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Millésime 2012  Introduction: Enriched by diversity!

The notion of “vintage” takes on its full meaning in regions where the climatic conditions vary greatly from one year to the next. Elsewhere, the regularity of the climate leads to standardisation of the taste. Here, in Bordeaux, each year has its own originality and its own particular attraction. These are very much part of the charm of Bordeaux wines and arouse the desire to collect vintages one after the other, as witnesses to/ singular illustration of the life of an estate and the climatic conditions to which it is subjected over the years, together with the answers that man has found according to his ambitions, his ethics, his aesthetics, his technical progress and his financial possibilities...like the many facets of a single “beautiful pebble” –“Beau Caillou”!“Uniformity is death – diversity is life»Mikhail Bakounine - 1814-1876 - La Liberté

Climatology of the 2012 Vintage: Happy Ending! A very cold, dry winter, a humid and chilly spring, with here and there unexpectedly

high temperatures - the 2012 Vintage started with mixed weather which lasted until mid-July, until bunch-closure in fact. Throughout the entire vegetative cycle total vigilance was absolutely necessary, together with unfailing and constant presence in the vineyards, to watch out for and contain all fungus attacks (mildew, oïdium, Botrytis) and reduce to a minimum the disparity between bunches, caused by a slow, difficult and protracted flowering. The fine, hot and sunny days of August and those vital ones of September, together with a certain amount of summer drought, allowed the grapes on the best terroirs, and in the perfectly worked vineyards, to attain a fine concentration of sugar and a great richness in their phenolic composition. At the end of the cycle, rain allowed the grapes, whose maturation process had been halted by the drought, to continue to ripen. Just before the picking started, a period of considerable temperature differences between hot days and chilly nights helped to increase both the aromatic intensity and the synthesis of the anthocyanins in the grapes. Thus, after an uncertain start, came a happy ending! In the final analysis we achieved, at the beginning of October, a truly promising potential, which it was vital to preserve by not leaving the bunches on the vines too long.

2012 Vintage: A Revolution on the move!

The entirety of our 150 hectares of vineyards was picked between 28th September forthe young Merlot grapes and 17th October for the last Petits Verdots.

 

2012: Homage to Fan BINGBING! From the completion of the picking and the beginning of the vinification we were seduced by the absolute cleanliness of the musts, their splendid fruitiness and their controlled strengths: in other words, the perfect elegance of the wine of this vintage.Thanks to the unrelenting hard work of our teams, to the beneficial sun at the end of summer and to our technological innovations, which punctuated the entire process, quality has been achieved and we find notably in the wine: bouquets of blackcurrant and violets; superbly silky tannins: perfect balance; excellent length.

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History

Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou is named after the beautiful, large stones found in its unique wine-growing terroir. This exceptional ecosystem produces fine, elegant, tasty wines, with a long finish – in short, archetypal Saint-Julien wines.

Perched on an exceptional site with incomparable views over the Gironde estuary, in the centre of a hundred-year-old park, Ducru-Beaucaillou is a majestic, Victorian-style castle, which has, over time, become one of the great symbols of the Médoc. Unusually for Bordeaux, it is built directly above the barrel cellars, enveloping its owners, who have lived here for over sixty years, in the sumptuous aromas of their wine.

Today, the estate is managed by the company Jean Eugène Borie SA, which is owned by Mrs Borie, her daughter Sabine Coiffe and her son Bruno-Eugène, CEO since 2003, the third generation of the Borie family to head the estate.

There are very close links between this estate and the five families who have been its successive owners.

 

The Bergeron family

The estate’s history starts at the very beginning of the 13th century. Owned by the Bergeron family from 1720, the estate rapidly obtained a good reputation, in France and abroad: as early as this, visitors came from Scandinavia. The Municipal archives in Bordeaux dating from the French Revolution reveal that a sword and pistol were confiscated by the authorities from some Swedes, who were staying in the castle at the time.

 

The Ducru family

The estate was sold in 1795 to Bertrand Ducru who added his name to that of the castle, which then became known as “Ducru-Beaucaillou”. Ducru hired Parisian architect Paul Abadie to renovate the residence. The architect transformed it into a charterhouse in the Directoire style, adding a floor and an elegant façade which looks out over the eastern bank of the Gironde estuary, where, the intense 18th-century maritime traffic provided an animated show of sea-faring ships.

www.chateau-ducru-beaucaillou.comBertrand Ducru also invested heavily in the vineyard over the barrel cellars. The investment paid off when Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou came second in its class at the Bordeaux Wine Classification of 1855. The daughter of Bertrand Ducru, Marie-Louise, married Antoine Ravez, the son of a famous Bordeaux lawyer who was a member of parliament from 1816 to 1829 and junior minister. Legend has it that when he was Speaker of the French parliament, he replaced the glass of water traditionally given to orators with some Ducru-Beaucaillou to honour the wine of his daughter-in-law.

 

The Johnston family

In March 1866, after having owned the estate for seventy-one years, the Ducru family sold the castle to Lucie-Caroline Dassier (1841-1876) for one million francs. She was the wife of the famous Bordeaux wine merchant and earthenware producer, Nathaniel Johnston (1836-1914).

Johnston had inherited the family business set up by his ancestor William, who arrived in Bordeaux in 1743. Descended from the Scottish Hartfield family, the Johnstons, Marquesses of Annandale, had emigrated from Ireland in 1640.

Nathaniel Johnston, a brilliant student, was passionate about the Médoc (he was even elected to represent the area) and in particular his village, Saint-Julien. He was mayor from 1903 to 1908 and built a Protestant church, a hospice and a nursery in the village for the families of his employees. With the help of Ernest David, the innovative estate manager, Nathaniel Johnston restructured the vines and cellars of Ducru-Beaucaillou. He carried out several experiments on varietals and on vine diseases.

In 1878 he and David perfected a blend of copper sulphate and lime milk called the bouillie bordelaise, or Bordeaux soup, an efficient remedy against the terrible mildew that was ravag- ing the vines. This remedy was quickly adopted by all vineyards worldwide.

Two years after the death of his first wife, Lucie-Caroline, Nathaniel married Princess Marie Caradja of Constantinople (1845-1910), the daughter of Prince Constantine of Turkey. Wanting to make Ducru-Beaucaillou as beautiful as its wines, the pair called on architect Michel-Louis Garros, a native of Barsac in the Gironde, graduate of the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and winner of the Prix d’Architecture in 1887). Garros built two Victorian towers on the northern and southern flanks of the former charterhouse and added two wings to give the building a more harmonious and majestic U shape.

Garros redesigned the castle’s general layout and decorated all the reception rooms in luxuri- ous Victorian style.

As exoticism was very fashionable at the time, but also perhaps to alleviate Maria Caradja’s homesickness during the long hard winter, Garros built a beautiful large conservatory the length of the north wing, on the left of the main courtyard, facing a hedge of sumptuous camellias, and filled the park with groves and palm trees.

 

 On the eastern façade, he also designed a landscaped park with 3 levels of terraces descending progressively towards the Gironde, where the English lawn and flowerbeds gave way gradually to larger, rarer species and complementary foliage. Tiny original gardens with charming follies were interspersed at regular intervals along the alleyways, providing walkers with restful stopping places.

A large area was reserved on the left-hand side of the park for the garden. Surrounded by white walls covered in black tiles, supporting espaliered pear trees and trellises of dessert grapes, this garden housed the glasshouses and cold frames which provided plants and flowers for the park and vegetables for the kitchen. There was also an orchard and even a watercress bed. A remarkable horseshoe-shaped building was erected, housing stables, cowsheds, garages and workshops on the ground floor, and staff accommodation and haylofts on the first floor. Thus increased in size, Ducru-Beaucaillou became a symbolic site on the D2, the mythical ‘Route des chateaux’, known to wine-connoisseurs worldwide.

Sixty-three years after they purchased the castle, the heartbroken Johnstons were forced to sell Beaucaillou during the economic crash of 1929. They retained a profound and sincere attachment to this estate, so much so that the daughter of Nathaniel Johnston and Princess Marie Caradja, Fannie Catherine Johnston, who was born in Beaucaillou, asked to be buried on her death in 1971, in the cemetery of Saint-Julien, so that she could stay within sight of her beloved Ducru-Beaucaillou.

 

The Desbarats family

Johnston sold to Desbarats, a wine merchant from the Médoc who had married a Miss Burke from a powerful Irish family. After trying to combat the catastrophic consequences of the 1929 crash and the French defeat in 1939, and after several bad harvests and serious disagreements with his son-in-law, Desbarats sold Beaucaillou, after only twelve years, to Francis Borie, a wine merchant from Corrèze, who already owned vineyards in the neighbouring town of Pauillac.

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Vineyards

While the overall climate of the Médoc region is influenced by the Atlantic, each area has, of course, its own characteristics. For better quality, the winemaker needs to focus : - on the specific macro-climate of each plot, which contributes to the concept of terroir (or climat as it is known in other wine-growing regions). - He also has to focus on the micro-climate at the level of the vine stock, which itself depends on wine-growing practices.

 

The nearby Gironde protects and moderates the climate and all agree that “those who have a view over the estuary” have the best climate for making exceptional wines. The huge quantities of water moved by twice-daily tides make the local climate more temperate: warmer in winter, colder in summer. In this broad estuary, which stretches to almost 4 miles at this point, huge masses of air are moved, contributing to the temperate climate. Here, near the Gironde, local wine-makers are spared much frost and hailstorms.

 

On 21 April 1991, when 70% of the Bordeaux harvest was destroyed by a hard morning frost, only 30% was lost in those vineyards located on the banks of the estuary, including Ducru-Beaucaillou.

Similarly hailstones, the curse of all European wine-makers, are quite rare here, generally preferring the line from the forests along the Atlantic Ocean to the most westerly vineyards of Médoc, or crossing the river to assail the east bank of the estuary, towards the slopes of Blaye and Bourg. However, on 15 July 2003, the plateau of Beaucaillou and two other crus on the estuary at Saint-Julien and Pauillac lost 25-30% of their harvests.

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Winemaking

Maturity is closely monitored in each plot from the beginning of August. A harvest calendar is determined the week before the harvest and amended daily to ensure each plot is harvested at full maturity and under optimal conditions.

All grapes are hand-picked. The sorting process, which consists of eliminating leaves and substandard grapes accidentally picked, takes place on mobile tables in the vineyard, to keep them separate from healthy grapes during their trip to the vat.

After suitable destalking and pressing (varying according to harvest, varietals and plot), each batch of must is individually fermented using traditional techniques: fermentation temperature, duration, intensity and frequency of pumping over is determined individually for each vat, which contains only grapes from one specific plot.

 

The vinification process must be carried out with the utmost attention to hygiene and cleanliness: to produce one litre of wine, five to seven litres of water will be needed. The water used is sent to the treatment works in Saint-Julien, the only one in the Médoc, set up on the initiative of local castle owners in 2000.

The wine-making process changes from year to year, depending on the grape harvest. The must (juice, skin and pips) starts to ferment at between 28° and 30° (82°-86°F) for grapes from old vines and at slightly lower temperatures for younger plots. Alcoholic fermentation generally takes about 2 weeks, during which time the must 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 finished when all the sugar has been turned into alcohol. From then on, we stop pumping over and leave the wine to macerate about one week longer.

 

Origins

‘Appellation d’origine contrôlée’ of Saint-Julien‘Grand cru classé’ in 1855 The origins of Château Ducru-Beaucaillou lie in the 18th century, specifically 1720. It owes its name to the ‘beautiful large pebbles / stones’ that characterise its terroir, which offers exceptional wine-making conditions that translate into the finesse and elegance of its wines.

Like the greatest of the ‘grands crus classés’ that stretch along the estuary from Margaux in the south to Saint-Estèphe in the north, this estate is perched on a splendid Médoc site with incomparable views over the Gironde.It is one of the only castles in Bordeaux to be built over its cellars, and one of the few estates producing a ‘grand cru classé’ still inhabited by its owners. The Borie family has owned this estate for over sixty years. Jean-Eugène Borie SA runs the estate which belongs to Mrs Jean-Eugène Borie, her daughter Sabine Coiffe and her son Bruno Eugène (Chairman of the Board).

 

Terroir: the oenologist’s notes

The topography and geology of the terroir of Ducru-Beaucaillou is quite remarkable in many ways and is highly suited to the production of great wines. Moreover, its immediate proximity to the Gironde estuary plays a key role in the microclimate of this vineyard. The huge amount of water moved by the tides four times a day act as air—conditioners providing heat in winter and coolness in summer. In this vast estuary (which stretches to almost 4 miles at this point), huge masses of air are moved, contributing to the temperate climate and generally sparing the local vineyards the ravages of frost (like in 1991) and hailstorms (with the historic exception of 2003).

The communal terroir of Saint-Julien (800 hectares) is characterised by a layer of Garonne, or Günz, gravel dating from the early Quaternary period. This gravel is blown by the wind from east to west, ending up as tiny white gravel stones and sand on the western side of the area coming under the appellation.

The 75-hectare vineyard of Ducru-Beaucaillou lies on the eastern edge of this great communal terroir, near the river and among the deepest layers of Quaternary gravel stones.

www.chateau-ducru-beaucaillou.com    1The advantages offered by the stones include: enhancing drainage of the soil, reflecting sunlight onto the closely planted grapes, storing daytime heat to recycle it at night, and forming a protective layer that stops the ground from drying out during summer heat waves and other dry periods.

 

The vineyard: the wine-maker’s opinion

Ducru-Beaucaillou’s 75 hectares are planted with 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot Noir.    The average age of the vines is 35. Over time, fertility is moderated and a root network develops (reaching up to 6 metres deep), both reducing the effect of climatic excess and increasing the take-up of nutrients from the soil and subsoil. Meticulously exploring the poor, arid soil to find the necessary nutrients and water, the roots carry back the trace elements which give the wine its uniqueness: this is the essence of the terroir of Ducru-Beaucaillou. The high plantation density (10,000 vines per ha.) has many advantages. It reduces the production of each plant while creating competition between the vines that will search deeper down into the soil to find their nutriment ("vines must suffer in order to produce"). It also generates a microclimate with many an advantage: - Maximizing the leaf surface per hectare and therefore the rainwater consumption which are

particularly profuse in our Atlantic climate - Creating ideal conditions for the grapes La conduite du vignoble, tout en étant traditionnelle (taille médocaine double Guyot etc.) intègre les derniers progrès de la viticulture (effeuillage manuel, vendanges en vert en été etc.). Bref, la tétralogie est ici : gestion parcellaire, rendements maîtrisés, durée de vie des ceps optimisée et traitements phytosanitaires raisonnés.

 

The wine-making process: the cellar master’s opinion

The grapes are all harvested manually. They are sorted in the vines on mobile tables to avoid contact between unhealthy and healthy grapes during transport to the vat room.The vinification of each plot is done individually to optimise the choice of blends. Moreover, the fermentations are carried out separately and customized to take account of terroir, grape variety and vintage characteristics. We generally operate gentle extraction and keep the must at traditional temperatures with moderate lengths and frequencies of pumping-over.The press drains off continuously into barrels to facilitate the selection of the press-wine batches. Malolactic fermentation is managed in vats for optimal control.

The wine is barrelled in duly identified individual batches immediately after malolactic fermentation. Blending takes place during the first racking operation; for Ducru Beaucaillou, between 50 and 80% of new barrels are used according to the richness of the vintage. The barrels (225L Bordeaux barrels, French oak) are supplied by 5 carefully selected cooperages giving every guarantee. The wine is matured for 18 months in accordance with Medoc traditions for classified growths. Bottling is performed with special care in regard to both oenological controls and homogenisation of the overall batch. The 5 cork makers supplying the estate have signed a detailed and stringent quality charter.

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Wolfgang Anke, Wine Collector (United Kingdom)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  5 wines 

Nice mix with 2 french sweets, 1 italian sweet, a french claret and a brunello.

1m 16d ago

 Andrew Caillard MW, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  126 wines 

Every now and again one stumbles across a paradox that confounds the accepted natural order of things. The 2016 Bordeaux vintage was born out of a growing season that was near-catastrophe and near-perfection. After the Hesperian Dragon’s relentless torment, the Titan God Atlas had seemingly kept the sky aloft with the help of a Phoenix. Following five months of diabolical weather patterns, a warm to hot dry summer arrived in the nick of time, not only saving a vintage, but creating one of the most spectacular vintages in a lifetime.


 The sense of relief in Bordeaux must have been as thrilling as avoiding the bullet of Russian Roulette, or the adrenalin of surviving a base-jump. The razor’s edge has never been so exquisitely fine. While the end result is not always perfect, with the odd abrasions here and there, the overall quality of the 2016 Bordeaux vintage is remarkably consistent with many Chateaux making some of their best wines in 50 years. Typically, the wines have deep colours, pure fruit aromatics, generous saturated flavours, dense rich tannin structures and bell clear acidities. Precision, freshness, elegance, smoothness and “delicate opulence” are words that are being used by various Chateaux to describe their wines.


 The Bordelais are, of course, the world’s greatest spin doctors. They leave snake charmers for dead when it comes to the art of mesmerising. The newly opened and impressive Cité du Vin, which sits on the banks of the Garonne River in Bordeaux, sparkles like a polished turd; a monument to the exaggerations and optimism of this particular type of fine wine game. Momentum is achieved through belief. There is no room for wavering or self-doubt.

4m 22h ago

 Jeannie Cho Lee MW, Pro (China)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  30 wines 

My TOP 30 wines of the Bordeaux 2016 vintage.

4m 4d ago

 Markus Del Monego MW / Best Sommelier in the World 1998, MW (Germany)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  272 wines 

BORDEAUX VINTAGE 2016 / Tasting "en primeur" is a challenge every year. The wines tasted are showing a tendency only and it is still the beginning of a longer process of evolution and maturation in the barrels. There might be some changes during the next year and a half until the wines will be bottled, but already today the tendency is quite clear. For most of the red wines it will be an outstanding vintage, a vintage for Cabernet, old vines, limestone and clay soil. It was a challenging year for the vintners. An incredibly wet spring was worrying the winegrowers and at the beginning of June, the spirits were down. However warm and dry weather between June 3 and June 11 creating an close to ideal situation for the flowering and good weather conditions starting in mid June changed the nature of the vintage. The fine weather continued into July and August. The month of August was featuring hot weather and a remarkable amount of sunshine but the absence of rain let to water stress. Heavy rain in mid September set an end to water stress and when the sun returned on September 20 the vintage was saved as there was excellent weather till to the end of the harvest. The effects were various. the white wines are on a good quality level and display fruit and flavour but the acidity is lower than in previous vintages and the white wines show an opulent and rather soft style. The noble sweet wines are extremely pure and are more on the rich and powerful side than on the freshness. For the red wines originating from the right terroirs and old vines, the vintage an be called outstanding. Water stress was managed well on limestone and clay terroirs, Cabernet varieties did extremely well and old vines found water even during the stressful dry periods of summer. In some few red wines the tannins are slightly harsh, almost bitter, a result of water stress and/or intense extraction. In general the red wines are on an excellent level with an advantage for the left bank, mainly the Médoc area, and the classic great terroirs of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. 

4m 7d ago

 Christer Byklum / Leading Scandinavian wine blogger, Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  64 wines 

98 wines tasted from Pomerol 2016 vintage, a stunning vintage for the appelation. Petrus might be the wine of the vintage, such finesse! But many others as well. Le Pin, La Conseillante, Clinet, Gazin, Petit Village, Lafleur, L'Evangile, VCC, La Fleur-Pétrus, Trotanoy, L'Eglise-Clinet and many more made stunning wines. Gazin made the best wine they ever did, same with Nenin. Pomerols are beyond seductive in 2016.

4m 14d ago

 Edward Cuvée, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  16 wines 

some october tasted wines.

7m 12d ago

 Michael Jones, Wine Blogger (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  8 wines 

Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 1961 was opened and decanted 20 minutes before we began. The fading brick red color gave away the wine’s age. It offered an surprisingly robust, perfumed nose. A little sweet fruit framed by plenty of spice, earth and leather. Later on, tobacco notes emerged and eventually dominated. On the palate, the wine was a silky seductress, showing black cherry fruit entwined with spice, leather and a bit of earthy ‘barnyard’. Very silky and smooth with surprising body. It held up well even after two hours of air time. It might have lasted longer too, but I couldn’t keep my hands off the glass! Remarkable balance. It had all the elements in seamless glory. A classic mature Bordeaux. Very, very special.

7m 22d ago

 Jan-Erik Paulson, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  16 wines 

I had the great pleasure to attend one of the greatest wine dinners of my life. The topic was 1961 Bordeaux- for me the most complete vintage ever. To the 25 best wines of that vintage were 5 other wines served blind - all from the sixties. The dinner was finished with the most impressive Port I ever had - the brilliant 1963 Quinta do Noval Nacional.



I rarely award 100 points to a wine but here I did it for Ausone, Mouton Rothschild, Haut Brion, Margaux, Trotanoy, Lafleur, La Mission Haut Brion, 1968 Martha's Vineyard, 1961 Hermitage La Chapelle and 1963 Quinta do Noval Nacional. Thank you Robert for an unbelievable evening with the nicest of guests, a fantastic dinner at the marvelous Hotel Königshof in Munich. The wine service was, as always, impeccable led by the star sommelier Stephane Thuriot.

8m 7d ago

 Achim Becker / Wineterminator.com, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  29 wines 

The tasting of the year - Vintage 1961 - 11 wines got full 100 points!

8m 19d ago

 Fernando Pessoa, Pro (Spain)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  50 wines 

The Annual Union des Grands Crus Tasting in London - Bordeaux Vintage 2014 - My TOP 50.

9m 9d ago

 John Kapon / CEO / Ackerr Merrall & Condit, Pro (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  39 wines 

I was invited to dine at Da Marco’s, where ten locals had congregated with an assortment of fine wines and company. We started with a couple bottles of 1985 Krug, which got the party started, but I didn’t take any notes.


The notes began with a trio of 2005 Niellons, starting with the Clos St. Jean, which was smoky, toasty with lots of rocks, minerals and ‘gaspipe.’ It was round but balanced, lacking a touch of definition (90). The Les Chaumees was simpler and easier, just OK, not as interesting as the Clos St. Jean (87). The Les Vergers had the biggest finish and the most acidity. It was brighter and the most intense of the three (91).

9m 9d ago

 Dylan O'Brien / Sommelier, Pro (Ireland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  36 wines 

Bordeaux left bank vintage 2012 tasting.

10m 3d ago

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