Branaire has made a very fine wine in 2017. François Xavier Maroteaux, who has now taken the reins, explained they are always striving for a ‘home signature’ which combines pure fruit, freshness and balance - mission accomplished this year! 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 4.5% Cabernet Franc, 6.5% Petit Verdot. For the team here they feel the structure is closest to 2015. It seems a little higher toned perhaps but is very attractive. Lovely purity, well focused and a great feel. There is a nice frame with surprisingly good structure for the vintage and this is quite tightlly wound for now. This feels complete, a very sexy wine with a ripe middle of dark cassis and dark plum flesh - but nothing too sweet. Measured, pure but with nice plush depth. Good stuff. Drinking range: 2022 - 2035 Rating: 92 - 93 L&S (Apr 2018)
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The 2017 Branaire Ducru was picked 13 September until 4 October over a three-week period, cropped at 39.6hl/ha. The alcohol here is 13.2°. The wine is aged in 60% new oak, which is how the sample was made. It has a harmonious bouquet with brambly black fruit, melted tar and tobacco scents, not powerful but precise. The palate is medium-bodied with a smooth texture, fine tannin, just a subtle savory note developing and merging nicely with the black fruit, hints of white pepper and cedar towards the poised finish that is quintessential Saint-Julien. There is an essence of drinkability about this Branaire-Ducru and I can imagine this being approachable after three to four years. This is a very fine Branaire-Ducru. Drinking range: 2021 - 2040 Rating: 91-93 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com (May 2018)
Deep cherry red. Fragrant with pure, pretty cassis on the nose. Slightly leafy. But a little dilute on the palate. The tannins are light enough to give balance but it's pretty lightweight overall, hence the rather early drinking date. Drinking range: 2022 - 2030 Rating: 15.5 Julia Harding MW, www.JancisRobinson.com (Apr 2018)
The deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Branaire-Ducru gives up notes of baked black berries, red cherries and mulberries with touches of potpourri and smoked meats. Medium-bodied with a lively line lifting the good concentration of red and black fruits, it has a chewy frame and grippy finish. Rating: 88-90 Lisa Perrotti-Brown, RobertParker.com (Apr 2018)
A little tight, austere and hard to read. I tasted this on several occasions and each time it needed to be taken slowly, giving it time to unwind and to come out of its shell. There is a lovely richness to it that builds through the mid-palate, and the well expressed plum and blackberry fruit is soft. It's a balanced and elegant St-Julien, but just a touch underpowered. Drinking range: 2024 - 2038 Rating: 89 Jane Anson, Decanter (Apr 2018)
The deep purple-colored 2017 Château Branaire-Ducru offers a fresh, focused, classic style in 2017. Beautiful spring flowers, black and blue fruits, and a kiss of minerality all emerge from this medium-bodied effort that has nicely integrated acidity, a balanced, clean texture, and plenty of mid-palate depth. My money is on this ending up being an outstanding wine. Rating: 90-92 Jeb Dunnuck, www.jebdunnuck.com (Apr 2018)
This is very tight and focused with a precise depth of blackberry and blueberry fruit. Full body, melted tannins and a fresh and vivid finish. Shows a compacted style. Rating: 92-93 James Suckling, www.jamessuckling.com (Apr 2018)
The plum and cherry paste flavors show good energy, with floral lift and sleek graphite accents adding to the sense of range and definition. Well done. Rating: 90-93 James Molesworth, The Wine Spectator (Apr 2018)
This was a very sad year for Branaire-Ducru, and will surely be remembered not for the frost, but for the tragic passing of its much admired proprietor, Patrick Maroteaux, a warm, friendly and welcoming soul. His 2017, tasted during the primeurs, has a slightly muted nose, with some heavily toasted oak batting down the fruit at the moment. The palate shows the same character, but it has a nice texture to the body into the middle, albeit with a rather fresh redcurrant and red cherry flavour profile. Overall this has a gentle, elegant, rather reposed style, with a nicely balanced and integrated composition. The finish shows fresh tannins, and an attractive, lingering presence of fruit. Rating: 91-93 Chris Kissack, www.thewinedoctor.com (Apr 2018)
Château Branaire Ducru
St Julien Quatrième cru 1855 When the Beychevelle estate was broken up in 1642, in order to pay off the debts of the deceased owner, it gave birth to three Châteaux - Beychevelle, Ducru-Beaucaillou and, the portion purchased by Jean-Baptiste Braneyre, Branaire-Ducru. Jean-Baptiste's daughter married Pierre de Luc and their descendents (morphing into the Duluc family during the Revolution) owned Branaire until 1919. Branaire failed to excite much until it was bought by Patrick Maroteaux in 1988. Since then Branaire-Ducru has become a reliably good buy for lovers of St Julien. The vineyards are planted to 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and 4% each of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. While the number of family-owned châteaux is becoming increasingly smaller in the Médoc, the Maroteaux family has owned Branaire-Ducru since 1988. They immediatley put in a stat of the art gravity fed cellar - designed in a revolutionary way along the lines of a spoked -wheel - with all the tanks fanning out from a central control space up above. In 2017 it still looks cutting edge - and it is easy to understand how the wines are made so well here. Very sadly on November 19, 2017, Patrick Maroteaux passed away at the age of 67. His son, François Xavier Maroteaux took over the full time responsibilities of managing the estate and is committed to keeping up the great work being done here. Every year they strive to retain their ‘home signature’ of 'pure fruit, freshness and balance' and although you can always sense the vintage variations - this ambition is always clear. The Grand Vin has a focus and an elegance that is intrinsically 'Branaire' - and the pricing remains well measured. Branaire-Ducru is very often one of our recommended wines as it can offer super value for money in St Julien.