Friday, January 3, 2020

Ducru Beaucaillou Birthyear Vintage

Château Ducru-Beaucaillou St Julien Bordeaux 1985 Birthyear Vintage

Celebrating son Sean's engagement to Michelle, Linda prepared a special dinner and I pulled from the cellar a special birthyear vintage bottle of this premium Bordeaux to celebrate. We hold more than a dozen vintages of Château Ducru-Beaucaillou dating back three decades including each of our kid's and their spouse's birthyears dating back to 1980.

Our visit to Château Ducru-Beaucaillou was one of the highlights of our trip to St Julien Bordeaux this summer where we had a personal tour and barrel sampled the current 2018 vintage.

Tonight we opened a 1985 vintage release to accompany Linda's dinner of grilled beef tenderloin, baked potatoes, cauliflower and fried onions and mushrooms. The pairing of the wine was perfect, especially with the mushrooms.

Our thirty-five year old bottle was in perfect condition with acceptable above neck fill level and a partially saturated but still intact cork. The provenance of the bottle dates back to acquisition upon the vintage release and being held in our cellar ever since. This is another testament to our cellar conditions for long term aging of fine wines.

As is my custom, I used an "Ah-so" two pronged cork puller to extract the cork and believe it may not have come out intact using a tradition cork screw.

Château Ducru-Beaucaillou St Julien Bordeaux 1985

Even at thirty years old, this was delicious, still at the apex of its drinking window and likely suitable for another decade of aging, showing no diminution whatsoever. It drank like a nicely aged ten year old! A testament to the age-worthiness of fine vintage Bordeaux.

Thirty years after acquisition we are being rewarded for buying Bordeaux during the 1980's, although, regretably, we have learned we consumed much of our collection to early and too young back in the nineties. We still hold several cases of this producer from the string of top vintages from 1981, 82, 83, 85, 86, 88, 89 and 1990 and are now enjoying these special vintage bottles on special occasions, such as tonight.

We also still hold several of these vintages in large format magnum (1.5l) and double magnums (3.0l). Our collection of large format birth year wines was the basis for our cellar being featured in Wine Spectator Collecting column back in June 2001.

To commemorate our visit to the Chateau, we recently conducted a vertical tasting of several vintages of Château Ducru-Beaucaillou with our 'Pour Boys Winers and Diners' wine group.

Looking back at critics' reviews for this release, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate wrote of this release in 2003, "the 1985 Ducru-Beaucaillou has a floral, cedary nose intermixed with red and black currants as well as flowers. The wine is fully mature and soft, with beautiful concentration and purity. It is not a blockbuster, and certainly not nearly as powerful and massive as the 1986, but it is certainly much more seductive." Parker gave the 1985 Ducru 92 points.

In 1996, James Suckling of Wine Spectator wrote, "Seductive and beautiful. Minty, rich and fruity aromas and flavors caress the palate and tickle the throat. Medium- to full-bodied, with super firm tannins and a long, silky finish. Drink now or hold; will improve with age."

The Zachy's wine team tasted this vintage release more recently and wrote, "We had this wine over dinner while in Bordeaux tasting the 2014s - easily one of the highlights of the entire trip. Perfectly mature and is currently drinking the way Bordeaux was intended to be consumed - with age and enough sweet fruit to complement the tertiary development. This wine is all about elegance, no hard edges, classic St Julien cedar, truffle, and damp earth are joined by tobacco and cinnamon. Tongue-staining, long finish. It is a wine that transports you back to old world style claret, where the wine doesn't clobber at 12.5% alcohol. It is truly a special treat to have this wine with this provenance and condition." Zachys Notes 95 Points, Zachys Buying Team. Zachy's wine mcrchant  show they hold this vintage release in stock available for purchase.

All those characteristics remain today as this releases holds on into its fourth decade.

Dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied, muted aromas on the nose but elegant, balanced and full flavored, bright and expressive on the palate with black currant fruits accented by sensuous floral, cedar, tobacco leaf, hints of damp earth with super firm tannins and a long, silky finish.

RM 93 points.

We hold a few more bottles of this release in a mixed case from the era and look forward to opening them in the coming year as we celebrate with family, friends, Sean and Michelle.

Like Zachys above, K&L Wine Merchants in the Bay Area, where we acquired much of this wine during the 1980's are showing they hold this vintage release wine in stock.