Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou: 1995-2021

Written by Megan McDonald

While attending the Master of Wine Stage 2 Seminar at Odney, in the UK, I had the real pleasure of listening in on a session with Tracey Dobbin MW on the wines of Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou. Collectors know Ducru Beaucaillou as an outstanding Grand Cru Classe property in Saint Julien, one that has been recognized in the unofficial “Super Second” category.

Saint Julien, among the other lauded communes from the Medoc, is known for producing some of the most consistent, and hence recognizable styles of claret. A mid-point between Margaux and Pauillac, Saint Julien wines are slightly more fine-boned than the former with more generosity than the latter. What is unique to Saint Julien, is that overall it is the commune with the highest percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, giving wines with marked blackberry and cassis aromatics and high levels of fine, firm tannins.

The group tasted through Ducru’s full portfolio, including 2021 Madame de Beaucaillou (Haut Medoc), 2021 Le Petit Ducru de Ducru Beaucaillou, 2021 La Croix Ducru Beaucaillou, and finishing with a vertical of the Grand Vin from 2021, 2017, 2006, and 1995.

While Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou is the main focus of this article, a mention should be made to the relative value of Le Croix Ducru, Le Petit Ducru, and Madame de Beaucaillou. The wines are incredibly well built, with fruit sourced from plots just outside of the estate vineyards which surround the Chateau (and fruit declassified from Ducru Beaucaillou). The Madame de Beaucaillou and Le Petit Ducru wines see 12 months in up to 30% new French oak and sit between $25-$35 USD. The official second wine, Le Croix Ducru, spends 16 months in up to 60% new French oak and is priced around $75. These are wines that should absolutely be considered for everyday drinking or while waiting for the Grand Vin to mature into an appropriate drinking window.

The Grand Vins:


With a staggering 98% Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, the 2021 Ducru displayed ripe blackberry and cassis fruits in abundance. Sleek and compact, the marked primary fruits are overlaid with notes of clove and toast. It is clear that with time the 100% new French oak will become finely interwoven, however its tightly grained tannins will need 7-8 years in bottle before it enters its drinking window. Traditional leafy aromatics, lifted acidity and 12.5% abv are telling of the cooler vintage, but resonant of classic Bordeaux vintages gone by. An excellent wine with fragrance and class.


I was delighted to see the 2017 vintage in the lineup, simply to put it in context with the powerful 2015 and 2016 which preceded it, and the hot 2018 vintage which followed it. It was an exceptional wine. It might not have the fleshiness of 2018, but the black fruits have impressive depth and precision, which are accentuated by notes of violet, spearmint, crushed stone, and graphite. The 100% new French oak is beginning to integrate, similar to its high levels of fine, firm tannins. It will need 5-6 more years in bottle. There are some critics who refer to the 2017 Ducru as one of the wines of the vintage, and with good reason.


Of the flight, 2006 was easily the most opulent. It was a “middle of the road” year weather-wise, which started hot and dry and finished cool and damp. There seems to be no evidence of any inconsistency in the wine, however. Plump cherry and cassis fruits are lifted by capsicum and pencil lead, evidence of dominant (75%) Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. The acidity refreshed the fruit and the tannins, while firm and slightly grainier than the younger two wines, are well digested. Notes of vanilla and toast add to the wine’s richness and charm. It may not see the same longevity as some top vintages, but it is drinking beautifully now and will do so over the next 10 years.


With nearly 30 years in the bottle, the 1995 vintage was simply stunning. An exciting contrast to the youthful expression of the 2021. Interesting to note the unusual blend in this vintage: 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot. This was the last year the winery included Petit Verdot and the same year the new cellar was built.

The wine has a nose of violet, fresh and dried blackberries, and subtle mintiness, alongside layers of truffle and leather. Its acidity is delicate and its tannins, despite being from a vintage whose tannins have struggled to integrate, are silky and seamless. It is still drinking well now and will hold another 10-15+ years.

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Megan McDonald
Senior Client Manager
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