Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 1998
At Laguna Cellar, we try not to pick favorites. But sometimes a producer is just so special that we can’t help but be a little partial to them. This is very much the case for Château Ducru-Beaucaillou. This St-Julien Second Growth is simply superb. Robert Parker Jr describes the wines from this “Super Second” in his tome on Bordeaux to be the perfect essence of “elegance, symmetry, balance, breed, class and distinction.” If a reclassification were ever to be in the cards, Château Ducru-Beaucaillou would surely have a shot at First Growth status.
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou has a long history that dates back to the 13th Century. It received its namesake when Bertrand Ducru purchased the estate back in 1795. The Château was loved by politicians and noblemen alike. Bertrand Ducru’s daughter married the speaker for the French Parliament, and the story goes that he switched the politician’s customary glass of water for a glass of Château Ducru-Beaucaillou.
The property had a sterling reputation from being classified as a Second Growth in 1855 and was sold in 1866 to Lucie Caroline Dassier for one million francs. Dassier was the wife of the famous negociant Nathaniel Johnston. Johnston performed numerous experiments at Château Ducru-Beaucaillou to protect the vines from various rots and diseases. He developed the first solution for mildew by creating what is now called, “Bordeaux Soup.” This concoction is a mixture of lime milk and copper sulfite used to cure the vines of mildew. It is still used to protect against mildew today.
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou is unique in so many aspects. One of which is that it receives part of its namesake from the terroir that is specific to this estate. The estate’s signature Gunz gravel reflects the sun’s rays and offers the perfect drainage for the 50 hectares Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vines. The name, “Beaux Cailloux,” loosely translates to, “beautiful stones.” The winemaking team firmly believes these special pebbles do all the work on the estate in transforming their precious grapes into astounding, mineral-driven wines with tremendous ageing potential. Guests to the chateau are sometimes given a token of souvenir in the form of a velvet-boxed pebble from the land around the estate.
One cannot talk about Château Ducru-Beaucaillou without mentioning the current owner, Bruno Borie. Borie is a legendary figure in the Bordeaux Wine Community, and brings his passion, knowledge, and perfectionism to Château Ducru-Beaucaillou. Borie made many contributions to the Wine and Spirits world, including revitalizing the image of the popular brand Lillet by making sure it was featured in the James Bond movie Quantum of Solace. This likable and happy man made many major contributions to the estate, but the most notable one was ridding it of its TCA - cork taint - problem in the 1980s and 1990s. Bruno made sure that the older vintages were recorked, and all the contaminated corks were destroyed.
The wines from Château Ducru-Beaucaillou differ from some of the brawnier wines St-Julien has to offer. They develop very slowly over time but are definitely worth the wait, as the results are a stunning harmony of fruit and power.
"A supremely elegant, dense purple-colored effort, the 1998 reveals aromas of cassis, black raspberries, minerals, and currants. Precise, well-delineated, and medium to full-bodied, with magnificent purity and understated elegance, this noble, restrained wine reveals a tannic finish, suggesting 4-5 more years of cellaring is warranted. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2025." Robert Parker, Rating 91
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