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Chateau Branaire-Ducru

ch-branaire-ducru.jpgThe fourth-growth Branaire-Ducru has really hit it's straps since the late 1990s, and today represents one of the great value wines from classified growths.  The property was born of the late 17th century split of Beychevelle (which also resulted in Ducru-Beaucaillou's creation) and today has vineyard holdings throughout St.-Julien.  It is located opposite Chateau Beychevelle, and the pair are the first Chateaux you see as you enter St.-Julien.


Branaire consists of 50 hectares of vines, planted roughly to 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 3% petit Verdot, with an average vine age of more than 35 years (including some near 100 year-old vines).  Much of the vineyards are planted on very stony soils, and all harvests are down by hand.


branaire-vats.jpgBranaire has modern, well-equipped cellars, and although winemaking is rather traditional all the small steps possible are taken to ensure and improve wine quality, such as the use of gravity rather than pumping.  The grapes are sorted first in the vineyards and again upon reception to the winery, and there is no implementation of cold soaking or concentration of the musts.  Fermentations are undertaken in large, temperature-controlled stainless steel vats prior to the wine ageing for nearly two years in oak barrels, 50% of which are new, and all only light or medium toast.  The emphasis at every stage is to let the Chateau's terroir shine through first and foremost.

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