Chateau Batailley, which released today, is unquestionably one of the best value wines in Bordeaux’s illustrious Pauillac appellation and has consistently produced a classic and refined style of claret for centuries. Jane Anson of Decanter awarded the 2020 vintage with 94 points describing it as a “signature Batailley in that it has that essence-of-Pauillac feel. A delicious wine, such a great great drinking claret, really one to look out for in this vintage; already looking forward to drinking this in 10 years time.” James Suckling admires Batailley as “classically structured with a wonderful finish of extremely polished tannins and an ultra long finish. So much blackcurrant, spice and cedar. Seamless.” Chateau Batailley is released today at £168 per case of 6 or £336 per case of 12, which is on par with last year’s release.
Chateau Batailley is the quintessential Grand Cru claret with all the necessary elements to make prodigious wine each year. It is located in the village of Pauillac, directly behind the leading Second Growths, Pichon Lalande and Pichon Baron, which are in turn behind Chateau Latour. Batailley, therefore, rests on the gravel plateau which defines the great wines from this appellation. The 55 hectares of Chateau Batailley’s Cabernet Sauvignon dominant vineyards are on an excellently situated plateau just to the west of First Growth Mouton Rothschild. The name of the Chateau is said to be derived from a “bataille” fought 600 years ago between the French and the English on the very grounds of the Chateau.
Also released today is Chateau Branaire Ducru, offered at £186 per case of 6 or £372 per case of 12, a minor increase to last year’s price. The wine has been awarded 93-94 points by James Suckling who describes it as: “A polished, creamy red with blue fruit, such as blackcurrants, and pretty, ripe and fine tannins that fill your mouth.” Jane Anson states that this is a classical Branaire showing plenty of character: “Blueberry, blackberry, damson and hawthorn, this has juice and tannins with an elegance and really excellent St-Julien character; A lovely Branaire, well placed.” Branaire Ducru is located on the southern border of St Julien across from Beychevelle (also a Fourth Growth). In fact, Branaire Ducru’s rich history dates back to the 1860s, when it was part of the large Beychevelle estate. At £31 a bottle and with 93-94 points, this is an offer not to be missed, considering that the average price for a vintage with 92 points or above is £500 a case.
The current owner of Branaire Ducru, is François-Xavier Maroteaux, who took over from his father Patrick in 2017. Patrick bought the Estate in 1988 and subsequently has invested heavily in technology and carried out extensive work in the vineyards and cellar. Branaire Ducru was the first left bank wine to start filling their tanks entirely by gravity, which minimises damage to grapes. The grapes are then fermented for three weeks in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. Once fermentation is complete they are transferred to age for 18-24 months in 65% new oak. As a result since 2000 Brainaire Durcu has entered the ranks of the leading St Julien wines offering exceptional quality. The terroir of the 60 hectare Estate is found on deep gravel soil rich in clay. The vineyard plantings are devoted to Cabernet Sauvignon 70%, with 20% Merlot and balanced with Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The average vine age is 35 years old and the vineyard is hand-harvested producing 15,000 cases a year.