2003 Branaire Ducru
Robert Parker | 94 RP
Extremely perfumed, with currants, blackberries, and flowers on the nose. Full bodied, with a solid core of beautiful fruit and super chewy, yet polished tannins. This is a brick house. Pull the cork after 2016. Find the wine
James Suckling | 94 JS
Opulent aromas of blackberry, olives and toasted oak follow through to a full-bodied palate, with big chewy tannins and a long, long finish. Big and muscular wine. Best after 2009. 15,000 cases made.
Wine Spectator | 93 WS
(72% cabernet sauvignon, 20% merlot, 4.5% petit verdot and 3.5% cabernet franc; 3.75 pH; 13% alcohol): Bright ruby-red. Intense mocha and sweet spice notes complicate ripe dark cherry and macerated plum aromas on the very ripe, deep nose. Large-scaled and plush, with ripe but not cooked red and black fruit flavors. Surprisingly lively acidity and seamless tannins give the wine good support. Finishes creamy and long, with a repeating note of mocha. For the most part I am not a fan of the 2003 Bordeaux owing to the furnace-like summer, but the Branaire-Ducru is a knockout and owner Patrick Maroteaux has always told me he thinks it’s one of the best wines he has ever made. Not surprisingly in 2003, the grapes were harvested much earlier and faster than usual, between September 9 and 24.
Vinous Media | 92 VM
One of the great estates of southern Saint-Julien, producing wines whose regularity in succeeding vintages is remarkable. For 2003, Branaire has produced a dark wine, with dry, powerful tannins coming from very ripe fruit. The wood is dry and toasty, leaving a general impression of a wine that will age at a stately pace.
Wine Enthusiast | 91 WE
Wine Details for 2003 Branaire Ducru
|Type of Wine||
: 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
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.
: 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.
: 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!
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.