Château Beychevelle 2014
• Domaine: Château Beychevelle
• Appellation: Saint-Julien
• Classification: Fourth Growth, 4ème Grand Cru Classé
• Origin: Left Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
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.
"The Château Beychevelle 2014 is a blend of 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 51% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc. You might notice the high percentage of Merlot. This is because of the flowering, decisions made during blending and the low yield of the Cabernet Sauvignon. It was cropped at 38 hectoliters per hectare between 25 September and 14 October during what the estate recorded as the driest September since 1961. That Merlot governs the aromatics here, the fruit clearly towards the red side of the fruit spectrum: cranberry and wild strawberry, almost Right Bank in style. The palate is ripe and fleshy, nicely defined with tensile tannins. I appreciate the nascent harmony here, with fine precision and a long sustained finish with fine salinity. You could argue that pinning your hopes on Merlot when so many others proselytize Cabernet Sauvignon was a risk however, in this showing it was a risk that was worth taking. "Pomerol does Saint Julien" perhaps? It seems to work on what may be the most seductive Beychevelle for years." - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate (4/29/2015, Issue 218), Ratings: 91-93
"The 2014 Beychevelle checks in as a Merlot-heavy blend of 51% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the rest equal parts Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. This deeply colored 2014 offers loads of ripe black cherry and smoky blackberry fruit as well as an undeniable minerality in its charcoal, toasted spice, and graphite aromas and flavors. With medium to full-bodied richness, good concentration, notable tannin, and a fresh, classic style, this age-worthy 2014 will benefit from 4-5 years of bottle age and keep for two-plus decades." - Jeb Dunnuck, Jebdunnuck.com, Rating: 93, Maturity: 2022-2042
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