2012 Château Branaire-Ducru (Saint-Julien)
by JJ Buckley Fine Wines
On Sale $44.94 (reg. $54.94/ Online Avg $58)
Saint-Julien, located between Margaux and Pauillac, has no first growths but no shortage of Grand Cru Classé châteaux – not to mention many of the so-called Super Seconds. While the likes of Ducru-Beaucaillou and Léoville Las Cases command three-figure price tags, some of their neighbors still make some solid values.
Top of the “affordable” pile here is surely Branaire-Ducru, a classified growth that, per Vinous, “represents one of the best buys in Bordeaux wines today.” We’ve got a few cases of their undervalued 2012, an "elegant, well-made and an outstanding effort" that's sure to delight the most serious Bordeaux enthusiasts.
Branaire-Ducru neighbors a number of heavy hitters, notably Ducru-Beaucaillou and Beychevelle. Its prime terroir is one thing, though much of its recent success is due to the efforts of proprietor Patrick Maroteaux. According to Robert Parker, he “has been doing everything right since the late nineties” and “is pulling out all the stops to make Branaire as alluring as several of the Leovilles and Ducru Beaucaillou”. Maroteaux has made considerable investment, increased his overall vineyard holding and, crucially, cut yields significantly. Under his leadership, says Parker, Branaire-Ducru “continues to fine-tune and turn out a succession of brilliant wines”.
2012 won’t go down in history as a vintage-of-the-century contender, yet, per Parker, “there are some very successful wines because of tiny yields and Draconian-like selection process that most conscientious châteaux employ”. The “impeccably-run” Branaire-Ducru certainly fits that bill, and the result is an elegant and silky Saint-Julien that you can enjoy now, though will give pleasure for at least another decade. Cheers!