Château Beychevelle 2013
• Domaine: Château Beychevelle
• Appellation: Saint-Julien
• Classification: Fourth Growth, 4ème Grand Cru Classé
• Origin: Left Bank, Bordeaux, France
The first major property visible off the D2 Médoc Route de Châteaux on the way to Saint Julien is the picturesque estate, Château Beychevelle. Resplendent gardens, 200-year-old conifers, priceless sculptures, and exquisite Baroque architecture have earned this Fourth Growth estate the nickname, “The Versailles of Bordeaux.” But make no mistake, Château Beychevelle is more than just a pretty face. In recent years, the wines have deviated from their traditional supple, easy-drinking style for a more concentrated approach and this has gone over well with critics. Robert Parker Jr considers its wines in some vintages, “as beautiful as its magnificent gardens” and Jane Anson from Decanter considers Château Beychevelle one of the ones to watch.
Château Beychevelle was initially a property of the Foix-Candale family and had already achieved recognition as a fine wine estate by 1446. Eventually it was acquired by the illustrious Duke of Épernon. The Duke was a prominent figure and well-respected Admiral in the Navy. He was a patron of the arts, and legend has it the illustrious French playwright, Molière, stayed at the estate with a troupe of actors. The Duke was also a formidable nobleman, whose power was felt all the way out to the banks of the Gironde and when ships passed his large estate which had a view of the river, they would lower their sails as a sign of respect. The name Beychevelle originates from the French words, baisser le voile, meaning “lower the sails.” The image of a ship sailing with lowered sales is still on the label today.
The palatial estate was owned by generations of French nobility and powerful négociants throughout the ages, such as Barton and Gustier. It was classified a Fourth Growth in 1855 and after changing hands throughout the centuries, was purchased by Aymar Achille-Fould in 1970. In 1984, Aymar partnered with Grand Millésimes de France (GMF) Group. Eventually, the Japanese Suntory Company which already had properties in Bordeaux like Château Lagrange took an interest in the estate. Most recently, Suntory along with Pierre Castel purchased the Saint Julien property in 2011.
Château Beychevelle continues to push toward organic farming techniques, and portions of the property are farmed this way. The new assistant winemaker, Romain Ducolomb, has a background at Château Clinet and has assisted Philippe Blanc in pursuing wines with purity, elegance, and richness. They both value sustainability, green farming, and energy efficient viticultural practices. Of the sprawling estate, 90 hectares are planted with vines of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Over the past few years, they have dramatically reduced their yields in order to produce wines that are more concentrated. The wines are all vinified plot by plot to express the optimum terroir here. They tend to harvest earlier than other estates in the Médoc, but this often serves them well and in particularly rainy vintages, Château Beychevelle has the upper hand. The grand vin reflect these positive changes and are proof that Château Beychevelle is more than just a beautiful property.
"A solid effort from this beautiful St.-Julien estate, the 2013 Beychevelle displays a healthy dark plum/ruby/purple-tinged color along with a floral-scented nose offering notes of black and red currants, forest floor, and subtle oak. With excellent richness, fine-grained, soft tannin and enough acidity for definition, it should drink well for 10-12 years." - Robert Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate (8/27/2014, Issue 214), Ratings: 88-90
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