2023 Château Branaire-Ducru, St Julien, Bordeaux

2023 Château Branaire-Ducru, St Julien, Bordeaux

Product: 20238003230
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2023 Château Branaire-Ducru, St Julien, Bordeaux

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Description

Blend: 60% Cabernet Sauvignon; 30% Merlot; 5.5% Cabernet Franc; 3.5% Petit Verdot.

François-Xavier Maroteaux and Jean-Dominique Videau are enjoying the new winery here. More small vats mean smaller plots no longer mix in larger tanks – better expressing the 15 different soil types. François-Xavier reported a little drought stress in some Merlot plots which were not used in the grand vin. Their best plots, on clay, were unaffected. The final blend is almost identical to 2022 and always elegant, but there is some more obvious detail in the 2023. Violet and peony notes mingle with subtle graphite and cedar welcoming a long, creamy finish.

Drink 2029 - 2050

Our score: 17.5/20

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Critics reviews

Jane Anson94/100

Bright fruits, slate tannins, peony florals, black tea, tobacco and tons of St Julien finesse. Cabernet dominant in aroamtics and fruit character, a delicious Branaire. 53hl/ha yields.

Drink 2029 - 2040

Jane Anson, janeAnson.com (April 2024)

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Neal Martin, Vinous92-94/100

The 2023 Branaire Ducru was picked from September 12, on the same day as last year, albeit with a longer harvest, as they finished on October 4. Yields were 53hL/ha, and the blend is almost the same as the 2022. This is the second vintage made in the new winery. My sample came from a new-oak barrel, but the final blend will include 60%. Lucid purple in color, it has a charming, very pure bouquet, perhaps less opulent than some of its Saint-Julien peers, yet precise. Delicate floral scents permeate the predominant red fruit, never bursting from the glass but unfurling with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with slightly edgy tannins that impart tension, veering slightly more to black fruit on the mid-palate. This is certainly one of the most elegant Branaire-Ducru vintages to date, but it has more weight on the finish (something that has been addressed in recent years.) Understated and sapid, it should be open for business a little earlier than others, but it will age well over 20 to 25 years.

Drink 2028 - 2050

Neal Martin, Vinous.com (April 2024)

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Antonio Galloni, Vinous91-93/100

The 2023 Branaire-Ducru offers up pretty notes of crushed red/purplish berry fruit, lavender, spice and mint. At this stage, the 2023 comes across as a bit light, even within the context of this property, where the wines are always laid back relative to neighboring estates. Perhaps the 2023 will flesh out over time. We will see. Tasted two times.

Drink 2030 - 2053

Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com (April 2024)

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Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW92-94/100

The 2023 Branaire-Ducru is deep garnet-purple in color. It reveals fragrant scents of crushed blackcurrants, Morello cherries, and lavender oil, giving way to hints of graphite, tar, and aniseed. The medium-bodied palate delivers a good amount of black berry flavors, with savory accents and ripe, grainy tannins to support, finishing with an herbal lift.

Drink 2028 - 2042

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Independent (May 2024)

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Jancis Robinson MW16.5/20

61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5.5% Cabernet Franc and 3.5% Petit Verdot. Cask sample.

Dark fruit with a touch of oak. Juicy and layered with some zest and lift. Clean, dry finish. Medium-bodied. Everything in place.

Drink 2030 - 2042

James Lawther MW, JancisRobinson.com (April 2024)

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Wine Advocate93-94/100

The 2023 Branaire-Ducru has turned out beautifully, wafting from the glass with classy aromas of dark berries, plums, pencil shavings and licorice, followed by a medium to full-bodied, cool and layered palate that's seamless, complete and enveloping, with terrific depth and vibrancy of fruit, refined tannins and a long, suave finish. At 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5.5% Cabernet Franc and 3.5% Petit Verdot, it's almost the same blend as the 2022, though at 13.1% alcohol and a pH of 3.63, it's more classically proportioned. Harvest began on September 12 and dragged on through October 4, parcel by parcel, with the vintage's healthy yields meaning the team could use their new winery, equipped with 63 smaller tanks, to keep all those components separate.

William Kelley, Wine Advocate (April 2024)

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James Suckling95-96/100

This has so much lead pencil, stone and blackcurrant character, as well as blackberry. It’s medium-bodied with a solid core of fruit and a polished finish. Very classy and structured.

James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com (April 2024)

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Jeb Dunnuck93-95/100

Located just across from Château Beychevelle, the 2023 Château Branaire-Ducru reveals a dense ruby/purple hue as well as absolute classic notes of red and blue fruits, spring flowers, sappy, and cedarwood. It's medium to full-bodied, has a supple, layered, elegant mouthfeel, remarkable purity, and ultra-fine tannins. It's one hell of a classy, balanced 2023 that will have 20+ years of prime drinking.

Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com (May 2024)

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About this WINE

Château Branaire-Ducru

Château Branaire-Ducru

Classified as a fourth growth in 1855, Ch. Branaire-Ducru makes pure and classic St Julien. The estate has recently passed from father to son: the widely respected Patrick Maroteaux – who had served at various times as president of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux and the St Julien appellation – sadly passed away in 2017. His son François-Xavier has picked up the baton and continues his father’s legacy. The Maroteaux family bought the property in 1988 and have invested considerably in the vineyard and winery since. Superstar consultant Eric Boissenot advises here, as he does with many of the Left Bank’s top estates, including the Médoc’s four first growths.

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St Julien

St Julien

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.

Recommended Châteaux: Ch. Léoville Las CasesCh.Léoville Barton, Ch Léoville Poyferré, Ch. Ducru-Beaucaillou, Ch Langoa Barton, Ch Gruaud Larose, Ch. Branaire-Ducru, Ch. Beychevelle

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Cabernet Sauvignon Blend

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.

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