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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 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.
94 points Wine Enthusiast
*Cellar Selection* Despite the huge weight of fruit and accompanying structure, this is a stylish wine. It’s impressively dense, concentrated and solid. At the same time, the juicy black fruits give a generous, full-in-the-mouth character. Drink this very fine wine from 2022. (5/ 2014)
94 points Wine Spectator
This is rather well-endowed for the vintage, with thickly layered ganache, currant paste, fig sauce and blackberry confiture notes still grappling with one another, while briary grip and dark spice fill out the toast-fueled finish. Very long, showing a level of power that belies the vintage. Best from 2018 through 2028. (3/ 2014)
93 points James Suckling
This shows excellent aromas of crushed berries, minerals and roses. Full body with silky, balanced tannins. Fruity and reserved. Shows wonderful finesse for the Médoc in 2011. Better after 2018. (2/ 2014)
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2011 Ducru Beaucaillou (which normally represents 1/3 to ½ of the entire crop) possesses a dense ruby/purple color along with a beautiful nose of sweet creme de cassis, crushed rock and spring flower aromas. This rich, medium to full-bodied St.-Julien is among the most concentrated wines of the Medoc. Moderate tannin is sweet and well-integrated. This beauty will benefit from 3-5 years of cellaring and keep for two decades. 92+ (RP) (4/ 2014)
91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Inky ruby. Laid-back aromas of dark berries, black cherry and herbs, with a subtle note of violet. Clean and bright in the mouth, with taut blackcurrant and dark cherry flavors picking up sweetness with air. The flinty black cherry note repeats on the finish, which features a subtle floral pastille quality and very good persistence. I like this wine's understated character, but I wish it had a little more flesh and sweetness for an even higher score. (8/ 2014)
Smallest Ducru harvest in the last 25 years, with 25% of the fruit that appeared in April/May eliminated. A vintage Bruno Borie likens to Nicole Kidman (cf Beyoncé in 2009). 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot. 95% new oak. pH 3.6. Deep dark cherry crimson. Seductive fruit on the nose. Warm and dry and the tannins have great finesse and zero dryness. Puts the many dry Margaux tasted this morning into perspective. Dense but really supple and has a juicy flourish on the finish. Long. And very pure cassis through the middle. 17.5/20 points. (4/ 2012)
A VERY SERIOUS &HIGH-CLASS WINE!
2011: A CHAOTIC CLIMATE
Winter 2010-2011: This year again, winter was dry, one of the driest in the decade. The winter chill was indeed present from December to February... for the benefit of our ecosystem.
Spring 2010-2011: The sharp rise in temperature in March resulted in an early budding of the vines at the beginning of April. Then, Bordeaux enjoyed a quite exceptional spring from April to June, with a severe drought and historically high temperatures. We thus experienced 40 days with maximum temperatures exceeding 25°C and a heat wave (with temperatures of 37 to 39°C i.e. +/- 100°F) on the 26th and 27th of June.
At first, the spring conditions • promoted a precocious growth cycle (budding, flowering, fruit setting) • limited the vegetative expression of the vines in favour of the fruits.
In summer, however, we returned to more traditional Atlantic conditions with a few wet and cool days between the 14th July and the 15th August. Ultimately, rains, throughout, the cycle remained within the seasonal average for Bordeaux.
An important fact: if, at the outset of summer, the vegetal cycle was three weeks ahead in comparison with 2010, the mediocre weather conditionsat midsummer slowed down the process and erased much of the precocity acquired in the spring. This extension of the cycle was an undeniable qualitative element.
Careful, surgical and constant manual care provided by our teams toour vines throughout the cycle (rigorous pruning, draconian green and pink harvest, precise leaf-pulling) resulted in:
• the complete elimination of berries scalded by the extreme heat of late June
• the reduction of much of the heterogeneity due to the slow maturing of the grapes
• an optimal exposure of grapes on the trellis and optimally aerated clusters favouring:
+ Full ripening of the berries + Resistance to botrytis at end of cycle
2011 Vintage report ‐ 2 ‐
2011: care bestowed upon the harvest
The harvest of the older Merlot plots of Beaucaillou began on the 15th September while those of young vines of Lalande-Borie began ten days earlier, on the 5th September.
Our 150 pickers were divided into three teams of 50 ; each team with one sorting table in the field, attended by six people.
Of first importance this year, the selection process started in the summer and was carried on throughout the whole harvesting process: pickers instructed to eliminate defective clusters at the time of the harvest; team motivation in the vineyards at the sorting tables and finally the strict setting of our optical sorting table in the winery.
A novelty at Ducru Beaucaillou: an optical sorting table coupled with a 3D camera allowing a drastic final selection based on multiple criteria (size, shape and colour).
Ultimately, more than 25% of the grapes that appeared on the vines in April / May were eliminated, resulting in the smallest Ducru-Beaucaillou harvest in the last 25 years (even less than in 2003, when we were beset by drought, heat and hail storms).
This “hyper selection” resulted in: · a very healthy harvest and perfect homogeneity of the grapes, · ripe and perfectly matured skins,
thatfavoured a qualitative extraction of tannins during the vinification process.
We ended the picking of the Merlots on the 16th September and started the Cabernet Sauvignon on the 18th September. Clusters were quite small but perfectly ripe, healthy and very tasty!
2011: ultimately a great wine!
This small crop of beautiful and tasty grapes was processed with a view to achieve optimal extraction (qualitative / quantitative). Finally, in all our wines, the level of anthocyanins is exceptional and the IPT very high (both comparable to these of 2009 or 2010).
Compleate Bordeaux 2011 Vintage Report: 2011 is a dangerous vintage
“2011 is a dangerous vintage. We lived through draught, rain and a lot of sun, all in that order. The draught did not impact our vineyard very much, because we have different terroirs. With each terroir, we performed specific work in the vineyards and we were lucky in our choices. The entire Right Bank of Bordeaux seems to be a success so far and yes, this includes not just St. Emilion, but Pomerol as well. From my recent tastings, 2011 Bordeaux seems to be a mix of two Bordeaux vintages; 2007 for the smoothness and 2009 for the maturity and sucrosité” says Jean Luc Thunevin.
In 1989, Jean-Luc Thunevin and Murielle Andraud bought a small 0.6 hectare plot of vines with the dream of making great St. Emilion wine! The name of the estate is personal. Valandraud is a combination of its location and something more meaningful. The Val comes from Vallon de Fongaban. The second part, Andraud is Murielle’s maiden name.
Things have changed at the estate since its birth. With more land and more importantly, the Bordeaux wine of Valandraud is made entirely by Murielle. 2007 was the first vintage that allowed Murielle to call the shots for the wine making. This was a good move.
2009 Valandraud and 2010 Valandraud are two of the finest efforts from this unique, Bordeaux wine producer. The current 2011 vintage marks the 20th vintage for Valandraud as their first effort was the 1991 Valandraud.
Jean-Luc Thunevin: “We waited patiently, waited for our grapes to reach the right concentration before harvesting. We started on September 7 and managed to finish October 13. This is about two weeks earlier than usual. We normally start about September 20.
2011 Bordeaux is about sorting, sorting and more sorting. We sorted in the vineyards and in the cellars. Since the 2007 vintage, we have been using the Tribaie sorting machine, which allows helps us remove more of the bad grapes based on levels of sugar concentration in the berries. The machine performs densimetric sorting which is based on the desired levels of ripeness and sugar levels”.
The earliest harvest on record since 1893
Chateau Lafite Rothschild started to harvest Cabernet Sauvignon in their northern most parcels, located not far from Chateau Cos d’Estournel, Friday, September 2. 2011. This is on one of the earliest harvests on record for the property. You’ll be reading quotes from many Bordeaux wine producers that 2011 Bordeaux, for many chateaux will be their earliest harvest on record since 1893! However, growers situated in some parts of Bordeaux have moved up their time tables are harvesting even earlier than they previously expected.
Due to the massive, freak, hail and rain in barrage the Northern Medoc, centered near the Pauillac , St. Estephe border, to avoid possible problems with the onset rot, many chateau in that vicinity have decided to start picking earlier than they had originally planned on. The most notable property is the famed First Growth, Chateau Lafite Rothschild. It is possible that the storm, which dropped over a massive, half inch of rain in a twenty minute period caused some flooding to the cellars of Lafite Rothschild.
“With our 2011 harvest, we harvested earlier because the growing of the vines was earlier than usual, due to the very hot spring. But the weather conditions of maturation in summer were fresh and cool, so the wine is of a cooler style than a late vintage. The nice weather conditions at the end of August and September were very good for phenolic ripeness”. Fabien Teitgen from Château Smith haut Lafitte.
The 2011 vintage is not simple to handle.
Smith Haut Lafitte is not only making great white and red Bordeaux wine in Pessac Leognan, they are at the forefront with technology as well. They were one of first Bordeaux wine producers to begin using Optical Sorting, which came in handy with the difficult 2011 Bordeaux harvest. Fabien Teitgen, the long-time managing director joined us for a long, detailed conversation on what took place at Smith Haut Lafitte for the 2011 Bordeaux vintage.
“To my mind, 2011 is balanced with low pH and medium alcohol. So for those who picked at the right time, their wines will be balanced, with a good concentration and a good freshness. This vintage is not so simple to handle.”
Chateau Cos d’Estournel, St. Estephe, started their 2011 Bordeaux harvest, Monday, September 5.
Jean Guillaume Prats told us, 2011 set a modern day record for an early start to their harvest at Chateau Cos d’Estournel. He added, “This was the estates second earliest harvest on record. To find an earlier date, we needed to back to 1893!” While the specific date to start picking was not set in stone, the original plan was not to begin their Bordeaux harvest on September 5. But due to a ferocious storm that swept through the area, 2011 Bordeaux Harvest Massive Storm Slams the Northern Medoc, any hope of waiting went out the window. “We initially planned to start about September 9, with the young vines. After the storm, we gave ourselves the time over the weekend to assess the situation and make the appropriate decision: Waiting and see how it will develop in the days to come depending on weather. We are “lucky” this vintage is extremely early. The damages in terms of phenolic ripeness of the grapes should be very minor. If this was a later year, like 2008, 2009, or 2010, the effects would be much worse.
The day starts before the sun rises
Chateau Haut Brion and Chateau La Mission Haut Brion started harvesting their young vine Merlot, August 29. This is early for the First Growth estate. To give you an idea of how early, in 2010, Haut Brion started to pick their young Merlot vines, September 8. In that vintage, harvesting continued until October 9.
Between the two Pessac Leognan properties, with red and white grapes to pick, they have a busy schedule. The harvesters begin their day working on the grapes for their Bordeaux white wine, often starting their day before the sun rises.
Jean-Philippe Delmas explains why they harvest in the early morning: “The purpose of picking the white grapes early in the morning is to ensure the fruit remains cool. This helps the berries to retain their unique, fresh aromas. This year, we picked our white grapes between 7am and noon. The reason is, by that time of day, the skins are dry. None of the dew from the night is remaining.”
Since Patrick Maroteaux purchased Chateau Branaire Ducru in 1988, he has been on a mission to produce the best wine possible from this Fourth Growth estate. While 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2009 are all potential candidates for the best wine yet from Branaire Ducru, I’m willing to place a bet the 2010 turns out to be his strongest wine yet. What about 2011 Branaire? Where does the most recent vintage stand? Patrick Maroteaux fills us in. “We will produce a rather powerful and colorful vintage due to the low ratio between the juice and the skin. So far the tannins seem rather approachable and elegant. The complexity of the structure will probably not be at the same level as the 2009 and 2010 vintages. We can position the 2011 vintage in the category of the very serious wines. We now know for sure that this vintage will show a very interesting balance”.