Visit at Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou
The first Chateau I visited in Bordeaux was Ducru Beaucaillou on WED afternoon. The appointment was for 17:15 so I left Vinexpo around 16:00 to make sure I arrive in time. There are about 60 km from Bordeaux to Saint Julien. Our host at the Chateau, Mr Stephen Lemaitre – a gentleman from Scotland, explained thoroughly the history of the domain and shared extensive information about the vines, the works in the vineyard, the wine making process and the wines. The domain produces four wines: Ducru Beaucaillou – the grand vin(about 10-12,000 cases) and La croix de Beaucaillou – second wine both from 75 ha, Lalande de Borie from 25 ha and Ducluzeau in Listrac Medoc. Ducru Beaucaillou comes from a vineyard close to an estuary. The soil is gravelly, so the heat during the day is retained by the pebbles and liberated during night. The vines are on average 35-40 years old.
Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou is ranked as a Second Growth in the 1855 Classification.The actual name of the Chateau comes from the pebbles found into the soil: Beaucaillou translates into beautiful stone. The vines of Ducru Beaucaillou are 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot. There is a high plantation density: 10,000 vines per ha creating competition between vines that go deeper into the soil to search for the nutriments, reaching 6 meters down.
The wines have seen a sustainable progress and more consistency since 2003, however acclaimed vintages in Bordeaux produced excellent wines for Ducru Beaucaillou: 1961, 1970, 1982 are showcased in the tasting room.
Ducru Beaucaillou is aged for 18 months in 95% new Frenc oak and Croix de Beaucaillou about 12 months in 20-60% new French oak depending on the quality of vintage. The last two vintages: 2009 and 2010 produced some of the best wines this property ever made.
As we walked down the cellar to reach the tasting room, a massive white stone is showcased as a work of art. Word is: it was found in the vineyard.
On the walls there are tasting notes for the domain’s 2010 wines.
As we approach the tasting room, one can see a shrine like construction where wines in different bottle sizes and more rocks are resting as an exhibition.
We tasted the 2010 wines: Ducru Beaucaillou, La Croix de Beaucaillou and Lalande Borie. Lalande Borie is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, as opposed to the Ducru and Croix that contain only Cabernet Sauv and Merlot.
The most impressive of the wines is by far the grand vin: Ducru-Beaucaillou, however La Croix and Lalande are worth seeking out as well.
2010 Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou
Profound dark purple color. An opulent and developing nose, with layers of black fruits and spices. Luscious but well balanced on the palate, with tremendous concentration of ripe, velvety tannins, sustainable acidity and impressive fruit. There is a very long and powerful finish with persistent spicy fruit aromas in the aftertaste. Incredible richness even at this stage.
The 2010 Ducru was rated 95-100 points by most of the major wine critics and claimed to be the best wine the domain has ever made. For me, as I am fairly new to tasting en-primeurs, it feels like a 94-96 points wine, but promising more.
2010 La Croix de Beaucaillou
Dark red violet color. Less opulent than the Grand vin, but still rich aromas of black cherries and other dark fruits. More approachable, but still imposing texture on the palate, good balance and a medium plus finish. Designed to be consumed sooner, but still enough tannins and complexity to age gracefully and be a value wine. 88-91/100
Did not manage to find my tasting notes for Lalande Borie. All three wines are unquestionably good. The en-primeur releasing prices for La Croix de Beaucaillou and Ducru Beaucaillou are 33.60 Eur, respectively 150 Eur (-16.7% lower compared to the 2009) ex-negociant. Coming out with a lower price level for the Grand vin when all the other Chateau’s released higher prices for their 2010s, Mr Bruno Borie is likely to emerge as a hero, especially on the USA market, by offering a higher rated wine at a lower price compared to its 2009.
I left the Chateau with a strong desire to return soon or at least to taste more of their wines. My experiences with wines from this domain were a 1966 Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou(you can read here) and a 2005 La Croix de Beaucaillou(you can read here), none of them disappointing.
Here is a video with the property and the story of the Chateau told by Mr Bruno Borie.