Château Branaire-Ducru, 2016 Update

Having recently discussed the four most recent vintages of Château Gazin, an estate too often overlooked, I come now to a left-bank château which could be said to suffer a rather similar fate. Château Branaire-Ducru occupies a very prominent position close to the D2 as it sweeps up from the flat marshland below onto the vine-encrusted gravel croupe. It is not quite as commanding a position as that enjoyed by Château Beychevelle, which sits almost opposite, overlooking the bend, nevertheless it certainly can not be ignored.

Château Branaire-Ducru

That the two properties ‘face off’ in this manner should not surprise us, if we know our Bordeaux history. The two châteaux were indeed once part of the same estate, at least until the mid-17th century when it was divided in order to pay off the debts of the then-proprietor. Today, Château Branaire-Ducru is run by the very capable Patrick Maroteaux, (pictured above) and the quality is very good. I recall the 2005 vintage as being exceptional, although there have been many other good wines since. Despite this the wines, as I have already hinted above, tend to be overshadowed by others in the appellation. Those looking for the best, sparing no expense, will go to Château Ducru-Beaucaillou or Château Léoville-Las-Cases, or perhaps one of the other more affordable Léoville estates. That’s fair enough. There are, however, other châteaux that to my mind do not match Château Branaire-Ducru in terms of the quality of their wines, names such as Château Gruaud-Larose or Château Talbot, for example, that still seem to have a higher profile among drinkers of Bordeaux. Quite why this is I have never fathomed; the quality of the wines suggest to me this domaine should be more widely sought-after.

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