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Château Beychevelle


Address: 33250 St Julien-Beychevelle

Telephone: +33 (0)5 56 73 20 70



The label here is as elegant and beautiful as the seventeenth century Château itself. The sailing ship on the label is a reference to the history of the estate when Beychevelle was the fiefdom of the Ducs d’Epernon. The first duke, a French Grand Admiral, was such an important and wise man that reputedly every sailing ship that passed the chateau on the Gironde had to lower its sails in recognition of the powerful owner. This accounts for the name Baisse-Voile which subsequently changed to Beychevelle. Today Château Beychevelle is owned by GMF and Suntory.

When this estate gets it right Beychevelle produces a wine that has intensity and elegance alongside the attractive St Julien qualities – the complex aromas and flavours of cedar, spice, tobacco intermingled with blackcurrant and undergrowth. In difficult years however it can tend towards the austere and light. The 2009 was stellar during primeurs and 2010 hot on its heels, though the places have reversed since, with 2009 disappearing into its shell, showing inconsistency. Both the 2011 and 2012 are leaner, though the latter has filled out a little since primeurs, and 2013 looks to be a good effort for the vintage. The second wine is Amiral de Beychevelle.

Vineyard/Terroir:  77 hectares on deep Garonne gravel planted with 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Attained sustainable agriculture and ‘terra vitis’ certification in 2005.

Winemaking/Elévage: Traditional with 15-18 months in oak barrels with up to 60% new oak.

Tasting notes:

  • 2015 Deep colour; purple edge; attractive lifted fruits; nice fine Bordeaux aromatics; elegant palate; quite measured; has refinement. Very balanced and harmonious. Attractive Beychevelle. [47% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot]. Drink 2022-2032. Tasted April 2016 UGCB. 91-93+
  • 2014 Deep and saturated look; earthy purple at edge; ripeness on the nose; fresh cherry; little spice; menthol; bit worked feel; nice entry; soft and voluptuous on the palate [the blend is Merlot dominant]; nicely balanced; looser and softer style; some spicy blackcurrant fruit; certain raisin element; elegant finish. 51% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot, 50% new oak; harvest dates 25/9-14/10. Drink 2020-2030. Tasted UGC 31 March, 2015. 89-91+
  • 2013 Deep-ish; vibrant edge; some menthol, blackcurrant fruits; quite full on the nose; inky blackcurrant tones on the palate; some cassis; not a bad effort. Composed with some elegance. Good effort. [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot. Harvest 1-10th October, 13% alc]. Tasted UGC 1/4/14. Drink 2018-2025. 87-89
  • 2012 Mid depth; cool aromatics [a little reduction] but linear; spicy tones and some oak resin; more structured on the palate with flesh and bright acidity; little boney nevertheless; elegant and leaner style; dry on the finish but the length is good. Needs a few years to fill out. Drink 2017-2025. 88 UGC Oct ’14 [Earlier note] Mid depth; little oak influence; some jam; red fruits; black cherry too; palate feels a bit hard; finishes dry. Should fill out further but feels a little mean on the finish. 2011 felt a little better to me. 85-87 UGC Tasted April 11, 2013 [Earlier note] Deep looking; red fruits, jammy note; strawberry tones; red fruits and feels a little worked; some tannin to resolve at the end, feels extracted and a little stretched. Will probably settle but feels a little hollow to me after the up-front jam lift. 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc. Harvested Cabernet between October 12-18, so relatively late. Tasted UGC April 9, 2013. 86-88.
  • 2011 Mid depth; elegant blackcurrant cassis tones; some red fruits and jam; quite angular palate and high acidity which gives it a very grippy feel. Needs a few years but will probably always be angular and boney. Drink 2016-2026. 86 UGC Oct ’13 [Earlier note] Deep saturated; tight to rim; blackcurrants, deep, ripe lots of real freshness; structured wine on the palate; chew and density – nicely balanced and handled. Good. Second sample little coarser, more extracted in feel, dry tannin. 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc 2% Petit Verdot – harvest dates 14-29 September.  Tasted twice at UGC. 86-90? Apr ’12 UGC primeur tasting
  • 2010 Deep and saturated looking; chocolate and chalk tones; spices; later opens up in the glass to reveal blackcurrant aromas; blackcurrant fruit on the palate; nice seam of fruit; polished feel to it; stalky blackcurrant characters; nice; quite tight finish with nice acidity. Drink 2016-2030. 91 MW Institute Nov ’14 [Earlier note] Deep and pretty saturated; fresh blackcurrants; lots of purity here; clean and not at all sullen as ’09 was after bottling; pretty palate; rose petal, blackcurrants; elegance, not the same intensity as some; grip on the finish. Will probably gain further weight. 91+/100 UGC Oct ’12 [Earlier] Saturated colour, dense core; rosehip, perfume, higher toned notes; blackcurrants, quite tight bit closed, all tannin and grip, some length? This sample was a bit closed. 87-89?/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGC. [Second tasting] Deep and dense; some blackcurrant, ripe, some cream; stones; some floral notes too; quite tight on the palate; dense, richness, good density but less voluptuous than 2009. Some spice. Good length. Much better sample. 90-92+/100 Tasted 7 April 2010 UGC
  • 2009 Mid depth; deep core; red fruits, little toffee, some tar and sap; lots of depth to the fruit on the palate with saturation; chewy and feels pretty extracted on the finish. Lovely and lush during primeurs, closed when first bottled and now a little disjointed. Some inconsistency here. Drink 2016-2030 89 MW Institute Nov 13 [Earlier note] Mid density; dark at centre; some cassis and lift; chewy palate but very closed; blackcurrants and some tobacco but far more subdued, more structured and far less exotic/flamboyant than at primeur tastings. Clearly this wine has tightened up during elevage and since bottling. I’d expect this to improve. 90-92+/100 UGC Oct ’11 [Earlier] Wonderful ripe red fruits on the nose; very seductive and full; very attractive and flattering at this stage; intense and lovely; wonderful fruit balance; again seductive palate; open and very full; excellent length. Tannin high but ripe and overall feel is very supple and round. 13.9 degrees in alcohol but doesn’t feel heavy. A blend of  46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. Terrific wine. 92-94/100. Tasted 30th March and 1st April ’10 UGC Primeurs tasting.
  • 2008 Mid depth; some red fruit, savour; opens up quite well – blackcurrant seam – some stalky cool harvest Cabernet tones; earthy, blackcurrant cassis on the palate; little dryness here to the tannins but there is fruit. 88 MW Institute Nov ’12 [earlier] Some depth at core; earthy purple at edge; some lift and strawberry; quite elegant palate- not showing the intensity or depth say of Lagrange in 2008 – feels almost old fashioned Beychevelle. Bit angular on the palate with tannins dry and present. May round out but not amongst the best wines in St Julien in this vintage – or a patch on the beauty produced here in 2009. May put in weight in bottle. 86?/100 UGC Oct ’10.
  • 2007 Good colour; depth and legs in the glass; some leaf, tobacco but a little dumb at first; opens up; blackcurrants, tobacco flavours on the palate; fairly modest body; tannin, structure evidence and lacks middle palate richness. Sinewy effort. 86/100 MW Institute Nov ’11 [Earlier] Mid red; elegant nose; some red fruits; quite attractive; some resin; palate attractive; little on the dry side; lacks flesh and a little angular. May fill out. 84-86/100 UGC London tasting Oct ‘09
  • 2006 Good depth, dark at core and dense to the rim; some leaf and blackcurrant, elegance here, some lift with coffee and mocha notes, quite attractive; layers here; not the biggest St Julien but intense in this vintage; good attractive wine on the palate; mid weight wine with real pleasure and elegance but also inrtensity. Some cassis and resin – blackcurrants and rose hips. Plenty to chew on here but tannins pretty fine and well handled. Great length. This is a considerable success. 92+/100 MW Institute Nov ’10.
  • 1998 Mid dark black, some tobacco and savoury notes to the nose; elegant palate with some austerity at finish. Good not great. 87/100 June ‘09
  • 1989 Good colour; up to rim; fine St Julien nose with tobacco and cedar and a lot of ripe Merlot coming through; Palate elegant with a good long finish. Very good wine. 91/100 Sept ‘95
  • 1986 Good colour; red/black with some mahogany at edge; closed initially but then revealed classical St Julien nose of tobacco, spices and cedar tones with blackcurrant fruit beneath; palate elegant with similar flavours; some unresolved tannin at the end but overall wonderfully mature and elegant St Julien. 91/100 Apr ‘09 

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