The French elections are over, the “Fête de la Victoire” was celebrated yesterday and Ch Branaire Ducru, St Julien’s star performing Fourth Growth estate, is straight out of the blocks this morning with their 2016 release at £465.
There is plenty to celebrate… The appellation of St Julien can make a strong case for making the Médoc’s most exciting wines in 2016. At the Union des Grands Crus tasting there wasn’t a poor wine amongst them. They possessed everything one seeks: the balance between deep brooding structure and the hints of finesse and grace, which distinguishes the appellation from its neighbours.
The delightful father and son team of Patrick and François-Xavier Maroteaux have made an exemplary wine. It’s in Branaire’s DNA to create a wine of controlled power, and their 2016 shows this beautifully. Without excess, it has a delicious touch of refinement, and the balancing bite of freshness that is such a characteristic of the vintage. Classically St Julien and most definitely designed for ageing.
Ch Branaire Ducru 4ème Cru St Julien 2016
£465.00 per 12 IB
£475.00 per 6 magnums IB
Patrick Maroteaux and his son François-Xavier make a great team; this excellent 2016 highlights their attention to detail and perfectionism. Sweet dark youthful plum fruits on the nose, in the palate there are hints of liquorice and cinnamon. Full of explosive flavours, slightly less buxom than some vintages of Branaire, which creates an harmonious and approachable style. Excellent. Drink 2025-2036. 92-94 points, Goedhuis & Co
Branaire-Ducru is gorgeous in 2016. A rush of inky blue/purplish fruit, licorice, violet, lavender and dark spices give the wine its rich, textured feel. Gracious and nuanced, in the classic Branaire style, the 2016 possesses lovely depth and sensuality, with no hard edges and terrific overall balance. Time in the glass brings out the wine’s more floral and spiced notes. Above all else, Branaire is a wine of finesse despite its considerable intensity. It is also arguably the most polished of the Saint-Juliens. 92-95 points. Antonio Galloni
The nose is quite intense with black fruit infused with pencil shaving and a touch of tobacco, unashamedly classic in style, a little distant compared to some other Saint Juliens but undeniably well defined and full of character. The palate is structured and masculine, exerting a firm grip in the mouth, spicier than its peers with cracked black pepper complementing the black fruit, tobacco and smoke towards the structured finish. There is great length here, very persistent in the mouth, a little “rougher” in texture than others, but that will be smoothed out during élevage and in bottle. Give this Branaire-Ducru five or six years in bottle because it has great potential, one of the best produced at the estate in recent years. 92-94 points, Neal Martin
A brilliant Branaire and one of the most shocking and memorable wines of the week, there are stunning aromatics here and a huge finish. This is a triumph for this estate and I love the way it gives the illusion of being a richer wine but it is a focussed, epically balanced creation. The nose is heroic and this alone warrants a huge score. That the finish is also sublime makes this one of the hidden gems of the Left Bank in 2016. 18.5+ points, Matthew Jukes
This is clearly the best wine I have tasted from Branaire-Ducru. Exquisite depth and richness are on offer, yet this is always framed and focused. Layers of fruit and tannins. So deep and long. Incredible quality. 95-96 points, James Suckling