible than the extraordinary 1996, Ducru's 1995 exhibits a saturated ruby/purple color, followed by a knock-out nose of blueberry and black raspberry/cassis fruit intertwined with minerals, flowers, and subtle toasty new oak. Like its younger sibling, the wine possesses a sweet, rich mid-palate (from extract and ripeness, not sugar), layers of flavor, good delineation and grip, but generally unobtrusive tannin and acidity. It is a classic, compelling example of Ducru-Beaucaillou that should not be missed. Anticipated maturity: 2003-2025. It should be obvious to readers of my preliminary reports on both the 1995 and 1996 vintages that the family of Jean-Eugene Borie produced some of the greatest wines ever made at their respective chateaux - Ducru-Beaucaillou, Grand-Puy-Lacoste, and Haut-Batailley - in both 1995 and 1996. That has been confirmed once again in the bottled 1995s, and in the evolution of the powerhouse 1996s.
This classic, backward, tannic St.-Julien is made in the style of the 1996 and 1986. The 2006 Ducru Beaucaillou possesses a dense purple color along with a sweet perfume of graphite, black raspberries, cassis, licorice, and subtle toasty oak. Despite their prominent place in the wine's structure, the sweetness of the tannins and the full-bodied, muscular style suggest exceptional patience will be required. This is a big, substantial, meaty, masculine wine built for considerable longevity. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2035.