Château Beychevelle 2017
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• 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 2017 Beychevelle is a luscious, extroverted beauty. An exotic mélange of super-ripe dark cherry, red plum, pomegranate, espresso, licorice and blood orange build as this potent, unctuous Saint-Julien opens up in the glass. The tannins need time to soften but should not be much of an issue in another few years' time. I very much like the push and pull of ripeness and energy in the 2017. In a word: memorable. Tasted two times." - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, (March, 2020), Rating: 95, Drink: 2025-2047
"Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2017 Beychevelle opens with gregarious cassis and blackberry pie notes with touches of baking spices and underbrush plus a waft of lavender. Medium-bodied with a great core of ripe black fruits, it has a firm frame of ripe, grainy tannins and balancing freshness, finishing long. The final blend is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 4 Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (4/27/2018, Issue 236), Ratings: 90-92
"The 2017 Chateau Beychevelle is another beautiful wine from this estate, which is being run with incredible talent and passion by Romain Ducolomb, who was hired away from Chateau Clinet. The 2017 is based on 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot, and the rest Cabernet Franc (a selection of just 52% of the production) and spent 18 months in 60% new French oak. Lively, elegant notes of green tobacco, lead pencil, flowers, mint, and blueberries all emerge from the glass, and it’s medium to full-bodied, with a classic, elegant texture, ripe tannins, and a great finish. It’s up with the top wines in the vintage and will evolve for 2+ decades." - Jeb Dunnuck, Jebdunnuck.com, Rating: 95, Maturity: 2020-2042
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