Wine Words & Video Tape

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Château Branaire-Ducru


Address: 33250 St Julien

Telephone: +33 (0)5 56 59 25 86



Château Branaire-Ducru has a good reputation. The wines are sturdy, leaner than some, perhaps reflecting their slightly higher percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. Second wine here is Duluc de Branaire-Ducru.

Vineyard/Terroir: 50 hectares on Medoc gravel planted with 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot.

Winemaking/Elevage: State of the art winery since 1991, with vat room working on gravity flow. Traditional, in barrel, 50% of which are new.

Tasting notes:

  • 2015 Nice healthy colour; fresh purple at edge; bright fruit tones; alive; stylish Cabernet aromatics; spicy and appetizing; nice entry on the palate; attractive purity; pure blackcurrant tones; mineral notes on the finish; fresh. [65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc]. Drink 2022-2032. Tasted April 2016 UGCB. 91-93+
  • 2014 Mid depth; deepish core; fresh blackcurrant fruit; cool and clean; perfumed elements; fresh and very pure; nicely unadorned; really like this style; nicely proportional and with good acid; expect this Branaire to fill out; concentration here but nicely handled; plenty of flesh and will fill out nicely. Stylish St Julien with good length. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot; 2% Cabernet Franc. Drink 2020-2035. Tasted UGC 31 March, 2015. 91-93
  • 2013 Deep at core; purple edge; fresh blackcurrant tones on the nose; fruit is clean and nicely lifted; creamy notes; very pure and clean again on the palate; medium bodied with sap; layers here. Nicely done. [63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted UGC 1/4/14. Drink 2018-2028. 88-90
  • 2012 Mid depth; little wet rock/chalky note; not that expressive at first; elegant blackcurrant and spice tones on aeration; blackcurrant fruit with some depth to the palate; savoury edge; flesh and grip [more flesh evident than neighbour Beychevelle]. Palate has complexity. Drink 2018-2026. 89 UGC Oct ’14 [Earlier note] Deep-ish; fresh looking; some fresh, sappy Cabernet tones on the nose; quite taut palate; angular and grippy quality to the tannins; firm acid; chewy palate. Overall the wine has a certain density but also angularity and grip. Not a huge joy. 87-88  UGC Tasted April 11, 2013 [Earlier note] Mid depth; some stalky notes; fresh Cabernet; some spices; feels fairly high-toned and ‘boney’; angular palate [sample a little cold] feels a bit pinched. Tasted UGC Tuesday April 9, 2013. 86-88.
  • 2011 Mid red; wet rock, stoney notes; not wildly aromatic; blackcurrant tones on the palate but another austere effort with a dry finish. Not floating my boat. Drink 2016-2026. 86 UGC Oct ’13 [Earlier note] Deep and saturated; nice pure blackcurrant seam, some fruit compote notes; leaner than Léoville Barton. Cool, fresh stalky blackcurrant. Pretty complete and maybe a bit slowburn. Cool blackcurrant palate; loads of structure and acid; tannin well handled. Grippy. Will work and Branaire not usually the most expressive en primeur. Tasted twice at UGC. 88-90 Apr ’12 UGC primeur tasting
  • 2010 Deep and saturated looking; stoney mineral tones; sturdy and pent up in feel; cassis comes through later; inky and intense on the palate; firm wine; nice blackcurrant fruit; elegant and pent-up; needs time to uncoil. Drink 2018-2030. 91+ MW Institute Nov ’14 [Earlier note] Mid depth; pretty deep core; pure blackcurrants, some minerals; nice entry; blackcurrant fruit; plenty of material; fresh acids and structure here; chewy finish. Has length and plenty of fruit. 92+/100 UGC Oct ’12 [Earlier] Deep, saturated; fresh feel here, blackcurrants; grip and acid on the palate with tannin and not overtly flattering to taste. Will settle. Goodish 88/100 Tasted April 5 2011. [Second tasting] Mid depth, purple at edge; quite velvety, ripe notes, cream; cherry and blackcurrant too; ripe and chewy with density; quite fresh and grippy. Will settle. All bones and elbows here now. 88-90/100 Tasted April 7 2011 UGC
  • 2009 Deep colour; wet stones, mineral notes and menthol and blackcurrant wine gum tones; minty; stalky blackcurrant flavours on the palate with menthol and minty highlights. Nice chew and sap on the end shows that the wine is not without freshness. Purity. Still pretty tight. An ’09 that needs time. Drink 2017-2030+ 92 MW Institute Nov ’13 [Earlier note] Deep and dense; cassis, blackcurrants and minerals; deep and thick; purity to the fruit; some undergrowth too; very ripe palate again with purity; this has put on weight and nicely polished; bite and chew on the finish and feels long term. Improved and more together now than during primeurs week. 92-93+/100 UGC Oct ’11 [Earlier] Fresh and clean; some rosehip, cassis and blackcurrants; slightly stalky note; not as round in style as the others; quite structured palate; more hard tannin evident here; one of the more awkward of the St Juliens at the tasting. Hopefully will come round and the score reflects the uncertainty.  88-90?/100. Tasted 30th March and 1st April ’10 UGC Primeurs tastings.
  • 2008 Mid depth; some wet stone, chalk qualities; earthy blackcurrants again; little angular on the palate, or at least not currently that expressive; does open in the glass and there is purity to the fruit. 87-88 MW Institute Nov ’12 [Earlier] Deep purple red; some roses and also stone fruits and a mineral like quality here; palate a little hard and austere; blackcurrants and fruit but some angularity; this will probably remain on the ‘elegant’ side, though may put on weight; chewy tannins at the end and quite dry. 86-88?/100 UGC Oct ’10.
  • 2007 Mid depth; fresh, some stalkiness, blackcurrants beneath; not showy; spicy palate with herbal tines, oak influence and elegance. Again lacks a bit of middle like the Beychevelle. Should round out further but will always remain a fraction short of the mark. 86/100 MW Institute Nov ’11 [Earlier] Mid red; nicely integrated nose; creamy blackcurrants; good; palate stalky blackcurrants; softer on the palate and less angular than Beychevelle. OK. 86-88/100 UGC London tasting Oct ‘09
  • 2006 Deep and dense, quite dark at edge; stony, minerally nose, quite solid which later yields blackcurrants and almost some mint and camphor; this is a strong nose and lots of blackcurrants here; blackcurrants come through on the palate along with acid and tannin. There is some dryness to the palate here but there is extract and fruit to match. Not that bad and needs time as it will probably fill out further. 88-90/100 MW Institute Nov ’10.
  • 2001 Dark red; some spice and tobacco on the nose; blackcurrants; but felt extracted and hard. Not sure here. Bad bottle? 86/100 Dec ‘06
  • 1971 Translucent brown; VA lifted Musar like nose; palate tired; flat and austere with tannic end. Was probably soft originally but fruit disappeared over the years. 75/100  Mar ‘96

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