1961 Ducru Beaucaillou

98
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1961-ducru-beaucaillou
 

Wine Critic Reviews for 1961 Ducru Beaucaillou

It has now been more than a decade since I last crossed paths with a bottle of the 1961 vintage at Ducru, which remains the greatest vintage from this estate that I have ever tasted. The low yields of the 1961 vintage seemed to create a wine that is both more elegant than most vintages of this era at Ducru-Beaucaillou, and more intensely flavored as well. It is a very, very special wine and one of the greatest wines produced in the Médoc in this legendary vintage. The bouquet the last time I tasted this wine was absolutely pure and classic Ducru, soaring from the glass in a beautifully refined and complex blend of sweet cassis and black cherry fruit, gravelly soil tones, cigar smoke, a touch of nuttiness, black truffles, herb tones and cedar. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, focused and utterly seamless, with a great core, impeccable focus and balance, melting tannins and stunning length and grip on the very, very long and dancing finish. It is probably the supremely elegant 1961 Ducru that first earned comparisons of this estate to Lafite-Rothschild at its best. My thanks go out to an old tasting chum, Doctor Herb Werner, who was first generous enough to pull this wine from his cellar and share it with me back when I was only starting out in the wine trade in the late 1980s. I have been fortunate enough to taste the wine several times in the ensuing years, but no bottle has been more memorable than that first taste of ’61 Ducru. This is a legendary claret from the post-war years, and though it has now been more than a decade since I last tasted the wine, I have little doubt that it continues to cruise along magically and that time remains incapable of touching this wine. (Drink between 1997-2040)

John Gilman | 98 JG
Pale to medium brown-brick colored, the 1961 Ducru-Beaucaillou springs from the glass with notes of kirsch, raspberry preserves and dried mulberries plus wafts of sandalwood, menthol, aniseed and dried roses with a hint of black truffles. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is laden with layers of dried red and black berries and tons of spice and floral sparks with a wonderfully plush texture and fantastically long, multilayered finish. A great bottle like this one satisfies all the style and quality expectations of a 1961, and then some.

Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 98 RP
(Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Cabernet Sauvignon, St-Julien, Bordeaux, France, Red) This bottle of 1961 Ducru-Beaucaillou is exceptional with a delicate and refined bouquet of bacon, ash, red berries, tobacco, cedar, and graphite with air. Long and delicate, the palate is perfectly balanced and medium-bodied with a performing freshness and tension on the final. A real beauty! Enjoy it now, although it can be cellared for another two to four years. (Drink between 2022-2022)

Decanter | 97 DEC
I have been fortunate to taste the 1961 Ducru-Beaucaillou several times over 20 years, both blind and non-blind, at private dinners and at the château. It is a formidable 1961. This bottle has the vintage’s telltale chlorine tincture on the nose that is interwoven into the black fruit, peat and light cedar scents. It is extremely focused although not as vigorous as say, a decade ago. The palate is very well balanced with fine tannins, very saline in the mouth, full of tension and energy thank to its fine bead of acidity. As I remarked in my previous note, it is not a 1961 with a surfeit of finesse, but it has a dimension and gravitas that demands respect. Tasted at the Ducru Beaucaillou vertical at the château.

Vinous Media | 97 VM
A classy Bordeaux from a great year. It smells perfumed and exotic, tastes plush, velvety and rich with complex flavors. Has great balance and good length. Can age through at least 2002, but may be at its peak now.--1961 Bordeaux horizontal.

Wine Spectator | 92 WS

Wine Details on 1961 Ducru Beaucaillou

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Producer Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou: With three hundred years of influence in the Medoc, the history of Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou is as elegant as the wine itself; the property, magnificent and its terroir so unique that it lends to the name of this tremendous Second Growth. In existence since 1720, Ducru Beaucaillou has been a symbol of beauty and prestige in the small but fertile appellation of Saint Julien, carved by the Gironde and nestled between Margaux to the South and Paulliac to the North.

Over the course of history only six families have owned the lands of Ducru Beaucaillou, each playing a significant role in its success, from the founding family to its current owner. In 1795, Bertrand Ducru acquired the property and his love of the Medoc growth led him to make major investments in both the cellars and vineyard. His contributions were so grand that his successors decided to add his name to that of Beaucaillou. Ducru’s tireless, ambitious nature helped propel the reputation of the estate, developing the land and transforming the typical Gironde house into an elegant Directoire chartreuse (traditional country-styled chateau) overlooking the estuary.

Each inheriting family would tend to the vineyards with the utmost care and respect, leaving their own mark on its history. In 1855, Ducru Beaucaillou was officially classified a Second Growth. After years of continued success, the property finally came to rest in the hands of the Borie family in 1942. The efforts of the Borie family have only elevated the esteem and allure of Ducru Beaucaillou to a higher status. Human effort can only be partly accountable and the Borie family recognized this ideal as well as the extreme importance of the unique terroir being its most significant contributor.

The miracle of this Medoc property lies in the marriage of the air, land and vine. The peninsula is open to the estuary to the east, bordered by the peaceful pine forest to the west and has a light like no other. This steamy, orange light lazily caresses the vines of Ducru Beaucaillou in the early morning. The stony ridges are comprised of ancient deposits from centuries of erosion creating a soil composed of gravel, marl and pebbles. These pebbles are quite significant in both its contribution to the soil and also its name. The name Beaucaillou means, “Beautiful Pebbles.” These large, beautiful stones named “Gunz,” give rise to poor soils, forcing the plant to draw its nutrients at depth. The pebbles retain daytime heat and return it to the vines at night, facilitating the ripening of the vine. This tremendous force of nature gives the wines of Ducru Beaucaillou an extraordinary elegance, grace and silky composure.

The 75-hectare vineyard is planted to 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and provide the grapes for its flagship, Ducru Beaucaillou, the second and third wines, La Croix Ducru Beaucaillou, and Le Petit Ducru De Ducru Beaucaillou. The current owner, Borie has lowered its yields in an attempt to increase quality and thus dropping production to 10,000 cases annually. Ducru Beaucaillou has witnessed much throughout its long and illustrious history, but has also, very much stayed the same. It remains a jewel of Saint Julien today.
Region Bordeaux: Even among the greatest and most reputable wine regions on the planet, Bordeaux stands above the rest. The winemakers of this region have a single-minded dedication to the fine art of viticulture and their efforts never fail to show. If you consider yourself a fine wine enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to visit Bordeaux - life changing. Whether you wish to drink some inspirational and gripping wine as soon as possible, or you want to add some masterpieces to your collection, no region on Earth is a more obvious choice.

The noble and beautiful Garonne and Dordogne rivers surge through southwestern France, enriching the soil in a way very few other places can boast. The limestone-based earth is rich in calcium, and the almost oceanic climate conditions give the staple Bordeaux grape varietals vigor and flavor like nowhere else. For their illustrious reds, Bordeaux winemakers rely on a proven combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Meanwhile, a sip of their excellent white wine hints at the use of Semillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc.Each of these varietals carries a unique identity, making every quality wine a character piece to rival Citizen Kane. It can be incredibly hard to choose only a few wines to collect for your cellar!
Subregion Saint Julien
Country France: Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.



For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.



France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.



France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.



With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.

Type of Wine Bordeaux Red: Picture in your mind a combination of cedar, lead pencil, blackcurrant, plum and mineral aromatics, and texture that caresses your palate like a playful lover. The experience is thrilling from the first whiff to the final seconds of a tannic, generous finish - that is what you'll get from a Bordeaux Red
Varietal Red Bordeaux Blend: The inhabitants of the Bordeaux region of France have been cultivating wine-grapes for thousands of years. Ancient Roman ruins litter the vineyards from Saint Emilion to Graves where the art of blending Bordeaux varietals has been practiced and perfected over a very long history. Bordeaux’s climate, terroir and soils, though varied, provide the optimal growing conditions for the red grape varietals planted in the region.

Rarely listed on the labels as “blend,” the red wines of Bordeaux are perhaps the most artfully designed and celebrated in the world. The calculated art of blending the native Bordeaux varietals is impressively accomplished in the most famous winegrowing region in the world. The phrase Bordeaux Blend which seems to have been coined by British wine merchants in the 19th Century relates as much to wines made from the blend as to the grape variety combination itself.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and occasionally Carmenere are the lead characters in the creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. Each plays a part in their own fashion and implemented in various combinations and percentages in each appellation within Bordeaux. Red Bordeaux Blends are majorly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, roughly making up 90% of all Bordeaux Blends. Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec (occasionally Carmenere) are also important components and vital to the production of the region’s red wines.

For simplicity, the winegrowing region of Bordeaux can be divided into three main appellations producing Red Bordeaux Blends; the Left Bank (Medoc), Right Bank and Pessac-Leognan (Graves). The Left Bank has a terroir comprised of a wide variety of gravel, stones, sand, limestone and clay soils on a natural terrain of gentle slopes. This sets the stage perfectly for the production of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the dominant grape of the Left Bank. For example, Chateau Lafite (Paulliac) is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Right Bank is dominated by clay and limestone with sand and gravel, but the clay in the Right Bank is distinctly its own and adds to the health, growth and vitality of the vines of the varietals grown here. Right Bank wines are typically 80% Merlot-based, which are often denser, richer and mature earlier than those of the Left Bank (with exceptions – Petrus for example). Merlot is a vital component to Pomerol winegrowing and making. Cabernet Franc also plays a major role in the Right Bank, most notably, in Saint Emilion, where the infamous vineyards of Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval Blanc are planted to 55% and 52% Cabernet Franc, respectively. Chateaux that produce wines with a majority of Cabernet Franc are considered “old school” producers, but have perfected the use of Cabernet Franc, which was originally used as a blending grape.

Pessac-Leognan (Graves) enjoys a temperate climate, natural hygrometry influenced by the ocean, and has a terroir composed of gravelly soil over a clay subsoil on sloping, hilly terrain. Natural drainage due to the hilly terrain as well as the gravelly soil structure are perfectly attuned to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape vine, which prospers under these conditions. Pessac reaps the benefits of having the terroir of both the Left and Right Bank as it contains gravel and clay. The clay sub-soil allows the growth and success of Merlot, as well as Cabernet Franc. It is home to the only First Growth not in the Medoc. The 50-hectare vineyard of Haut Brion is planted to 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.

The percentage of Petit Verdot and Malbec may be lesser in quantity, but not in quality. They are vital to the region’s creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. The combination of Bordeaux varietals is legendary in the region, around the world and has influenced winegrowers worldwide to plant and vinify wines which resemble those of Red Bordeaux Blends.

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