The 2017 La Croix de Beaucaillou sees 60% new oak for 12 months, with a fairly high IPT of 75. It has a ripe and generous bouquet of blackberry, fresh fig, cedar and crushed violets that blossom in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, a fine bead of acidity, that structure making its presence felt towards the finish that exerts an insistent grip. As such, this will probably require three or four years in bottle just to soften the edges. Drinking range: 2021 - 2035 Rating: 90-92 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com (May 2018)
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No frost – protected by the river. 58% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot – usually majority Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot is on gravel and it had great freshness, says owner Bruno Borie. pH 3.74, TA (sulphuric) 3.46 g/l, IPT 75. Will be aged 12 months in French oak, 60% new. Deep crimson. Again that scented cherry fruit that I tasted in Lalande Borie with just a hint of char. Savoury as well as sweet-fruited – definite red fruit on the silky mid palate. Firmer on the finish but lots of fruit in the middle and a long, juicy, fresh finish. Fine tannins and just a hint of chocolate-sweet tannins on the finish. (JH) 13.68% Drinking range: 2024 - 2035 Rating: 16.5 Julia Harding MW, www.JancisRobinson.com (Apr 2018)
The Merlot here is grown on sandy-gravel soils and brings both freshness and structure. There's good balance, plush autumnal berry fruits and lovely spice, supported by well placed, delicate tannins. It's a clear Médoc twist on the varietal, even though this is a little lusher and more approachable than in recent years where Cabernet Sauvignon has been higher in the blend - last year it was at 66%, but vintage conditions in 2017 affected some of the crop. It's a little different in expression from 2016, but is an extremely high quality, great drinking wine. 3.74pH. IPT 75. Drinking range: 2025 - 2038 Rating: 91 Jane Anson, Decanter (Apr 2018)
A blend of 58% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Petit Verdot, 60% new oak, the deep ruby-colored 2017 La Croix Ducru-Beaucaillou from the charismatic winemaker Bruno Borie is another elegant, seamless wine from this vintage. It’s certainly a high-quality second wine. (It’s more like a second cuvée as it comes from a designated sector of vines.) Crème de cassis, crushed flowers, violets, and forest floor notes all flow to a medium-bodied, silky 2017 that has fine, fine tannin and plenty of length. Drink it while you wait on the Grand Vin. Rating: 90-92 Jeb Dunnuck, www.jebdunnuck.com (Apr 2018)
This is very fresh and minerally with a salty and oyster shell character. Full body, tight and bright. Plenty of currant flavors too. Rating: 92-93 James Suckling, www.jamessuckling.com (Apr 2018)
Solid, with a fresh beam of plum, black currant and anise flavors riding along a racy graphite edge. Clear and focused. Not big but a textbook St.-Julien Rating: 89-92 James Molesworth, The Wine Spectator (Apr 2018)
This second wine comes largely from vines just inland of those that feed into the estate’s grand vin, and the picking dates are the same. In this vintage it also includes a little Merlot that was declassified from the grand vin vineyards. During the sorting Bruno Borie says he and his team eliminated less Merlot than Cabernet Sauvignon, to my surprise, and this combined with the addition of the declassified fruit means the blend is Merlot-rich this year. Alongside 58% Merlot there is 39% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petit Verdot, when Cabernet Sauvignon would usually dominate this cuvée. The alcohol is 13.68%, total acidity 3.46 g/l and the IPT 75. It has a dark and smoky nose of black olive and black raspberry. The palate shows a lovely broad and supple character, with great freshness, but also a surging backbone of ripe, polished, velvety and concentrated tannins. The overall effect is bold and substantial. This is an impressive second wine, ripe and energetic, with deliciously silky-velvety tannins. Very good indeed. Rating: 92-94 Chris Kissack, www.thewinedoctor.com (Apr 2018)
Château Ducru Beaucaillou
St Julien Deuxième 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, Branaire-Ducru and Ducru-Beaucaillou. Château Ducru Beaucaillou was so named because of the quality lent to the wine by the large pebbles in the soil - the "good pebbles" being "beau caillou" (although it was originally "Maucaillou", "bad pebbles" not being much use for any other kind of agriculture). In 1795, the estate was purchased by Bertrand Ducru, and the name was complete. The early years on the 20th Century were not kind to Ducru-Beaucaillou, but salvation was on hand with its purchase by Francis Borie in 1941. Apart from some problems with TCA during the late 1980's, the tenure of the Borie family has been a time of continuing improvement at Ducru-Beaucaillou. Today, Francis' grandson Bruno Borie heads up the estate. The Borie family also own Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Château Haut Batailley. The 75ha of vineyard are planted to 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot have, apparently, left the blend. The Grand Vin spends 18 to 20 months in wood, with the proportion of new wood varying between vintages. A second wine was introduced in 1995 - La Croix de Beaucaillou. Also produced at Ducru-Beaucaillou is Château Lalande-Borie from vineyard purchased from Château Lagrange in 1970 which, although it could perfectly legally be absorbed into Château Ducru Beaucaillou, has always been produced as a seperate wine.