branaire

Today’s offer is an absolute bargain that I discovered by chance while in Bordeaux tasting the 2017s from barrel. This is a really cool, fascinating wine in its own right but to make it a little more interesting- this is priced so far below its usual price that I’m seriously not allowed to list the price on our website. This is the very definition of an e-mail ‘special’. At $20 compared with an average Wine-Searcher price of $37, this is terribly close to half price!

This is not all about price though- it’s a parcel of the rarely seen ‘Haut-Médoc’ wine made by St Julien superstar Château Branaire-Ducru. The Branaire team make this at the Château, from a small section of just 3.5 hectares of vines across the border from the St Julien appellation. Many of these ‘house’ wines made by the great Bordeaux estates simply come from young vines or fruit that for whatever reason just hasn’t delivered well enough to be used in the top wines of a particular vintage. This one benefits greatly from having its own vines and its own personality, while of course being made by the hands of masters.

2014 Le Haut Médoc de Branaire Ducru, Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux

Many of you will know that 2014 was a beautiful vintage in Bordeaux and particularly the Médoc. Much lighter and fresher than the big juicy wines of 2015, this is drinking beautifully already. The weighty, dark fruited nose belies the gorgeous sense of lightness on the palate. This has classic hints of cedar, spice and blackcurrant, and finishes fresh and minerally with an impressively lengthy finish for a wine of this price. This is good value at its regular price- at $20 it is an insane bargain.

branaire

More about the wine:

Branaire Ducru itself is one of my favourite Châteaux. It’s one of the sadly dwindling number of Grand Cru Classé estates that is owned and run by a family rather than a ‘business’. I am extremely fond of the current young owner François Xavier Maroteaux, who has sadly only just taken over the Château on his father Patrick’s untimely death at the age of just 67 following an illness. Patrick was an owner who had an unusually sound understanding of the international marketplace and where pricing should be, leading to Branaire being one of the most well loved and well priced great estates of the Left Bank. I chatted with François Xavier recently and the line he said that stuck with me was simply that ‘We continue the story…’. Everything that I have seen from him convinces me that he is more than capable of taking what is already a wonderful story and continuing it further. I can see the passion and love for his estate in everything he says and does.

His father, who was also president of both the Union des Grands Cru and of the St Julien appellation, Patrick was a groundbreaking owner throughout the 90s, introducing several winemaking practices (notably the exclusive use of gravity rather than pumps in the winery) that would become widespread amongst the finest producers. All sorts of other improvements were made in both the vineyard and the winery, and by the 21st century these were paying serious dividends and extraordinary wine was being made.

As well as their ever magnificent first wine, I’m a huge fan of their second, ‘Duluc’, and while this, (which I guess is technically their third) was new to me. While the price of this parcel was a pleasant surprise, the fact that it was absolutely delicious was not. Passionate and innovate owners with world class winemakers working with grapes from Haut-Médoc in a world class winery in a vintage like 2014 for $20? Load up!