An explosive, balletic attack of late-summer red cassis and dark, brambly berries rushes the palate, followed up by forest floor, sweet butterscotch, and pumpernickel notes.
Our love for Château Ducru-Beaucaillou dates back to 1983. Soon after the opening of the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia, we were invited to a private tasting of 1961 Bordeaux. The day’s lineup would include 28 wines from what most at the time believed to be the greatest vintage since 1929.
We’ll never forget the 1961 Château Petrus, Latour à Pomerol, Latour, or Haut-Brion — we’ll never forget, even though we were many sheets to the wind! No one was spitting into the spittoons! The Saint-Julien entries included Léoville-Las Cases, Léoville-Barton, Gruaud-Larose, and Beychevelle. But the wine that stole our hearts was the 1961 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou. If you can find a bottle today, prepare to shell out $1,000.
That 1961 sent us on what’s now almost a quarter-century hunt for classic Bordeaux that could approach that bottle’s elegance and purity. After a late-’80s slump, the most heralded château in Saint-Julien rebounded to surpass even its former heights — and prices soared accordingly. The precious bottles we’ve stashed in our cellars will be saved for special occasions.
As the crown jewel of the Borie Family properties, Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou has always been held up by critics and aficionados as a “super second” — one of the few Clarets that regularly post scores as high (if not higher) than the First Growths of Bordeaux. In 2010, that meant a perfect 100-point score for Ducru-Beaucaillou from James Suckling, and a 98+ from Robert Parker, outpointing Mouton-Rothschild and tying Château Lafite.
In 1995, Ducru-Beaucaillou rolled out a second label, La Croix de Beaucaillou, that allowed us to appreciate the Borie family’s winemaking prowess without cellaring for decades, at prices we could afford. Best of all, there’s no skimping when it comes to La Croix — this wine spends over a year in an expensive collection of 60% new French oak barrels.
Parker has awarded Ducru-Beaucaillou multiple 95+ ratings, including a perfect 100-point score for the 2009. No wonder The Wine Advocate writes that Ducru winemaker Bruno Borie “has done a remarkable job.” Borie brings the same attention to detail and out-of-the-box thinking to “La Croix.”
Most young Bordeaux is often restrained and tannic in its youth. Drinking it can be about as much fun as chewing on wood chips, but not the wines of St.-Julien, especially those crafted by Bruno Borie, which always evince a charming florality and velvety quality to their tannins.
In 2010, a St.-Julien vintage that pulled down matching 98-point ratings from BOTH Parker and Antonio Galloni’s Vinous, Borie’s expertise was on full display. James Suckling, former European bureau chief of Wine Spectator, called the 2010 La Croix de Beaucaillou “full and silky with beautiful texture and length,” and scored it 92-93 points.
The 2010 La Croix de Beaucaillou is dark ruby-red, hinting purple in the glass. On the nose, ripe red and black plum swirl around the classic Bordeaux notes of cedar, bay leaf, tobacco, and vanillin. A balletic attack of late-summer red cassis and dark, brambly berries rushes the palate, followed up by forest floor, sweet butterscotch, and pumpernickel notes. A long, perfumed finish is driven more by acid than tannin.
If you’re a lover of classic drinkable St.-Julien Claret and all the winemaking expertise of a super second, hit “Buy” now before all 180 bottles of our allocation disappear. $70/bottle.