Red, Ready, but will keep

1996 Ch. Ducru Beaucaillou, St Julien

1996 Ch. Ducru Beaucaillou, St Julien

Red | Ready, but will keep | Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou | Code:  586 | 1996 | France > Bordeaux > St Julien | Cab.Sauvignon Blend | Medium-Full Bodied, Dry | 13.0 % alcohol

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Scores and Reviews

The Wine Advocate

93/100

The Wine Advocate - The 1996 Ducru Beaucaillou was picked from 23 September until 8 October, a blend of 25% Merlot and 75% Cabernet Sauvignon. It has evolved a very pure bouquet, almost Burgundy-like, with macerated red cherries and red plum, tobacco, leather and bay leaf. This 1996 seems a little more forward than others, perhaps more 1995 in style, but it is bestowed one of the most seductive and sensual aromatics of the vintage. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, crisp acidity, moving firmly into secondary stage with hints of leather, game and allspice. This is a Ducru Beaucaillou that has resolved to give pleasure at 20 years and not sooner. Hints of Hoisin develop on the finish with Chinese Five-Spice and leave you wanting more. Enjoy this now and over the next 15-20 years. (Incidentally, Bruno Borie poured another bottle that had been decanted and it was astonishingly different. The decanted version, perhaps against expectation, seemed firmer, sharper and more masculine, more 1996 if you like, perhaps revealing the true Ducru Beaucaillou.) Tasted July 2016.
Neal Martin - 28/10/2016

The Producer

Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou

Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou

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.

The Grape

Cab.Sauvignon Blend

Cab.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.

The Region

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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