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Bordeaux 2019: Château Ducru-Beaucaillou

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

What a vintage for Château Ducru-Beaucaillou. The Grand Vin has extraordinary depth in 2019. It is a giant in terms of extract and structure. The fruit is so compelling and the tannins so supple, it must surely vie to be amongst one of the wines of the vintage, along with that other left bank stunner Pichon Lalande [more on that wine shortly]. This Ducru is clearly a legendary wine in the making. It feels more evidently tannic than the other potential ‘hundred pointers’ in 2019 but what a wine. It’s a fitting tribute for the 300th anniversary vintage here [yep Ducru has been around since 1720]. La Croix de Beaucaillou looks really good in 2019 too. It is wonderfully plush and refined. There are also some additions to Bruno Borie’s line up here with the release of St Julien Le Petit Ducru [effectively replacing Lalande Borie] and a new Haut-Médoc, Madame de Beaucaillou, both of which also impressed.

In his engagingly florid vintage report Bruno Borie describes a growing season not without its own challenges, but which contained all the elements for fine quality. Flowering occurred in late May in generally good conditions, although weather was later more patchy following a cooler spell in June. Heatwaves came in late June and July, and there was almost no rain over the summer until the end of harvest. Moderate temperatures returned in August and September which helped preserve acidity in the grapes. The rain in the last week of September, after the Merlot had been picked, provided a much needed fillip for the Cabernet Sauvignon, enabling it to complete its final phenolic ripening. “The observation,” Borie asserts, “is that here, and no doubt better than Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon can cope with these warmer climatic conditions by maintaining a long vegetative cycle: 120 days or more from flowering to the full ripening of the grapes.”

The process at Ducru, as at all top estates, is to refine and make more precise the winegrowing and winemaking. In a vintage like 2019 where the harvest conditions were unhurried, allowed for optimal picking on a plot by plot basis. These plots, in turn, were translated into plot by plot fermentations. This year they used new ‘smart’ conical tanks of 60/80hl capacity, helping to express the terroir even more accurately, prior to final blending.

The results? As I’ve mentioned Château Ducru Beaucaillou itself is a marvel in 2019 but the overall range here is impressive. Second wine La Croix de Beaucaillou is aromatic and seductive, displaying the most enticing fruit flavours and has bags of style. Le Petit Ducru comes other plots in St Julien and those associated with the former Lalande Borie label. This looks a smart buy in 2019 and displays lots of sweet, ripe black fruits. Madame de Beaucaillou is a new wine from vineyards located in the Haut-Médoc around Cussac. This is soft and supple in 2019 with plenty of plum and ripe cherry scented fruit.

The following notes were taken from samples sent to London and tasted in June.

Madame de Beaucaillou, Haut-Médoc, 2019

Gorgeously deep; purple edge; ripe and satisfying; full; some plums and plum pudding tones; full; lovely ripe cherry notes; black cherry; supple fruit; extract is soft and supple; plenty of middle here; some life at the end and freshness; plenty of chew but tannin is ripe. Gutsy. Good fruit on the finish. Lots of extract and matter, but this works! [68% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 13.92% alc, pH 3.62, IPT90, will get 12 months in 20% new oak]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2023-2032. 90-91+

Le Petit Ducru de Ducru-Beaucaillou, St Julien, 2019

Deep and dark; health purple at edge; sweet ripe black fruit aromas; lovely polish; some asphalt and tar; little hint of liquorice; sweet and full; bright black cherry too; lovely aromatics; [was previously Lalande Borie but that has now gone as vineyards largely being replanted]; lovely ripe fruit; real lift and polish; some violet tones; fresh; lots of fruit here; works a treat, lots of length. Good buy potentially. [60% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot, 14.2% alc, pH 3.79, IPT 87, will have 12 months in 30% new oak]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2024-2035. 91-93+

La Croix Ducru-Beaucaillou, St Julien, 2019

Dark centre; opaque; fresh purple at edge: lots of fruit evident; opens up to reveal wonderful lush aromas; lots of black cherry; lovely freshness still; but plenty of plush fruit; nice entry; lots of depth and chew to this; polished however; has grip and texture to the tannins; plenty of grip but extract is ripe. Purity; plenty of extract but the tannins are so soft and the fruit is so lush; this wine feels very complete. Really good chew on the finish; boatload of fruit and matter. Still retains freshness. Caressing tannins. [50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 14.3% alc, pH 3.78, IPT 88, will age 12 months in 60% new oak]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2025-2035. 93-95+

Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien, 2019

Very deep at centre; vibrant purple at edge; colour close to the rim; legs; cassis; cool blackcurrants aromatics; some spice; bit tight to start with but slowly unfurled; blackcurrants; again quite tight initially but these aromatics really opened up; this is a giant on the palate; with lots of extract and tannin and fruit; grippy; so much structure and depth but caressing fruit – up there with the very best; opened up fabulously over the course of an hour; super precise wine; layered and pure; so concentrated but with such supple tannins; terrific on the palate with great density. Approaching perfection in red wine. [80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 14.2% alc. pH 3.8, IPT 84, aged for 18 months in 100% new oak]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2028-2050. 98-100

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