It shouldn’t have come as a surprise given the man, but I’ve just discovered [having got around to reading them] that Bruno Borie, the force behind Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, writes wonderfully playful vintage reports. Usually you reach for these when you’ve forgotten your producer chats, or not understood their French, but these Borie-penned documents are worth seeking out in themselves. On his 2013 vintage report, I’m 100 points [as James Suckling might say]. Borie describes how the grape clusters yearned for a man `with a slow hand,’ and ‘an easy touch,’ in the manner of Pointer Sisters [Slow Hand, 1981] . Go Bruno, go! But did the grapes get lasting satisfaction in 2013?
Certainly Château Ducru-Beaucaillou seems to have succeeded with the Pointer Sisters philosophy. The 2013 is elegant and unforced and has decent purity and length. The tannins feel harmonious. It adds up to a pretty generous and smooth effort. Ducru doesn’t come cheap of course, although from a quick search it looks like the offer price [around £720-750 or $1300 per 12] is at least cheaper than comparable recent vintages so it passes that en primeur test.
The harvest started early here with the Merlot on September 26, the Cabernet on October 2nd, and Petit Verdot on October 9th. This was earlier than at other leading St Julien properties Château Léoville-Las-Cases and Château Léoville Poyferré, though, interestingly, these are nearly identical dates to Château Latour. Much effort was spent during the summer to make up for a growing season disrupted by the wet and cold period April-June, to ensure that what fruit there was, was in the best possible condition as the harvest approached [with increasing speed].
They were gentle in the cellar too in 2013, with lower temperature ferments and only a little pumping over, to achieve gentle extraction. Still the grand vin has gone into 100% new oak [which interestingly you don’t notice] and will [probably] stay there for 18 months.
Croix de Beaucaillou is floral and fruit driven; generous for the vintage. It comes from a portion of the Ducru vineyard situated in-land on the famous Gunz gravel. Château Lalande-Borie is a thirty hectare property [twenty-five planted] that was created by Jean-Eugène Borie in 1970. The vineyards are situated in the west of the appellation further inland. Lalande-Borie is spicy and elegant in 2013.
The following wines were tasted at Château Ducru-Beaucaillou on April 3, 2014.
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, St Julien
Deeper; vibrant purple at edge; glossy look; pure blackcurrants, pure, saline quality; excellent purity on the palate, very linear with a crisp quality and vibrancy; very nicely balanced overall – has genuine delicacy and elegance. Should come together nicely. Pure and attractive St Julien. [90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 13% alc, TA 3.59, pH 3.6, IPT 68, 100% new oak]Drink 2018-2030. 90-92
Croix de Beaucaillou, St Julien
Deeper; vibrant and attractive floral perfume; sweet and sour cherry; spices; nice entry on the palate; soft with good density but elegant and round. Much more generosity than many in this vintage. Elegant and fruit driven.[52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 13.15% alc, TA 3.5, pH 3.73, IPT 65, 60% new oak]. Drink 2017-2024. 86-88+
Château Lalande-Borie, St Julien
Mid depth; pretty and perfumed; cherry and raspberry notes; pretty; spicy and vibrant palate with grip and some sap. Spicy finish. Elegant and crisp.[70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc. 12.95% alc, TA 3.61, pH 3.7, IPT 60, 30% new oak]. Drink 2016-2024. 85-87