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May 28, 2015

Ducru Beaucaillou 2014

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With very few major releases left of the 2014 en primeur campaign, one of the wines of the vintage has raised its head above the parapet. Ducru Beaucaillou has released at £745 per case of 12 bottles. Bruno Borie’s pride at his flagship wine was obvious when we entered his discotheque themed cellar a few weeks ago. The pride and enthusiasm was well merited, we were impressed with the concentration of fruit, firm tannins and balance of the 2014. The critics are in full agreement with Neal Martin of the Wine Advocate scoring it 94-96 thus ranking it alongside both Lafite Rothschild and Mouton Rothschild. Antonio Galloni considers Ducru his joint wine of the vintage scoring it 94-97 and James Suckling exclaimed ‘What a wine’ at the end of his tasting note on the way to awarding it 96-97.

The release price signals a 16% increase on the 2013 release and a decrease of 2.5% on 2012. Today’s release price is similar to that of the 95+ scoring 2008, which trades today at £850. The 2014 is also in touching distance of the 97 point scoring 2005, which trades today at £1,600. Such comparisons tell a compelling story, as does Ducru Beaucaillou’s average case price over the last ten years of £1,051 and £894 if you remove 2009 and 2010 as outliers. Ducru Beaucaillou has long been viewed as one of the very best, commanding higher prices to reflect its very high quality.

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La Croix Beaucaillou, the second wine of Ducru Beaucaillou, has also released today for £225 per case of 12 bottles, or £18.75 a bottle. Unlike most second wines which derive from the same vineyards, the vines of La Croix Beaucaillou are grown on the other side of the Route de Vin, separating Beaucaillou from Branaire-Ducru and Gloria . There is little doubt that Ducru Beaucaillou is majestic in 2014, up there with Leoville Las Cases and this quality is found in La Croix, which can be enjoyed at a fraction of the price. 2014 also markes a new label for La Croix Beaucaillou.

Ducru Beaucaillou has now been in the Borie family for three generations, Francis the wise businessman who bought the Estate began to turn around its fortunes, the reputation for quality was re-established. On his death in 1953 his son Jean Eugéne took command and introduced château bottling, invested in a new cellar, increased the density of planting and in 1995 introduced a second label, Le Croix de Beaucaillou. Jean Eugéne also travelled the world promoting Ducru and soon became known as more than Ducru’s representative, but an ambassador for all of Bordeaux around the world.

Jean Eugéne’s son Bruno took over managing Ducru in 2003 and he has brought the wines of Ducru to another level. From the 2003 vintage onward only the vineyards adjacent the chateau, looking over the estuary would be used in Ducru Beaucaillou, production therefore dropped from 20,000 to 10,000 cases a year. This policy though has brought great results; Ducru competes with Las Cases for the title of the finest Super Second of St Julien. Today the wine continues to be dark and purple; it offers complex aromas of cedar, black truffle, tobacco, cassis and spices. The difference in the wines that Bruno is making today is that as well as the poise, elegance and the beauty of classic Ducru the wine now possess the power only found in the past in the finest vintages such as 1982.

Ducru Beaucaillou 2014 - 12×75 – £895? or 6×75 – £TBC EP
The Wine Advocate, Neal Martin, 94-96 points
The Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 2014 is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot that was picked between 25 September and 15 October and matured in 100% new oak as usual. The IPT is 81, the pH 3.81. Compared to recent vintages the nose is more backward, sultry and less explosive although there is still impressive concentration here. It’s just “buttoned down” at present. (A second sample showed a little more sous-bois, more complexity than the first.) The palate is medium-bodied and masculine, a little chalky in the mouth with a firm backbone. Bruno Borie has overseen a more classic Ducru-Beaucaillou, one that I suspect will be less approachable than the last three vintages, boasting a Pauillac-like, graphite-infused finish that just needs to gain a little more persistence during its élevage. This is one wine that actually showed better on my second visit, demonstrating more élan and brio, but nuances notwithstanding, it is another magnificent Ducru-Beaucaillou to add to the roster.
James Suckling, 96-97 points
Stunning aromas of licorice, blackcurrants, minerals, dried rode petals and wet earth. Full body, incredibly intense fruit yet this remains compacted and toned with tannins. Long, long finish. What a wine

La Croix Beaucaillou 2014 - 12×75 – £225 or 6×75 – £112.50 EP

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