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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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4 different wines with 65 vintages

Highlights

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Wine Moments

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

 Boire du Bon, Wine Blogger (France)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  5 wines 

Haut Brion 1971 : very dark, earthy, showing tobacco, moka. 


This wine needs air to developp

20d 21h ago

 Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  24 wines 

Gaja Sori Tildin 2017 / Coming from a warmer, south-facing site, the 2016 Barbaresco Sori Tildin is a more concentrated, vibrant wine compared to the straight Barbaresco and has vivid notes of bright cherry fruits, rose petals, road tar, violets and even a hint of orange blossom. Incredible on the palate, with medium to full body, an incredible, seamless texture, ultra-fine tannins, and a monster finish. The tannins here are unquestionably on another level and are perfectly ripe, and this just about off-the-charts 2016 has a Grand Cru Red Burgundy-like texture, elegance, and stature. This bottle didn't hit prime time until the second day, so either give bottles a healthy decant or, even better, 5-7 years in a cold cellar.

2m 8d ago

 Christer Byklum , Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  22 wines 

1964 Chateau Latour;Dark ruby, brick rim. B/C level fill, soaked cork. Liquorice, sweet tobacco, hay, some blackcurrants, gorgeous nose, some ripe tannins still, fresh acidity, quite intence, extremelly complex, almost at such a degree, that you can't decipher it all, perfect structure, truly impressive, and exceptionaly long finish. 96

3m 10d ago

 Markus Del Monego MW , Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  6 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  6 wines 

For 300 years, six families have nurtured an indelible bond with Château Ducru-Beaucaillou. They are forever captives of this prestigious estate, be the y named Desjean, Bergeron, Ducru, Johnston, Desbarat or Borie. Château Ducru-Beaucaillou woes it name to its "beautiful pebbles", that geologists refer to as Günzian gravel. They form the unique terroir of this Château which celebrates its 300th anniversary this year. For this occasion, Bruno-Eugène Borie invited 90 members of the Commanderie the Bordeaux in Germany to participate in a Zoom-tasting, featuring some excellent vintages.

3m 27d ago

 Jeannie Cho Lee MW, Wine Writer (South Korea)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  20 wines 

2011 Quintorelli Giusseppe Amarone della Valpolicella Classico – A lighter more elegant Amarone that is beautifully composed, well balanced with a lingering finish. The magic of this wine is the lightness which belies its intensity and concentration. Long finish with layers of floral notes that surfaces at the end.

4m 29d ago

 Izak Litwar , Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  50 wines 

BORDEAUX 2019 / Ch. Margaux 2019 - only 37% of the whole production into Grand Vin. 90% Cabernet Sauvignon + 7% Merlot + 2% Cabernet Franc + 1% Petit Verdot, 14.9% alcohol. Ch. Margaux' technical director, Philippe Bascaules, told me, that Merlot needed to be vinified gently due to its voluptuousness and high alcohol. He made a comparison between 2018 and 2019 Grand Vin - "when I taste 2018 Ch. Margaux, I taste 2018 vintage first, then Ch. Margaux. When I taste 2019 Ch. Margaux, it's Ch.  Margaux first, then 2019 vintage!"
It's a showcase of Cabernet Sauvignon with wonderful aromas of cigar box and tobacco leaves. Extremely elegant and multi-faceted, sophisticated and very stylish for the property. Exceptional complexity and purity. Liquid silk. True perfection here! 99-100p. 

9m 4d ago

 Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  7 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  25 wines 

Château Suduiraut 2019 /Composed of 94% Semillon and 6% Sauvignon Blanc harvested from the 17th of September to the 30th of October (three selective pickings in total), the 2019 Suduiraut is aging for 16-20 months in French oak barrels, 50% new. The alcohol came in at 14.1% with 130 grams per liter of residual sugar. Pale to medium lemon-gold colored, the nose is oh-so-tantalizing with intense notes of candied ginger, beeswax, fenugreek and crystalized citrus peel over a core of pineapple upside-down cake, honey coated almonds, pink grapefruit and peach preserves with a waft of musk perfume. The rich, concentrated palate explodes with spicy fireworks in the mouth, complementing the the exotic fruit and peach preserves layers, with a racy line to lend just enough lift, finishing with epic length and depth. 94-96 points

9m 22d ago

 Markus Del Monego MW , Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  4 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  4 wines 

The Webinar with Château Ducru Beaucaillou was featuring a new wine - Madame de Beaucaillou - which is a Haut-Médoc bringing together different vineyards of the Borie family. In addition, the new label of La Croix Ducru Beaucaillou was presented. A highly interesting session.

10m 15d ago

 Neal Martin, Wine Writer (United Kingdom)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  25 wines 

The 1961 Palmer is a wine that tends to deliver upon its gargantuan reputation and we were rewarded with an exemplary bottle here. It has a clear colour with modest bricking on the rim. The bouquet is difficult to encapsulate into words – utterly ethereal. Heavenly definition, almost Burgundy-like in purity with traces of pencil box and pressed violets. It grows in stature with each swirl of the glass and leaves you transfixed. The palate is bestowed beguiling balanced, almost symmetrical, framed by filigree tannin and pitch perfect acidity. Like the aromatics it coheres with aeration, the fruit undiminished by time even if it is no blockbuster. Quite the opposite – this 1961 Palmer is the apotheosis of finesse with just a hint of balsamic on the aftertaste. This Margaux can bring you to tears of joy. Tasted at the 1961 dinner Chairman Miaow’s in Hong Kong.

1y 1m ago

 Christer Byklum , Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  26 wines 

Opus One 2008 / Deep ruby, youthful, cassis, coffee, blueberries. Softer texture, feels very elegant even as it is so young, fresh acidity, ripe tannins, balanced, long length. 94

1y 1m ago

 Stuart Pigott, Wine Writer (United Kingdom)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  22 wines 

Château Haut Brion 2009 / Extravagant and exotic, but still lively, this is a super-concentrated and elegant wine that's already breathtaking, yet has enormous aging potential. Plenty of wet earth and mushroom character alongside the cassis and blackberry aromas. Super-long, perfectly balanced finish. Drink or hold. (Horizontal Tasting, London, 2019) 100 points

1y 4m ago

 Jeff Leve, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Ducru-Beaucaillou . In a tasting of  14 wines 

Bordeaux has been on a hot roll lately. Think about it. 2005, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2016, 2018 and who knows, even though it is early, 2019 is also looking good!
Each vintage has its own mark, its individual sense of identity and uniqueness of character. 2016 Bordeaux is such a great vintage!  Consider this. Out of all those above-named vintages, there are 2016 wines better than you find in any of those years. And that is really saying something!
In 2016, like in all great years, every appellation produced beautiful wines, and each has its own stars. You can find fabulous wines on both banks and in all price ranges. The Petit Chateaux are superb. Right Bank wines are gorgeous and some of the best wines from the Medoc are potentially the best-ever from their respective vineyards.
2016 has it all. The wines combine concentration of flavor, purity of fruit, zesty acidity, ripe tannins, power, elegance, refinement and richness. The aromatics are complex, and the length and mouthfeel go on and on. The best wines offer the ability to age and evolve for decades!
2016 is the most recent bottled vintage in Bordeaux. The wines are currently available to consumers. If you are seeking to enjoy the best of the best, this article is for you.
During both tasting trips to Bordeaux this year, I tasted close to 500 recently bottled 2016 wines. These are the top 25 wines of the vintage.

1y 4m ago

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