2013 Branaire-Ducru, St-Julien
This is a correct St. Julien with fine colour and good depth. ABV is 13.5%. On nose, violets, blackberry, espresso, cedar notes. On palate, tight, and dense, minerally and high-pitched, with blackberry, spice and coffee flavors nicely carried by smooth tannins(by now)and brisk acidity. We feel that the structure of this wine plays significantly than the fruit, so tasters (Julia Harding, Jeannie Cho-Lee, and Stephan Tanzers)logically looked into the austerity (tannins, greenness), particularly so when they were writing about the wine during its EP tasting. We believe, however, this wine certainly will be even better in the not-too-distant future, and this wine a correct investment.
The 60 hectare vineyard of Branaire Ducru is a 4th Growth St Julien in the 1855 Classification. The terroir is deep gravel with clay soils. The vineyard is planted to 70% Cabernet-Sauvignon, 22% Merlot , 4% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot . On average, the vines are close to 35 years of age. But the estate has older vines as well. The oldest vines date back close to 90 years of age, hence always the density and longevity of wine. The vineyard is planted to a vine density that ranges from 6,700 to 10,000 vines per hectare. The higher levels of vine density are for the newer plantings.
At Chateau Branaire Ducru, fermentation takes place in 28 temperature controlled, stainless steel tanks. The 28 vats vary in size. The vats range in size from as small as 30 hectoliters and go all the way up to 210 hectoliters. Each vat is sized for the needs of each specific vineyard parcel. Each vat is filled using a gravity based system. Alcoholic fermentation takes place at temperatures between 26 to 28 degrees Celsius. The average length of maceration lasts about 21 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place in tank. The press wine is aged separately.
The wine of Chateau Branaire Ducru is aged in 60 to 65% new, French oak barrels for between 16-20 months, hence always the whip cream element and spicy from wood. The amount of new oak varies depending on the quality, character and style of the vintage. On average, the production is slightly more than 25,000 cases of Branaire Ducru each year. There is a second wine , Duluc de Branaire Ducru.
Wines from Chateau Branaire-Ducru has always been controversial. Branaire Ducru 2013 is no exception. Otherwise this wine would not have been the wine of heated debate in the short story “Taste” written in 1953 by the famous author, Roald Dahl, in which two wine lovers are arguing on a bottle of Branaire Ducru during a blind tasting!
Scores are consistent. Price is excellent. Palate will improve significantly, and is really decent by now.
93 points Wine Enthusiast
This estate has produced an impressive wine for the vintage. It balances acidity, tarry wood flavors and ripe black-berry fruits. Initially it is still showing its structure more than fruit, although this will even out as it matures. (RV) (3/2016)
92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The dense ruby/purple-colored 2013 Branaire Ducru reveals a floral, blueberry and raspberry-scented nose that leans toward the bluer/redder fruit spectrum indicative of a cooler year. The tannins are sweet; the wine is medium-bodied; and the texture is impressive in this pure, long effort. (RP) (8/2014)
91 points James Suckling
Some currant and cooked plum character, underlying dried flowers. Medium to full body, fine tannins and a fresh finish. Balanced and pretty. (2/2016)
90 points Wine Spectator
This offers perfumed blackberry and black currant fruit, lined with licorice root and fruitcake notes that give way to a grippy, brambly finish. Just a touch chewy at the very end, but this should soften soon enough. Stylish overall. (JM) (3/2016)