In a recent interview Robert Parker claimed that Bordeaux remains one of the ‘best value for money wine regions in the world’, surprising when one considers the soaring prices seen over the last ten years. However, there is a disparity in price between the five First Growths, the leading Second Growths and the top right bank when compared to other leading classified growths of Bordeaux. Outside of the mega brands incredible wines from famous estates in great vintages can be bought for under £50 a bottle, wines that are better than First Growths in normal vintages.
It is common knowledge that 2009 is a truly remarkable vintage, one to collect before it rises further in price. Perfect weather allowed winemakers the luxury of harvesting grapes when they decided there was perfect phenolic (tannin) and sugar ripeness, while maintaining harmonious acidity. Branaire Durcu, a Fourth Growth, made a staggering wine in 2009 that received 96 points from Parker.
Chateau Branaire Durcru 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 (Beychevelle scored 93 points in 2009). When the owner passed away he left the Estate behind in serious debt as a result the vineyard was broken up and sold as several estates.
The current owner of Branaire Ducru, Patrick Maroteaux, 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 quaternary 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.
To put their 2009 into perspective it is equal to three of the mega brands from another great year 2005, but at a fraction of the price (12x75cl cases):
Mouton Rothschild, 96 points – £4,200
Latour, 96 points – £7,100
Lafite Rothschild, 96+ points – £7,200
It is almost impossible to buy a 96 point Parker scoring Bordeaux for £40 a bottle yet in 2009 Branaire Ducru offers this. It is a wine to open blind at a dinner party and see if anyone can discern it from a First Growth or believe the price. Branaire Ducru 2009 is an incredible wine, from arguably the greatest ever Bordeaux vintage, offering First Growth quality for £50 a bottle, including VAT and duty.
Robert Parker 96 points, March 2012
Haut couture becomes a wine! This dense purple wine has the tell-tale notes of flowers and pencil shavings, and its broad aromatics are intense and totally captivating. Powerful, rich, and full, but less tannic than the 2005 and more opulent, this is a dazzling Branaire to drink between 2017-2035.
James Suckling, 95 Points, February 2012
Gorgeous aromas of dark berries and wet earth, with hints of graphite. Full body, with juicy, chewy tannins and a long rich, fruity, and succulent finish. Best ever from here. Try in 2019.