|Grapes||Merlot, Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, Syrah|
|Classification||4ème Cru Classé|
Branaire has done a great job here with their 2020. Owner François-Xavier Maroteaux explained, as we tasted over zoom, how wonderfully aromatic the Merlot was for them - unusual but very welcome - and it has worked well in their ‘home signature’ which combines pure fruit, freshness and balance. The wine has all of this - remaining really well poised and loaded with lifted fruit. All hedgerows and berries and a lovely St Julien feel. Not a heavy-weight but totally charming. In the vintage this stands out for its lighter touch and pretty poise. Very good.
58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. L&S (May 2021)
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The 2020 Branaire Ducru has a tightly wound bouquet of blackberry, wild hedgerow, freshly tilled loam and distinct sea spray scents, all well defined, albeit 15–20 minutes after opening my sample bottle. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannins, and very cohesive, displaying a keen thread of acidity. Unlike previous vintages, there is impressive density on the midpalate where it once was a little lean, and plenty of energy and tension conveyed by the finish. Excellent. Drinking range: 2028 - 2048 Rating: 92-94 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com (May 2021)
Blueberry, blackberry, damson and hawthorn, this has juice and tannins with an elegance and really excellent St-Julien character; A lovely Branaire, well placed. Unfussy, this is still not overly exuberant but it has a real sense of sappiness, lift and sinew. 3% Cabernet Franc completes the blend. Drinking range: 2027 - 2042 Rating: 93 Jane Anson, Decanter (May 2021)
This is a fine vintage for Branaire but it is an atypical one, too. Usually velvety and charming, the classic Branaire flavours are here but they are tense, angular and rather introverted. The acidity is bitingly fresh and the tannins are lined up ready for combat, but these two elements do not dare to interfere with the fruit. The oak is lovely, too, and so I am confident that this will be a hugely enjoyable wine down the line, but you will have to wait not only for the tannins to soften, but also for the fruit it drop its shoulders, too. Rating: 18+ Matthew Jukes www.matthewjukes.com (Jun 2021)
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.
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