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. DR
The 2016 Branaire-Ducru is a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc picked from 28 September until 19 October at 50 hectoliters per hectare, one of the longest harvest periods at the estate. 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. Drink Date 2023 - 2050
Juicy, savoury nose. Fresh and fine-boned. Could only be bordeaux – tant mieux! Silky texture with some energy. Drink 2026-2043
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.
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. Tasted two times.
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.
Comparatively closed at this stage, as it was in 2015, this is a firm, concentrated, structured wine that has its eye on the future rather than the present. Sturdy and dense, this is a wine to forget about for at least eight years. 2025-32
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.