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98-99 JAMES SUCKLING: "This is so layered and beautiful with incredible tannin quality. Full-bodied with a caressing texture that reminds me of the finest cashmere. So layered. You want to swallow this. Brings a smile to the face. Wow. So well crafted."
95-98 ANTONIO GALLONI: "The 2018 Ducru-Beaucaillou is a wine of pure and total sensual beauty. Layers of intense fruit nearly cover the massive tannins that lurk beneath. Sweet floral notes, spice, mint, lavender and rose petals all grace a sublime Ducru that is long on class and character. In most recent vintages, Ducru has been a tannic behemoth, but the 2018 is remarkably silky, sumptuous and nuanced. In 2018, Ducru is not an obvious wine, but it is exceptionally beautiful. The 2018 is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot. New oak is 100%. Tasted two times."
98-100 THE WINE CELLAR INSIDER: "Pitch black in color, the wine explodes in the glass with flowers, black fruits, wet earth, rocks, stones and a vintage cigar box from the Hotel Monte Carlo. The depth of fruit and flavor is surreal. The wine has authority. Baskets of red and black pit fruit drench your palate, staining your teeth. It is refined, well-designed and dances on air. This is a contender for the best vintage ever produced at Ducru and that is really saying something considering the incredible run of vintages produced here since 2005. The wine was made from a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot, reaching 14.5% alcohol with a pH of 3.7 and is aging in 100% new, French oak barrels for about 18 months. The harvest took place September 28-October 10. The Grand Vin was made from only 35% of the harvest."
97-100 JEB DUNNUCK: "The grand vin of this terrific estate, the 2018 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou is based on 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot that will spend 18 months in new barrels. It’s as classy as they come, boasting a deep purple/blue color as well as awesome notes of pure crème de cassis, smoke tobacco, crushed rock-like minerality, and violets. Haute couture at its finest, with full-bodied richness, building structure and tannins, and remarkable purity, it’s certainly in the same ballpark as the magical 2016. It will be approachable in just 4-5 years yet keep for 40+."
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.
Report and recommendations for the 2018 Bordeaux vintage
by Andrew Caillard MW
2018 is an exceptional year. Bordeaux whites and Sauternes are very good, but from an Australian perspective, the excitement is all in the red wines. All sub-regions produced examples of very good wines, but some performed better than others. Generally, the largest estates have made exemplary wines illustrating that the human factor and wealth can have a major impact on the terroir! Over the past few weeks I have tasted around 350-400 wines, sometimes in large format forums like UCG tastings or at various châteaux. These days it is difficult to taste wines blind, but color density, aromatic freshness, tannin density and overall balance are obvious indicators. In some cases, I tasted wines a few times, which allowed me to cross references.
The weather until a few days ago was clear with bright sunshine, warm days and a cool breeze. Temperatures have dropped now with more cloud cover and intermittent rain. Driving from Sauternes to St Emilion we passed through some light hail but not enough to cause too many problems. In two weeks, we saw dormant vines and trees come to life. The growing season starts a little early and, of course, people worry about the chance of frost. After the devastating frost episodes of 2017 and the challenges created by hail and mildew in 2018, there is a feeling that climate change could well have an unpredictable impact on future Bordeaux vintages.
We have tasted a good amount of primeur wines now. As usual the vintage will be exaggerated. The growing season was almost calamitous, but long hours of hot sunshine over the summer cleaned everything up and allowed the grapes to ripen very, very well. The colors, flavors, density and acidities are truly impressive and as a result the vintage is generally quite exceptional. It's difficult to truly understand overall crop losses, as growers are naturally quite cagey. But they vary from almost nothing to less than a third. At Ch Climens in Sauternes Barsac, I estimate that the harvest is around 20% of the average. When we know that this area lost its entire harvest in 2017 due to frost, the shock must be keenly felt. Mother Nature has been particularly cruel lately. The growing season story will inevitably create a negative impression, but few people will remember the details in years to come. They will only remember the wine. For some people with long memories, they believe the vintage is like 1947 or 1961. If so, it's not just an exceptional vintage, it's something beyond the norm. An immortal year. The concentration, weight and vitality of the wines are impressive. Despite the incredible density of tannins, saturated colors and flavors, the wines are actually quite easy to taste, indicating remarkable balance and life.
In my opinion, the strongest sub-regions are Pauillac and St Julien – both of which have produced wines of great consistency and classicism. They are powerfully expressive with pronounced ripe tannins and pure fruit flavors. The combination of better microclimatic conditions, wealth and physical resources contributed to the result. Ch Pontet Canet is an exception because of its approach to biodynamic viticulture. It suffered terribly from downy mildew and only produced a third of the harvest. The wine is distinctly different from wines like Ch Latour or Ch Pichon Lalande, but its overall buoyancy and fruit richness are convincing. It also represents something worthwhile and important.
I still think Pauilac is the benchmark for Bordeaux. Typically, the wines are extremely expressive with aromas of pure cedar and fine grainy tannins. This year, the wines are particularly dense and inky with abundant graphite tannins. They are not at all tense or soft and so when the tannins settle in, the wines will be exceptional.
There are many exceptional wines from Pauillac, including Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Ch Pichon Longueville Baron, Ch Lynch Bages, Ch Batailley, Ch d’Armailhac and Ch Grand Puy Lacoste. The premier crus Ch Latour, Ch Mouton Rothschild and Ch Lafite Rothschild are very impressive. Their second wines Les Forts de Latour, Petit Mouton and Carruades are also of very high quality.