Sweet juicy, succulent black fruits. This was a slightly less bold style of Branaire than I had expected, but it more than makes up for it with a lovely harmony and deliciously full finish.
The Château Branaire-Ducru is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc picked between 24 September with the early-ripening Merlot, and finishing on 11 October. The yields came in at 40 hectoliters per hectare and Patrick Maratoux explained the importance of waiting for the correct maturity of each parcel. It has a tightly wound bouquet with black cherries and orange peel aromas, focused if not quite as complex as say, Château Beychevelle. The palate is medium-bodied, sinewy in the mouth with tensile tannins. This is a wine that seems to be making a huge effort in this vintage, but I would like to see more finesse manifested on the finish by the time it is in bottle. You know, I think that will develop. That 12 to 13% vin de presse lends this Branaire Ducru impressive sustain on the finish and I suspect that it will coalesce throughout the barrel ageing in two-thirds new oak (though the sample shown at the château was 100% new oak).
Dark crimson. Energetic nose. Fairly light palate without that much concentration. Round, with less tannic charge than most. Serviceable. A little scrawny on the finish. Drink 2022-2030
Focused and a touch austere for now, with a charcoal edge to the core of black currant and steeped fig fruit. Tobacco and bramble notes check in on the finish, and there's solid acidity in reserve. Well-built and should evolve nicely.
This really builds on the palate with round and velvety tannins and a juicy, savory finish. Layered and complex. Shows real potential.
The 2014 Branaire Ducru is beautifully textured in the glass. Lavender, plum, mint and spice open up nicely in the glass. Initially quite dense and powerful, the 2014 turns more floral and lifted over time. Sweet red cherry, graphite, violet and licorice add further shades of dimension on the finish. Creamy, silky tannins add to an overall impression of sophistication. The style is round, supple and quite giving, even at this early stage. Tasted three times.
Very well-expressed ripe Cabernet fruit with elegant structure and good length. Never showy at the start of its life, this is a classic Branaire that needs to age. Drink: 2019-2030
(65 Cabernet Sauvignon, 27 Merlot, 6 Petit Verdot, 2 Cabernet Franc) Typically plush and silky this is a lovely and refreshing Branaire with delicious fruit and a long finish. The oak is perfectly judged and the tannins are fit as a fiddle. The depth of fruit and harmony in the blend is magnetic. This Château always impresses and in 2014 this is a charming wine.
Across the road from Beychevelle lies Château Branaire Ducru. Until 1988, the entire production was sold in France through the Nicolas chain of wine shops. A change in ownership fortunately also changed that policy and Branaire Ducru now takes its rightful place on the international marketplace. Like most Médoc wines, the core of the blend is Cabernet Sauvignon and intensive work in the vineyard ensures optimum ripeness. Château Branaire Ducru aims for a balance of elegance and complexity - a trend which has been apparent since 1989, the vintage after its current owner, Patrick Maroteaux, purchased the château.
St Julien is like the middle child of the Médoc - not as assertive as Pauillac or as coquettish as Margaux. It lies firmly between the two more outspoken communes and as a result produces a blend of them both. St Julien's wines have often been sought out by aficionados for their balance and consistency, particularly in the UK. Yet due to its middle child nature, it can occasionally be overlooked globally and as a result underrated by those markets outside the UK. Despite the fact that it has no first growths, it has several second growths including Léoville Las Cases, Léoville Barton, Léoville Poyferré and Ducru Beaucaillou as well as the celebrated châteaux such as Talbot and Beychevelle.