Château Branaire Ducru
Classification: Fourth Growth (4ème Cru Classé)
Château Branaire Ducru is tucked away in the south eastern most part of the Saint Julien. Its close neighbours are Château Beychevelle and Château Pierre. Château Branaire Ducru was once part of Château Beychevelle but became separate in the 17th century when the estate was partitioned. The other Château that was formed from this division was Château Beaucaillou. Château Branaire Ducru takes its name from Jean Baptiste Braneyre who purchased it in 1680 and from the Duluc family. The Château survived the French revolution despite several of its owners family being arrested and is now owned by the Maroteaux family. Château Branaire Ducru has developed a regimen of strictly applying classical methods but giving them a modern twist. The wine making facility was modernized in the last years of the 20th century and the design places a particular emphasis on the use of gravity to move the wine rather than mechanical pumps. This was the first real application of gravity in a winery in modern Bordeaux.
Château Branaire Ducru's vineyards run west-east in several plots close to the château, over typical Médoc terroir of Garonne alluvial gravels. There are 120 acres in all, planted with 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot. The proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend is one of the highest in the Médoc. The average age of the vines is 40 years, although there are many vines approaching a century. The vineyards of Branaire Ducru have a relatively low yield of grapes. This is thought to be due to their age as well as the stress placed on the vines by the very gravelly soil. In an effort to limit the yield from the vines without 'green harvesting', grass is allowed to grow between the rows. This has the effect of limiting the surface water and forcing the vines to develop deep root systems.
Château Branaire Ducru is a splendid mix of power, elegance and subtlety. The wines are well balanced and tend to be 'fruit-forward' in style but have the structure to require at least a decade of ageing before the wine really shows it's true nature. They have great aromatic power with notes of spice, cocoa and pepper and the wines are silken in the mouth.
Owner: Patrick Maroteaux
Château Website: www.branaire.com
Oenologist: Jacques Boissenot