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Château Ducru-Beaucaillou is the name of a wine producing vineyard situated in the Saint-Julien appellation of the Bordeaux region of France. It is also the name of the main red wine (Grand vin) produced by this property. Wine produced at the vineyard was classified as one of fifteen Deuxièmes Crus (Second Growths) in the original Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855.
A large proportion of Bordeaux wine properties take their name from their previous owners. With Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, this is only part of the story. Part of the name of the estate originates from their terroir - it is named for its beautiful stones – the 'beaux cailloux' - the coarse lumps of quartz, flint and other rocks that are clearly visible in the vineyard's soil.
Château Ducru-Beaucaillu is one of the oldest Bordeaux wine properties in the Médoc. The estate dates from around the beginning of the 13th century. When Bertrand Ducru purchased the estate in 1795, he added his name to the winery which became known as 'Ducru-Beaucaillou.'
The estate was purchased by François Borie in 1941 and the property and its vineyards have remained in the family, together with the family's other estates: Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Château Haut-Batailley. Today the estate is managed by Bruno Borie.
Jean-Eugène Borie SA (Borie family)
Total: 75 hectares (123 acres)
Cabernet Sauvignon 65%; Merlot 25%; Cabernet Franc 5% and Petit Verdot 5%
|Wines produced||Château Ducru-Beaucaillou (first wine)
Carruades de Lafite (second wine)
La Croix de Beaucaillou, Lalande Borie and Ducluzeau ( a 98% Merlot based wine)
A thick layer of gravel over limestone. Elevations and water access make this one of the finest terroires in the Médoc.
Top Vintages Produced
1947, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011
The topography and geology of the terroir make Ducru-Beaucaillou highly suited to the production of great wines. Its closeness to the River Gironde estuary plays a key role in the vineyard's micro-climate, providing heat in winter and coolness in summer and generally sparing the local vineyards the ravages of frost and hailstorms.
Some 800 hectares of communal terroir around the Saint-Julien area is characterised by a layer of Garonne, or Günz, gravel dating from the early Quaternary period. The 75-hectare vineyard of Ducru-Beaucaillou lies on the eastern edge of this great communal terroir, close to the river and among the deepest layers of Quaternary gravel stones.
The average age of the vines is 35 years. With age, the vines become less fertile and at the same time develop a deep root system, up to 6 metres deep.
After harvesting the grapes, by hand, sorting suitable de-stalking and pressing (varying according to harvest, varietal and plot), each batch of must is individually fermented using traditional techniques: fermentation, temperature, duration, intensity and frequency of pumping over being determined individually for each vat, which contains only grapes from one specific plot.
Fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled stainless steel vessels, followed by malolactic fermentation in vats. The wine-making process however, changes from year to year, depending on the grape harvest.
Alcoholic fermentation generally takes about 2 weeks, during which time the must (grapes, skins and pips) is pumped over regularly (twice daily) to oxygenate the yeasts, homogenise the must, dampen the cap (skins and pips that rise to the surface) and allow better extraction of tannins. Fermentation is complete when all the sugar has been turned into alcohol. From then on, the wine is left to macerate for about another week. Once completed, the wine is decanted into barrels, , for 18-20 months
In addition to the first growth, about a third of the wine produced by the estate (up to 30000 cases per annum) is released as a second wine under the label of 'Carruades de Lafite', which is made up of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, and a greater proportion of Merlot, which because of its name and association with the Grand Cru, is much sought after and has also become very collectable. It takes its name from a part of the vineyard located near to Mouton Rothschild.
Today, Château Ducru Beaucaillou is producing some of the finest wines they have ever made. Much of credit for the resurgence of the marque lies with Bruno Borie, the current proprietor and a descendant of Francis Borie.
Château Ducru Beaucaillou in the news
- At the start of 2011, Bruno-Eugène Borie enlisted the talents of the very stylish and very much in vogue, British jewellery designer Jade Jagger (daughter of celebrity rockstar Mick Jagger) to redesign the label and packaging of its prestige cuvée Croix de Beaucaillou. Jade Jagger succeeded in adopting a contemporary style, which successfully promotes the taste qualities of Croix de Beaucaillou while at the same time highlighting the prestigious history of Château Ducru-Beaucaillou.
- On November 10th, 2011, at the Aussino World Wines Festival held in Guangzhou (Canton) China, one of 50 specially designed melchiors (18 litres or 24 bottles) of the 2009 vintage Croix de Beaucaillou was sold to two collectors of great vintages, a married couple from Ouroumtchi (Ürümqi), a town of 2,3 million inhabitants situated in the autonomous province of Xinjiang in the North-West of China. The Jade Jagger designed bottle was auctioned at some 90 000 RMB (about 10,300 € / £8,400)
- Throughout the Autumn/Christmas season of 2011 other prestigious bottles designed by Jade Jagger featured in window displays of some the most beautiful shops all over the world: Galeries Lafayette (Paris), Harrods (London), Lavinia (Madrid, Geneva), Scherer (Genève), Sherry-Lehmann (New York), Wally’s (Los Angeles), KDW (Berlin), SAQ (Montréal), Duty Free Airport (Dubaï), Watson’s Wine (Hong Kong), Enoteca (Tokyo), Formosa (Taïwan), Oenothèque (Monaco) and several others.
- The wine expert Robert Parker recently gave a rating of 100 out of 100 to the 2009 vintage Château Ducru Beaucaillou St Julien, Bordeaux, France.
- Address: Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, 33250 St-Julien-Beychevelle
- Telephone: +33 (0) 5 56 73 16 73
- Fax: +33 (0) 5 56 59 27 37
- Internet: www.chateau-ducru-beaucaillou.com
About the author
Philip Day is an early-retired academic in linguistics who has published many articles.
A North-Midlander (The Potteries) by birth, he currently lives close to the Lancashire Pennines which he regularly explores with his Patterdale terrier, Max.
In particular he has a keen interest in European fine wines and good food and will be contributing further articles in the future for Escapement.uk.com.