|Grower:|| Branaire Ducru|
|Size:|| BT (75cl)|
|Available:|| In bond|
|Drink:|| 2017 - 2035||
70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot
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.
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (199)
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70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, Petit VerdotCabernet Sauvignon:
Despite being so prominent in the winemaking industry, the origins of this variety were shady up until the 1990s. Prior to this, many felt that the variety was ancient origin – perhaps even the Biturcia grape used to make ancient Roman wine. However, these romanticised and altogether dubious origins were placed on the shelf when DNA typing, undertaken by the UC David Department of Viticulture and Enology, determined that Cabernet Sauvignon was the offspring of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc – most probably due to a chance crossing in the 17th century.
Cabernet Sauvignon can grow in various different climates and soil types – in fact the wine usually gives a sense of the terroir in the taste. Naturally prone to vigorous yields, winemakers must be careful not to compromise the quality of the wine. Practices such as using less vigorous rootstock, green harvesting and aggressive pruning of grape clusters ensure lower yields.
This variety is most famously found in Bordeaux blends and thrives on the gravelly soils of the Medoc, being both well drained whilst also radiating heat to the vines. However, internationally varietals are very common – especially in warmer climates.
Used for both blending and varietal wines, Merlot is the foremost grape in the Bordeaux. Merlot wines usually have a medium body with hints of berry, plum and currant. Its softness and fleshiness, combined with earlier ripening, makes Merlot a popular grape for blending with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, with its higher tannin levels. Its name comes from the Occitan word “merlot” which means “young blackbird” – a nod towards the grape’s beautiful dark-blue colour. An offspring of Cabernet Franc (and therefore a sibling of Cabernet Sauvignon), it was first mentioned in 1784 where a labelled wine made from the grape attracted praise from all quarters.
The grape can easily be identified by its loose bunches of large, plump grapes. The colour is less or a blue/black hue than Cabernet Sauvignon and it has a thinner skin, with correspondingly fewer tannins. Pruning has a massive impact on the outcome of the wine, with reduced yields giving higher quality wine. Merlot has a propensity to quickly over ripen after hitting its initial ripeness level, sometimes in a matter of a few days. The renowned Chateau Petrus favours early picking to ensure acidity and ageing potential, while other growers favour late picking and the added fruitiness that comes with the additional ripeness of the fruit.
Merlot is now the most commonly grown grape in France, which claims two thirds of the world’s total Merlot cultivation.
Cabernet Franc is one of the major red grape varieties worldwide, principally being grown for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Bordeaux style, but can also be vinified alone, as is the case with the Loire’s Chinon.
As might be expected it is in general it is very similar to its offspring Cabernet Sauvignon, however it buds and ripens at least a week earlier. This allows the vine to thrive in slightly cooler climates, such as the Loire and even Canada. The winged bunches are elongate and small-medium in size, with the berries being quite small and blue-black in colour, with fairly thin skins. The grape is highly yield sensitive, with over-cropping producing wines with more green, vegetal notes than is usual.
In France it is found predominantly in the Loire Valley and in the Libournais region of the Bordeaux. As of 2000, it was the sixth most widely planted red grape variety in the country. Internationally speaking it can be found in Italy, Canada, and the USA in significant quantities. Interestingly in the USA it is used by ‘Meritage’ wines that aim to emulate the Bordeaux blend in California, while in Canada it is used to produce superlative ice wines with immensely concentrated flavours.
Petit Verdot is thought to be native to western Bordeaux, likely present in the Médoc well before Cabernet Sauvignon and probably more prevalently grown. Plantings are sparse today but where it is grown, the variety’s contribution is significant.
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In Bordeaux Petit Verdot is confined to the left bank of the Gironde, where the deep gravel soils are warmer than the clay soils of the right bank. It ripens extremely late, after Cabernet Sauvignon, and in cool years may not ripen at all, or only irregularly. Wet growing seasons also work to its disadvantage. Hardy but not prolific, the Petit Verdot vine produces small, spherical, thick skinned berries of intense blue-black color, high in tannin, alcohol, acidity and phenolics, or flavoring elements.
In the Médoc, in those properties where it is planted at all, it usually represents less than ten percent of the vines. Its grudging cooperation in the vineyard is likely why it is not more prevalent, since it is an excellent contributor of color, structure, fragrance and fruit density, though it lacks finesse. On its own, in warmer climates, it yields a dark, firmly structured, tannic wine of superb acidic balance with full, fresh, spice, pepper and black fruit flavors and aromas offset by an impression of violets. Also grown in Italy, Spain, California, Australia, Chile and Argentina.
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Nestled between Pauillac and Margaux, the wines of Saint Julien are toned down in power compared to the robust produce of Pauillac while slightly less robust than those of Saint-Estephe. Saint Julien wines are balanced and incredibly aromatic. This is a product of the unique terroir – a layer of gravel that forces the roots of the vines to sink deeper to find nutrients, while also retaining heat to protect against the Oceanic climate.
Type of wine produced:
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc
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A truly phenomenal year for the Left Bank, where the dominant, late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon really flourished in the warm, dry climate. The softer, more alcoholic Merlot had less success on the Left Bank (with some growers finding themselves with 15.5% alcohol wines), but still enjoyed a fantastic year – 2009 really is about degrees of success, rather than hits or misses. However, if the Right Bank needed fine-tuning to achieve perfection, the Right Bank has it in spades:
“The finest 2009 left bank reds managed to be unequivocally Bordeaux - no "Napa Valley" or "New Worldy" in the tasting notes - while harnessing 2009's exceptional natural bounty: a dry, warm-but-not-scorching summer that lasted until mid-September when a downpour revitalised vines that were on the point of suffering from the prolonged drought. This was followed by another long, unusually fine period.” – Jancis Robinson, MW.
Jancis Robinson wrote that “The perfect 2009 red bordeaux - and there are many of them, at all levels and from virtually all appellations - are exceptionally luscious and were an absolute delight to taste, but still have that quintessentially Girondin raciness, appetising quality, capacity to age and imprint of terroir that distinguishes the best of them from Cabernets, Merlots and Bordeaux blends produced elsewhere” adding also with respect to the top wines in particular..” I have never given so many really high scores when tasting en primeur anywhere..”
"It may turn out to be the finest vintage I have tasted in 32 years of covering Bordeaux.” - Robert Parker (Click here to close this window)