In the 17th Century Ducru Beaucaillou and Branaire Ducru were both part of the Beychevelle estate. However, upon the death of Bernard de Valette in 1642, the Beychevelle estate was broken up to pay off his debts. The then named Maucaillou estate was purchased in 1720 by the Bergeron family. The estate’s name was derived from the French words ‘mauvaise’ and ‘cailloux’ meaning ‘bad pebbles’, however this could not be further from the truth. The estate’s vineyards were strewn with these large pebbles which were key to their wine’s success which soon won critical acclaim. As a result, Bergeron changed the name to Beaucaillou meaning ‘beautiful pebbles.’

Following Jacques de Bergeon’s death, the estate was bought in 1797 by Betrand Ducru – and Ducru Beaucaillou was born. Bertrand’s children, Gustave and Marie Louise, inherited Ducru and they jointly ran the estate for 30 years. The Parisian architect, Paul Abadie, was employed to renovate the residence, building a new chateau and cellar for ageing the barrels. Gustave also embarked on a major replanting of the vineyards and in 1855 the hard work was rewarded when Ducru Beaucaillou was ranked Deuxième Cru Classé.

In 1857, Gustave bought Branaire from his cousin and gave Ducru to Marie Louise in 1860. She sold the estate in 1866 to Lucie Caroline Dassier – whose husband was Nathanial Johnston, a famous Bordeaux wine merchant. Sadly, following the economic turmoil of the First World War, the Bolshevik revolution, Prohibition in America and the Wall Street Crash in 1929, Johnston was forced to sell the estate. During this period there was very little investment and the wines produced were poor, tarnishing Ducru Beaucaillou’s reputation. The estate was sold yet again following the Nazi occupation of France to Francis Borie, a wine merchant from Correze.

Today, Ducru Beaucaillou is still run by the Borie family. The three generations of the family who have been at the helm have invested in the estate, introducing chateau bottling, increasing the density of planting and producing a second label – Le Croix de Beaucaillou. The estate’s reputation has been restored to its former glory. Since 2003, their Grand Vin only uses grapes from the vineyards adjacent to the Chateau. This has resulted in a sharp reduction in production size, from 20,000 to 10,000 cases a year yet the quality means that Ducru Beaucaillou now competes with Leoville Las Cases for the title of the finest Super Second in St Julien. Its wines are poised and elegant, and are reminiscent of the power only found in the finest vintages of the past.

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