|Subregion||France > Bordeaux > Left Bank > St Julien|
Ducru Beaucaillou is on top form these days. Bruno Borie has made some very serious wines at Ducru in recent vintages with many vats previously destined for the grand vin now being used for the second or third labels. Bruno's policy is now to only select fruit from the heart of the Ducru vineyard, overlooking the estuary, for the Grand Vin. Ducru is clearly back where it belongs at the top of the super-second league. Replanting of key sites is ongoing in order to further improve the quality here and production levels are about half what they were 20+ years ago.
The 2022 is 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot. Picked from 7th September to 4th October - the longest harvest here ever. Bruno commented that although 2022 was a hot year there were only 8 days above 35 degrees celcius compared to 14 in 2003 - and the nights were much cooler. This is 14 degrees alcohol and it will spent 18 months in 100% new oak.
One of the Médoc's most powerful wines this year is the 2022 Ducru-Beaucaillou, a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18% Merlot that opens in the glass with aromas of dark cherries and berries mingled with pencils shavings, vanilla pod and spices. Full-bodied, broad-shouldered and muscular, with a core of ripe but lively fruit underpinned by a chassis of powdery, liberally extracted tannin that asserts itself on the finish, it's a punchy, modern Saint-Julien reminiscent of a hypothetical blend of the 2018 and 2020.
The 2022 Ducru-Beaucaillou contains less Cabernet than last year and is closer to the normal blend of the Grand Vin , picked between 7 September and 4 October - the longest harvest in their history. The IPT is 95. Matured in 100% new oak, the bouquet bides its time in the glass, almost reluctantly unfurling with scents of blackberry, briary, cigar humidor and sous-bois. At this nascent stage, it is more backward than its peers. The palate is undoubtedly one of the most dense and muscular that I have encountered over many years tasting at the estate, full-bodied with vice-like tannins. Continuing the theme of the estate's other cuvées, there is a lovely Pauillac-like presence throughout, with graphite/pencil lead infusing the black fruit. The finish exerts a considerable grip and feels saline, almost briny on the aftertaste. This Leviathan Ducru-Beaucaillou threatens to overwhelm the senses, uncompromising in many ways, and it will patently take many years for the tannins to soften. I feel that it is only once in bottle that one will be able to gauge its trajectory. 2040-2075
Deep in colour with an opulent, impressive nose of crème de cassis, vanilla bean, pipe tobacco and liquorice, this is dense and ripe. The palate is fleshy, hedonistic and creamy, with plush, rounded tannins and a dense fruit that matches the structure. The fruit has lift and edge, offering a bright lift through the middle, but there remains a strong, spicy, smoky character from the wood and a high level of polish to this wine. Chewy and muscular to the finish, this should be a long-lived Ducru Beaucaillou.
Some much creme de cassis and blackcurrant aromas and flavors here. Full-bodied with powerful tannins, yet fine and layered. Chewy. You can really feel the thick grape skins here. Excellent length. Tannins spread across the palate. Minerally and crushed stone.
The 2022 Ducru-Beaucaillou is made from 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18% Merlot with a yield of 29 hl/ha, and represents 25% of the year's production. Deep garnet-purple in color, it soars out of the glass with graceful, energetic notes of crushed blackcurrants, redcurrant preserves, wild blueberries, and dark chocolate, followed by touches of violets, clove oil, cumin seed, and cast-iron pan. The medium to full-bodied palate is built like a skyscraper, delivering very firm, super-ripe, grainy tannins and seamless freshness to support the densely laden, vibrant black fruits, finishing very long with a spectacular display of mineral and floral fireworks. pH 3.80, TPI 95.
Deep damson colour, poised and intense, a serious wine with crushed mint, graphite and bitter black chocolate on the opening beats, setting the tone for a slow reveal of confident St Julien character. Powerful tannins convey purity and precision, set against creamy cassis and bilberry fruits, with softer smoked earth and baked spice, and a slate finish. The construction is careful and measured, extremely impressive, this is has decades ahead. 3.8ph, 95IPT. 100% new oak. 30hl/h yield.
Moving to the Grand Vin, it's a slightly more Merlot-influenced blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18% Merlot, raised in new barrels. It brings the same level of concentration and structure as the La Croix but has another level of class, elegance, and purity, with sensational aromatics of crème de cassis, graphite, crushed stone, sandalwood, and graphite. The purity here is truly remarkable, and it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, perfectly integrated oak, silky tannins, and a great finish. This beauty hit 14% natural alcohol with a pH of 3.8 and an IPT of 95. Given its balance as well as its texture, it's going to offer pleasure with just short-term cellaring yet also evolve for decades.
82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot. Cask sample.
Deep colour – purple-black to the rim. Cassis and blueberry fragrance with a toasted oak edge. Smoky and minerally as well. Smooth texture with a generous quantity of tannin behind. Concentrated, polished and long. Has the potential but needs time. (JL) 14%
Drink 2034– 2055
Despite the highly-documented difficulties in the summer, with heat spikes and drought concerns, rainfall appeared when the vineyards needed it most, and no fewer than 180 pickers were used at the height of the harvest, endeavouring to pick every berry at precisely the optimal time. In the end, there was no disease pressure whatsoever and the one-word description of the harvest at Ducru, according to Tracey Dobbin MW, was ‘serene’. The crew relied on input from the R&D team to be as precise as possible, and despite Merlot coming fairly fast and the Cabernet berries being tiny, they were thrilled with the quality of the fruit. Tracey described the skins as ‘powerful’ and ‘melt in the mouth’, and the seeds were akin to ‘toasted hazelnuts’! They decided to kick off fermentation, without a cold soak, at 10C and then let it slowly rise, extracting the flavours as gently as possible. The new vats at Ducru are half the size of the old ones, allowing even more precision and selection during this critical period of winemaking. The resulting wine is utterly mind-blowing, with some of the most dynamic and expressive fruit I have ever seen at this august estate. The impact of the fruit is astounding, and yet this is not a heavyweight wine. Tracey mentioned showjumpers while trying to sum up the character of this wine – powerful, dextrous, explosive and beautiful animals, and this is a good analogy. My analogy is more regimental with perfectly turned-out columns of flavour, impeccably presented and immaculately well-drilled. There are volleys of fruit here, mounting stealthy waves of attacks on your system until you are swarmed with the glossiest, sexiest and most intrusive Cabernet assaults. This is another stellar
wine that tastes solely of its property and nowhere else on earth, and this is an indelible hallmark of the very finest wines in 2022. The tannins are as polished and fine-grained as I have experienced in this vintage, and the overall package embraces the unique characters of the 2022 vintage while overlaying them perfectly on the glorious Ducru template.