The name Ducru-Beaucaillou derives partly from the Ducru family that owned the estate for most of the 19th century and built the imposing chateau that now sits on the property. Beaucaillou means “beautiful stones” and refers to the rocky quartz soil that is a key characteristic of the terroir of the vineyard; the roots have to dig deep below the stony top layer for nourishment thus causing the beneficial stress on the vines that is desirable for making great wine. The 185 acre vineyard grows 80% Cabernet and 20% Merlot, with an average vine age of 35 years, though some are nearly 100 years. Ducru-Beaucaillou was classified a second growth in the 1855 Bordeaux classification. However, it is considered a “super second”, that is, a producer almost at the level of first growths such as Chateau Margaux or Lafite Rothschild.
Today, while many Bordeaux chateau are owned by business groups or absentee landowners, Ducru-Beaucaillou has been owned and resided in since the 40’s by the Borie family, who started out as negociants in Bordeaux in the late 1800’s. Bruno Borie, the current proprietor, has vastly reduced the yield of the vineyards over the last few decades, from about 25,000 cases to about 10,000, using only the best grapes. Borie can be whimsical in describing his wines: “If I may risk the comparison, I would say the voluptuous curves of our 2009 recall those of Beyoncé Knowles, and the very academic construction of the 2010 is a tribute to Charlize Theron.” (The 2009, btw, received 100 pts. from Robert Parker).
The estate is located in the St. Julien which, though the smallest appellation of the Medoc, is home to four other Second Growths - Leoville-Las Cases, Leoville Poyferre, Leoville Barton and Gruaud-Larouse – and has eleven classified growths in total. Wines from St. Julien are known for precision, refined texture and elegance. The 2015 was #84 on Wine Spectator’s 2018 top 100.
On a side note, the writer of this email was out for dinner at a small West Village restaurant in the mid 90s with a significant other and we ordered a bottle of Ducru-Beaucaillou. The price was $45 or so and was from an 80s vintage considered to be poor. The price was so low because 1. it was the mid 90’s and Bordeaux price inflation hadn’t completely set in, 2. it was a ‘poor’ vintage and 3. the owner was French and adhered to old world standards on what a reasonable mark-up on a bottle of wine should be. We started drinking and it stopped the conversation, we knew we had something special. And it imparted a lesson: great producers make good wines, whatever the weather. Anyway, 2015 happened to be a very good year . . . for what it’s worth.
Chateau Ducru Beacauillou St.Julien Bordeaux 2015
Sale Price: $183.67
Vinous, 98 pts. – “The 2015 Ducru-Beaucaillou is phenomenally great. Inky, powerful and explosive, the 2015 pulses with energy in all of its dimensions. Creme de cassis, blackberry jam, graphite, smoke, leather and incense, along with the wine's muscular tannins, convey an impression of brooding intensity. The 2015 has been nothing short of sensational on the two occasions I have tasted it so far. Readers should be prepared to be patient. Don't miss it!” (2/2018)
James Suckling, 97 pts. – “Aromas of oyster shell, iron and currants. Hints of iodine. Full-bodied, very tight and focused. Love the finish of sandalwood, cinnamon, violets and lavender. Wonderful tannin texture. Linear and driven. Drink in 2022.” (2/2018)
Wine Advocate, 97 pts. – “Composed of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot. Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, the 2015 Ducru-Beaucaillou is provocatively and profoundly scented of chocolate-covered cherries, fresh black currants, crushed blueberries and licorice with touches of cigar box, roses and violets plus hints of black pepper and tapenade. Medium to full-bodied, rich and sultry with tons of seductive layers and firm, wonderfully velvety tannins, it has a very long, multilayered finish.” (2/2018)
Wine Spectator, 97 pts. – “Showy, with layers of warmed fig, roasted mesquite, black tea, incense and Turkish coffee notes, followed by waves of lush cassis, blackberry and raspberry confiture flavors. This has a graphite grounding rod, a tarry spine and riveting licorice snap details to keep it driving along. A head-turner for sure. Best from 2025 through 2045.” (3/2018)
Past Cellar Selections:
Falletto Giacosa – Grand Cru Barolo
Gianfranco Alessandria Barolo 2016
Beringer Private Reserve 2015 – 99 points!
Huët Clos du Bourg 2019 – Grand Cru from the Loire Valley
Heitz, Dunn, Continuum . . . What is a Cult Cali Red?
Chandon de Briailles - Wines Without Artifice
Magnum Bottles from CVNE Imperial
Beaux Freres Pinot Noir 2018
Viña Real Rioja Gran Reserva – What were you doing in 1987?
Domaine Simon Bize 2018 – Value Burgundy
Domaine du Pelican – Burgundy Meets Jura
La Rioja Alta “890” Gran Reserva Rioja 2004
Alion and Pintia – The Other Vega Sicilias
Three Oderros: for the Picnic Table, the Dinner Table and the Cellar
Burgundy with age from Jean Chauvenet