A week ago this Wednesday eve, some of Ditton Wine Traders’ customers met with Bruno Borie of Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, at the Vintners Hall, the original home of the English wine trade.
The evening started upstairs in the drawing room with a few glasses of an excellent Blanquette de Limoux – the other Limoux, not the Cremant, made predominantly from a grape that rarely graces the flutes of the UK, Mauzac. Produced by Domaine J Laurens, this wine recently scooped a Silver at the Decanter World Wine Awards, scored half a point lower than the Dom Perignon 2003 with Jancis Robinson, and had our guests asking which Champagne house it was. For £12 a bottle, that’s not too shabby.
Ducru-Beaucaillou is one of Bordeaux’s best loved Chateaux, and Bruno, one of Bordeaux’s most loved characters. On the left bank of the Gironde estuary, the estate was classified as a second growth in the 1855 classification, but in recent years has been producing wines which vie in quality with the First Growths.
Decanting in the basement at Vintners
After a glass or two of bubbles, waiting in the dining room for us were glasses of Lalande Borie 2010 and Croix de Beaucaillou 2005, served alongside chicken & duck liver pate. The Lalande Borie was super fresh and needed a minute to open up, but when it did, it showed better than most estate’s efforts at a second wine. Red fruit, medium bodied, and a cracking acidity!
The second wine, Croix de Beaucaillou, for which the grapes could be used in the Grand Vin (M. Borie feels strongly enough about the individual characteristics of the wine to give it its own place), got people talking. Had this been served blind, there’s a good chance it may have been mistaken for the Ducru itself. So good, one of our guests asked if they could buy it all, literally. All the nuances of its noble sibling, but drinking excellently now. Both of these wines warrant a place in any Ducru lover’s cellar.
As the evening progressed, we were happier to discuss with Bruno what we liked and didn’t like – fortunately there wasn’t a lot we didn’t! With the main course of grouse, we had the 1986, 2000 and 2004 Ducru Beaucaillou. Not too many an opinion was divided here – the 2000 stood out and reminded us why Parker sometimes refers to this estate as the “Lafite Rothschild of St-Julien.”
“It’s about the Cailloux,” – the stones that make up the soils of Ducru, “that add to the ‘minerality’ of the wines” added M. Borie. So important are these stones, that he sought out the daughter of one of the original Stones, in Jade Jagger, to design the label for the Croix de Beaucaillou from 2009 onwards.
The 1986, which had taken a bit of a bashing prior to our dinner, from those that had tried it in the past, was not showing 27 years of age. It might lack the complexity and balance of the later wines but it has held up remarkably well and still shows lots of dark fruit with no sign of this fading any time soon. Very good balance, and some great tannins – this is a big bold Ducru.
The 2004, perhaps under-rated in my opinion, showed great promise. Difficult to fully get to grips with now, this is a wine to stick away for a few more years. Redder fruits, ‘minerality,’and a lovely herby/ flowery complexity – this is only lacking in balance which should come in time, and will really reward those that can wait.
Seated for dinner
“For the English…” stated Bruno, for the 2000… This is what it’s all about. This is what makes you choose Ducru Beaucaillou as one of your desert island wines. All sorts of fruit here, red, black and blue, plus a few others that I can’t place. Almost text book perfection, but quirky enough to make it better than that. Chocolate & coffee, a hint of sweet smoke, this has it all, and will only get better with another 2-3 years as the tannins settle. If you ever fall out of love with Bordeaux, this should help to repair the damage.
Another successful evening at the Vintners concluded: Bruno’s first presentation of his wines in the UK; a deeper understanding of how the property works, especially since Bruno took over in 2003; and a reminder that Ducru-Beaucaillou is up there with the best Chateaux in Bordeaux.
Thanks to all of our guests for joining us for this special evening; Raphael & Sophia, Giles at the Independent Vintner, and of course, Bruno Borie of Ducru Beaucaillou.
All of the wines from the evening are available to purchase – please email us firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 020 8 339 9112