The 2021 Ducru-Beaucaillou was picked at around 24hL/ha and matured in 100% new oak for 18 months, as is customary. It takes time to unfold in the glass, revealing intense blackberry, raspberry, iris flowers and a touch of spice. Very precise, though as expected, more understated than previous vintages. The palate is medium-bodied with a sappy, saline entry and good grip. Classic in style, fanning out toward the finish, and briny on the aftertaste. This is a fascinating, almost old-school Ducru-Beaucaillou.
Drink 2028 - 2050
Neal Martin, vinous.com, (May 2022)
Plush depth to the savoury black fruit, with the highest ever level of Cabernet Sauvignon in this wine, and it's a stand out in the vintage. Not the exuberance that you find in the most recent years of Ducru, but it is excellent, with a creaminess to the cassis fruit alongside rose petal and peony aromatics. Sculpted and seductive, with the austere tannins that are a signature of the year. 100% new oak, IPT 100.
Drink 2027 - 2044
Jane Anson, janeanson.com (May 2022)
A wine that will delight Médoc purists, the 2021 Ducru-Beaucaillou is a blend of fully 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Merlot and checks in at a mere 12.5% alcohol. Unwinding in the glass with aromas of dark berries, cigar wrapper, violets, loamy soil and spices, it's full-bodied, layered and velvety, with superb depth at the core, lively acids and powdery tannins. Complete and penetrating, it's a true classic, reminiscent of a modern-day version of Ducru's brilliant 1996—though today's precision winemaking means that the 2021 is unlikely to go through so long a hibernation as that vintage.
William Kelley, Wine Advocate (Apr 2022)
Deep, bright purple hue. Elegant cedar, dark-fruit and cassis nose. Lovely depth of fruit, velvety texture, abundant but polished tannins and lingering freshness. Drives on the finish. A well-groomed thoroughbred. Pure, precise and long and a little more classic than recent years.
Drink 2030 - 2050
James Lawther, jancisrobinson.com (May 2022)
Firm, structured and pure with a cool and solid core of dark currants, blackberries, tar, pencil lead and bitter chocolate. Hints of tobacco, too. Firm but silky tannins. Very pure, with a long, mineral finish. Intense and very focused. 98% cabernet sauvignon and 2% merlot.
James Suckling, jamessuckling.com (May 2022)
About this WINE
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou is a St-Julien property that today is one of the leading Super Seconds. It is owned by the Borie family and is situated in the south-east of the St-Julien appellation. Ducru-Beaucaillou's 50 hectares of vineyards (Cabernet Sauvignon 65%, Merlot 25%, Cabernet Franc 5% and Petit Verdot 5%) lie on deep, large-stone gravel beds enriched with alluvial soil deposits and with a high clay content. The wines are matured in oak barriques (50-60% new) for 18 months.
For many, Ducru-Beaucaillou is the quintessential St-Julien - deep-coloured, powerful, ripe, exquisitely well-balanced and perfectly harmonious. It requires a minimum of 10 years of bottle ageing before it should be approached and the best vintages will continue improving for many more years. Ducru-Beaucaillou is classified as a 2ème Cru Classé.
St Julien is the smallest of the "Big Four" Médoc communes. Although, without any First Growths, St Julien is recognised to be the most consistent of the main communes, with several châteaux turning out impressive wines year after year.
St Julien itself is much more of a village than Pauillac and almost all of the notable properties lie to its south. Its most northerly château is Ch. Léoville Las Cases (whose vineyards actually adjoin those of Latour in Pauillac) but, further south, suitable vineyard land gives way to arable farming and livestock until the Margaux appellation is reached.
The soil is gravelly and finer than that of Pauillac, and without the iron content which gives Pauillac its stature. The homogeneous soils in the vineyards (which extend over a relatively small area of just over 700 hectares) give the commune a unified character.
The wines can be assessed as much by texture as flavour, and there is a sleek, wholesome character to the best. Elegance, harmony and perfect balance and weight, with hints of cassis and cedar, are what epitomise classic St Julien wines. At their very best they combine Margaux’s elegance and refinement with Pauillac’s power and substance.
Ch. Léoville Las Cases produces arguably the most sought-after St Julien, and in any reassessment of the 1855 Classification it would almost certainly warrant being elevated to First Growth status.
Cabernet Sauvignon Blend
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.