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Château Ducru-Beaucaillou Celebrates 300 Years with Exclusive Commemorative Label

Acclaimed Second Growth Château Ducru-Beaucaillou in Saint-Julien celebrates 300 years of exceptional winemaking with its 2020 vintage, marked by an exclusive commemorative label. The ideal conditions of 2020 yielded perfectly ripe and concentrated fruit, albeit with limited volumes, enabling the new technical team to produce wines that are garnering high praises across the globe. To commemorate the Château’s tercentenary, visionary owner Bruno-Eugène Borie commissioned a one-time label, combining the classic and the contemporary, to adorn these fine and rare bottles. The wines will be sold as futures this month in extremely limited quantities.      

A One-Time, Rare Label Created Exclusively for 2020

To celebrate its tercentenary, Ducru-Beaucaillou has reinvented its historic label: an elegant and sophisticated creation, resolutely modern, daringly disruptive, which nevertheless shows allegiance to the past and to the property’s centuries-old values. 

“For us, the creation of an ephemeral label designed for Château Ducru-Beaucaillou’s three hundredth vintage had to be seen as an event in and of itself. It was inspired by a kind of poetic rebirth of Ducru-Beaucaillou’s legendary label, which had remained unchanged since its creation by the Johnstons in 1870. This new design recalls major art movements and techniques of the twentieth century: abstract art, collage, destructured forms, and new realism,” says Owner Bruno-Eugène Borie, a passionate enthusiast for contemporary art.

The 2020 Ducru-Beaucaillou will also feature the tercentenary logo, refined and modern, in orange enameled characters on the shoulder of the bottle which will be topped with an orange wax, the property’s signature color, embossed with the Château’s logo. 

300 Years of Inspiration for this Rising Star

Since 1720, six families have nurtured an indelible bond with Ducru-Beaucaillou: Desjean, Bergeron, Ducru, Johnston, Desbarat de Burcke or Borie. With its privileged terroirs of Günzian gravel soils that rise from the Gironde estuary, the majestic Château Ducru-Beaucaillou has historically been one of the most revered châteaux of Bordeaux. This Grand Cru Classé of Saint Julien has belonged to the Borie family for almost 80 years. Bruno-Eugène is the third generation to oversee operations, taking the helm in 2003, and has raised the quality each vintage through his strive for excellence and visionary approach. Today, the Château is considered amongst the very top of Bordeaux. 

New & Brilliant Technical Duo For A New Era and the 2020 Vintage

With the arrival in 2016 of a new technical team (headed by Emmanuel Bonneau), coupled with the addition of the R&D/Quality Department in 2019 (headed by Cécile Dupuis) for this 2020 vintage, Ducru-Beaucaillou has clearly entered a new era with wines that affirm the refined and unique style of the Château yet with even greater purity, precision, breadth, and depth. 

Perfectly ripened fruit allied with a highly motivated and competent technical team and a visionary leader yielded exceptional wines for the tercentenary vintage. The wines are elegantly perfumed, with a voluptuous cashmere texture, exquisite freshness, precisely chiseled, succulent, and hugely persistent (Cellar Master Note, June 2021). 

Beyond the remarkable quality, Bruno-Eugene Borie added, “the 2020 vintage offers another advantage to consumers, the unlimited capacity for ageing. The precision in the wine extends the drinking window, so that the wines can be enjoyed in their youth without compromising endless ageability.”

A Must-Have for Bordeaux Collectors and Aficionados 

The wines of Château Ducru-Beaucaillou will be sold as futures through fine wine retailers across the US beginning this month. Due to small yields and drastic selection of only the best fruit, quantities are extremely limited. The wines will be carefully matured in casks in the Château cellars, for an exceptional period of 18 months and will be ready for shipping Spring 2023.


2019 Vintage, Forever Vigneron. 

It looks like the 2019 vintage was, once again, a winegrower’s vintage.  
Season after season, this vintage demanded observation, analysis, rigour, advance preparation. The winegrower, at one with nature, before benefiting from the exceptional summer conditions, knew how to deal with the mixed spring weather, how to assess the risks, how to understand the temperament of each plot. 
Without doubt, we can’t say often enough how much talent is brought together in our rows of vines, to work this beautiful material cleanly, sustainably, passionately.

A radiant wine-growing summer after a spring of twists and turns. Excess rainfall in April, fine weather in May, a sharp return to cool temperatures in early June; heatwaves at the end of June and July (and therefore with no risk of sunburn at this stage of the cycle), almost no rain over the whole of the summer and until the end of harvest, very moderate temperatures in August and September (again avoiding the risk of burning exposed berries). 

At the beginning of September, an equally demanding vigil began, monitoring the ripeness of the different grape varieties and each plot. The grapes are tasted continuously at this stage, methodically, vine by vine, then analysed in the laboratory to determine the timing of the harvest, sector by sector. Micromanagement within a single plot in order to gain precision. 


He very good weather in August and September, combined with mild temperatures, allowed the grapes to flourish calmly. At the end of September, when the Merlot offered itself complacently to our secateurs, the Cabernet Sauvignon was still not ready… The light rains on Sunday 22, Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 September restarted the ripening process. At the turn of the month, the Cabernet Sauvignon finally underwent its transformation to excellence. 


The observation is that here, and no doubt better than Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon can cope with these warmer climatic conditions by maintaining a long vegetative cycle: 120 days or more from flowering to full ripening of the grapes. With the IBMP (*) fully broken down, restrained alcohol degrees, acidity in phase, thick skins with extraordinary anthocyanin potential, perfectly ripe seeds, there was no doubt that the potential for excellence was there! Very careful hand picking was complemented by strict inspection of the bunches at the end of the rows and then optical sorting of the berries on arrival in the vat room. The material had to be flawless. 

We obtained superb juices. This vintage, we experimented with a battery of new-generation (“smart”) conical tanks of small size (60/80 hectolitres), allowing us to work very accurately and ultimately to express as closely as possible the identity of each plot in the wine. This precision is found in the blends, which have now reached a remarkable level of precision (less than 0.3%). Each year, decision-support tools are added, both in monitoring the health of the vineyard and in the winemaking and ageing. No stone is left unturned in the pursuit of excellence... to reveal the essence of the terroirs of Ducru-Beaucaillou. 


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.




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.



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.



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.



‘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.


4 different wines with 85 vintages

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