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Resembling Pauillac titan Château Latour in style in 2006 rather than Saint-Julien, this is a generous yet refined and fresh claret of top quality. Elegant, distinguished and with bags of life ahead.
Product Code: CM11791
View all products by Château Ducru-Beaucaillou
The name of this property has a twofold significance: beaucaillou means ‘beautiful stone’, and is a nod to the multi-coloured pebbles throughout the vineyards here, while Ducru was added to this château’s name in 1795 when it was bought by Bernard Ducru. The time he spent running this property is significant in its history: it was thanks to this man’s vision and improvements in the vineyards that Ducru-Beaucaillou earned its second growth status in the 1855 classification.The property’s reputation was fully established under the ownership of the Borie family who purchased it in 1941, and particularly by Jean-Eugène Borie, who was responsible for the wine between 1953 and his death in 1998. His elder son, Francois-Xavier, managed the estate in Jean-Eugène’s later years but from 2003, for inheritance reasons, Ducru was inherited by his younger brother Bruno and sister, Sabine. Francois-Xavier now runs Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Haut-Batailley. Ducru-Beaucaillou is blessed with a marvellous situation on the famous, deep Günz gravel overlooking the Gironde in the Saint-Julien appellation. It is not just the incomparable views that recommend this position: the river helps to moderate the climate, and the cabernet sauvignon vines – which form the major part of the vineyard – ripen early and well each year. There are 75 hectares of vines in total, with an average age of 35 years; however the total estate covers 245 hectares in all, including parklands, pastures and forests. The vines are meticulously managed and grapes are all handpicked.Bruno Borie has raised the quality (and the price) with greater selection but still retains the wine’s key qualities: elegance, freshness and charm. There had been a blip in quality between 1988 and 1994, when contamination of the cellar by TCA (2,4,6-trichloroanisole, which is responsible for the wine fault commonly referred to as ‘corkiness’) tainted at least part of the vintage. However, the cellars are now completely free of this trouble and it remains consistently one of the greatest examples of Saint-Julien each year. The blend varies from vintage to vintage, but tends to be around 90% cabernet sauvignon and 10% merlot, as Bruno doesn’t believe that other common Bordeaux varieties like cabernet franc and petit verdot thrive here. The wine ages for 18 months in up to 90% new oak. Unusually, the cellars are directly below the château so the wine’s wonderful aromas are always within reach.Ducru-Beaucaillou is known as much for its finesse as its power and is one of the most harmonious clarets of the Médoc. It also improves immeasurably with considerable ageing: it isn’t generally recommended to approach the wine before 12 to 15 years has passed in the greatest vintages, but it will keep for 40 years, and potentially even longer.
The original and most famous wine classification came about when the organisers of the 1855 Universal Exposition of Paris wanted, naturally enough, to show the finest wines of the Bordeaux region. Brokers dealing in the wines got together and produced two classifications of the best red and sweet wines respectively, based on the selling price of the wines at that time. The list was produced very soon after a request for it from the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce was made, strongly suggesting that there was an ‘unofficial’ hierarchy already well known to the brokers. These Grand Cru Classé wines were ranked in five tiers and, apart from the famous promotion of Château Mouton Rothschild in 1973 and the addition of Château Cantemerle to the fourth growths soon after the classification was established, they have remained unchanged ever since. Effectively, they represent what should be the best wines of the Médoc with the one interloper, Château Haut-Brion from Pessac-Léognan in the Graves region. The wines of the right bank, such as Saint-Emilion and Pomerol were not included because their selling price was not as high at that time. Five first growths sit at the head of 62 properties, all of them from the Médoc except for Château Haut-Brion in Pessac-Léognan. Naturally enough, there have been many unofficial revisions made over the years, with expert opinions brought to bear on what promotions and demotions might have been over the years, but none of these musings, no matter how reflective of changing standards and prices they might be, will change the stratification as it stands. The classification is as follows:First Growths (Premiers Crus)Château Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac; Château Latour, Pauillac; Château Margaux, Margaux; Château Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan ; Château Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac.Second Growths (Deuxièmes Crus)Château Rauzan-Ségla, Margaux; Château Rauzan-Gassies, Margaux; Château Léoville-Las Cases, Saint-Julien; Château Léoville-Poyferré, Saint-Julien; Château Léoville-Barton, Saint-Julien; Château Durfort-Vivens, Margaux; Château Gruaud-Larose, Saint-Julien; Château Lascombes, Margaux; Château Brane-Cantenac, Margaux; Château Pichon Longueville Baron, Pauillac; Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac; Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien; Château Cos d'Estournel, Saint-Estèphe; Château Montrose, Saint-Estèphe.Third Growths (Troisièmes Crus)Château Kirwan, Margaux; Château d'Issan (Margaux); Château Lagrange, Saint-Julien; Château Langoa-Barton, Saint-Julien; Château Giscours, Margaux; Château Malescot Saint Exupéry, Margaux; Château Cantenac-Brown, Margaux; Château Boyd-Cantenac, Margaux; Palmer, now Château Palmer, Margaux; Château La Lagune, Ludon (Haut-Médoc); Château Desmirail, Margaux; Château Dubignon, Margaux; Château Calon-Ségur, Saint-Estèphe; Château Ferrière, Margaux; Château Marquis d'Alesme Becker, Margaux.Fourth Growths (Quatrièmes Crus)Château Saint-Pierre, Saint-Julien; Château Talbot, Saint-Julien; Château Branaire-Ducru, Saint-Julien; Château Duhart-Milon, Pauillac; Château Pouget, Margaux; Château La Tour Carnet, Saint-Laurent (Haut-Médoc); Château Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estèphe; Château Beychevelle, Saint-Julien; Château Prieuré-Lichine, Margaux; Château Marquis de Terme, Margaux.Fifth Growths (Cinquièmes Crus)Château Pontet-Canet, Pauillac; Château Batailley, Pauillac; Château Haut-Batailley, Pauillac; Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac; Château Grand-Puy-Ducasse, Pauillac; Château Lynch-Bages, Pauillac; Château Lynch-Moussas, Pauillac; Château Dauzac, Margaux; Château d'Armailhac, Pauillac; Château du Tertre, Margaux; Château Haut-Bages-Libéral, Pauillac; Château Pédesclaux, Pauillac; Château Belgrave, Saint-Laurent (Haut-Médoc); Château de Camensac, Saint-Laurent (Haut-Médoc); Château Cos Labory, Saint-Estèphe; Château Clerc-Milon, Pauillac; Château Croizet Bages, Pauillac; Château Cantemerle, Macau (Haut-Médoc).Alongside the reds resides the classification for Sauternes and Barsac from further up river on the Garonne. There, 27 estates make up a smaller pyramid of their own, topped by the legendary Château d’Yquem, which had been classified out on its own above all the other sweet wines of the region. Since the 1885 classification there have been other such systems established. Those of Graves and Saint-Emilion, both established much later than the 1855 and both subject to change, changes which cause no end of trouble for the authorities as estates are promoted or, more contentiously demoted and seek legal redress for the perceived injustice.Cru Bourgeois is a further classification in the Médoc, representing some 30% of the production of the area. It was established in 1932 to represent properties outside of the Grand Cru Classé estates, though it was not officially recognised by the French government until 2003. At that time the selection of properties entitled to use the designation was revised and, unsurprisingly, fiercely contested by those who were left outside the classification, leading to a legal decision annulling the original classification while their status is re-examined by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce. The list has previously been revised every 12 years, but from the 2018 vintage will be accredited every five years, and is based on the history terroir, winemaking and quality control of the properties, overseen by the Alliance des Crus Bourgeios de Médoc created in the same year as the revision. It is divided into three categories: Cru Bourgeios, Cru Bourgeios Supérieur and Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel. In theory the fact that qualification for the designation is based on quality should see improvements in the quality of wines made under its nomenclature.
The brilliant 2005 vintage was always going to cast something of a shadow over its successor, but there were very good wines made in every appellation of Bordeaux in 2006. Certainly the quality is more uneven than in 2005 but from the best and most fastidious producers there are wines of balance, finesse and complexity that is unique to the region.July in Bordeaux was the hottest on record but was followed by a cooler, overcast August which slowed the ripening process but added finesse. The perfect start in September was followed by storms in the middle of the month, heavy in the northern Médoc, and rot was encouraged which may have caught out those who were careless in the care of their vines or who harvested late. However, the grapes were high in sugar and those who picked before the rains came were clearly at an advantage.Finesse, charm and expressive fruit with good structure for keeping are the characteristics of the year’s successful wines. They are closer in style to the wines of the 2001 and 2004 vintages, both of which are very attractive for mid-term drinking, and all of which are less dense than the exceptional 2005s. The 2006s often have more body than the 2001s and 2004s.
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