Aug
17
2008

Chateau Branaire Duluc-Ducru 2004, 88 points

2004 Chateau Branaire (Duluc-Ducru)

(France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien)

Decanted for about 30 minutes. Dark red color. Old world nose with floral and fruit. This Chateau Branaire wine tasting did not knock my socks off but it was balanced and a quality nose. Palate was sour cherry and solid espresso. This wine seem to go stale a little fast. 15 minutes in the glass and went dead. The palate had hints of chocolate and tobacco notes. Wine had quality but not outstanding. Try if you like the bordeauxs but don’t run out to get it.

FROM THE WINE DOCTOR:

Chateau Beychevelle is one of the Medoc’s finest constructions, an 18th Century affair built in the style of Louis XV. The estate lies at the south-eastern tip of the St Julien commune, close to the town of Beychevelle, with near neighbours including Chateau St Pierre and Chateau Gloria. Its regal demeanour and luxuriant flowerbeds are fine viewed either from the road or from the Gironde, which is less than a mile away to the east.

Chateau Beychevelle

The origins of the estate are ancient and lie in the seigneurie of Lamarque, this being one of the locations Of the numerous fortified houses that lined the Gironde. In the early 15th Century it was in the hands of the de Grailly family, passing from them in 1446 to the Foix-Candale family, who also owned Chateau d’Issan. Under the tenure of this family the property was known as the Chateau de Médoc. In 1587 the land and property came into the hands of the Duc d’Epernon, Jean-Louis Nogaret de la Valette, when he married the heiress to the estate, Marguerite de Foix-Candale. It is said that it was this duke that was responsible for the renaming of the estate as Beychevelle. As well as ruling the locals with an iron rod as Governor of Guyenne, the Duke also became an admiral of the French navy, and French ships sailing on the Gironde – of which there must have been many, Bordeaux being a significant port – were required to lower their sails in respect. This act – baisse voile in French, bacha velo in the Gascon tongue – led to the name Beychevelle. It’s a fanciful story, one that bestows some honour on Nogaret, and unsurprisingly there are doubts about its authenticity. After all, it seems likely that ships would lower sails as they approached the port of Bordeaux anyway, regardless of the presence of a nearby chateau-dwelling admiral.

With the passing of time both the estate and the title was passed to the next generation, and it was the son Bernard that became the next Duc d’Epernon. Like his father before him he paid little interest in in viticulture at the estate, and when he died in 1642 he left behind him a handsome collection of unpaid debts. In order to satisfy the demands of his creditors, his estate was sold off. What was to become Chateau Beychevelle was purchased by the Duc de Rendan, before passing to the Abbadie family who seemed to continue the theme of neglect, although it was probably under their direction that the vineyard was established. Nevertheless they also sold the estate, this time the new owner was Marquis François-Etienne de Brassier. The marquis was responsible for today’s fine chateau, completing in 1757 a reconstruction and development of what previous owners had erected during the previous century. He also reunited much of the estate, purchasing parcels of land which had been sold off after the Duc d’Epernon’s death, and had a healthy interest in horticulture and viticulture. The former is evidenced by the fine gardens, on which every visitor seems to comment, and the latter by the construction of a vat house during his tenure.

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