A great symbol of the Médoc and the Saint-Julien appellation, Château Ducru-Beaucaillou is a majestic Victorian-style château and a classified Second Growth. The Borie family, who took ownership in 1941, is the fifth family to helm the estate, and Bruno Borie is the third generation of Bories to run it, which he has done now since 2003. Significantly reducing the quantity of wine made, Borie carefully analyzed the property’s plots to select the top sites for Ducru-Beaucaillou. The winning plots fall on the bank of the Gironde estuary and are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Vinfolio spoke with Borie about what this historic estate means to him, how he’s developed the estate over the years, and his favorite way to enjoy a glass of the Ducru’s top vin.
You have a deep history with Château Ducru-Beaucaillou—how does it feel to be back?
Of course, I feel at home. I was born and raised there and have kept strong links with this holy land. Light, smells, big tides on the estuary … each moment is engraved in my memory: the light changes in mid-August announcing the soon arriving “vendanges,” the deliciously intoxicating smell of the fermenting grapes, the first autumn frosts announcing the fall of the leaves and a preamble to the pruning season, the noisy return migration of geese announcing the budding. There is an intense and intimate communion with nature in the Médoc, helping me to better understand and serve it.
What have been some of your biggest challenges taking over the château so far, and how have you overcome them?
Thanks to the historical studies we are presently conducting, we can trace the history of the property back to the very beginning of the 1700s … and probably earlier. Each generation, each of the five families that succeeded here, has brought its own contribution, its own “stone” to the estate (“Caillou”: Beau Caillou means “beautiful stone”). Technical progress is consubstantial to our mission. Without neglecting the traditional manners that have translated in mythical bottles such as 1953, 1961, or 1970, we trust science and innovation that helps us to better serve nature. The challenge is to keep informed, envision and test the latest techniques and equipment in order to always produce better, and preserve our unique ecosystem to transmit it to the next generation (my son Louis-Eugene is presently 11).
What do you hope collectors get out of the experience of drinking your wine?
The Ducru-Beaucaillou experience is, by definition, multiple. Wine evolves with time, consumption, place, moment, climate, food, and company, too. It is a great satisfaction to experiment the life and behavior of each vintage.
The preliminaries are also key: select the bottle according to company and occasion, put it up in your cellar a couple of days before tasting, bring it to the right temperature, and, eventually, decant it.
What is your favorite way to enjoy a glass of Ducru-Beaucaillou?
I tend to open younger wines in the summer with flavored, exotic, and spicy foods, and more mature wines in the winter with more discreet dishes.
My last favorite experience has been sharing a bottle of our 2011 Ducru-Beaucaillou with my wife during a summer evening in our salon.