What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

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What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby Diane (Long Island) » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:32 pm

My 1 experience is with the 2000, which I enjoyed. It's a 4th Growth, yet I read more about the other Ducru (Beaucaillou) and 5th Growth producers such as Pontet Canet, Grand Puy Lacoste, and Lynch Bages, and I've had more experience with those. I am considering bringing my last bottle of the 2000 Branaire Ducru to dinner to share with a friend who drinks wine, enjoys it, but is more taken with the study of it. Is it not considered a top producer?
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby Salil » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:41 pm

It's not regarded as a 'top' growth in the way that Pichon Baron, PLL or Lynch Bages are, which I'm fine with as the wines are much more affordable and don't get point-chased.

I like the wines a lot (though I've not tasted anything more recent than 2005), I've found them very consistent in style - very typically old school left bank Bordeaux, a little austere at times but very nicely balanced without trying to be too rich or heavy. Also a big fan of what they've done in lesser regarded vintages - the 2002 is excellent, and I recently opened my last bottle of the 1994 which was wonderful.
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby Diane (Long Island) » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:57 pm

Salil, that's why I'm confused. It's because they aren't regarded as top growth, when lower growth wines are. I like what they did in 2000, and when I had a bottle a couple of years ago, it wasn't too big. I wanted to find out if I was missing something, but if it stays "under the radar" so to speak, I am perfectly happy. I even bought some 2009 and 2010 because of very reasonable prices.
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:15 pm

Under the radar is a good way to put it. The wines were highly sought after for a brief period of time around the 2000 vintage, but then drifted back into as much obscurity that a classed growth Bordeaux can. I have enjoyed many vintages of Branaire, but never been blown away by one. I think that's a pretty common sentiment, which is why it does nto get the love of Lynch, which has a couple of legendary vintages where Branaire has been just solid, year in and year out.

Branaire is a decent fielding 3rd baseman who hits .285 and smacks 18-24 home runs per year while playing 150+ games for a moderate salary. You could do a lot worse.
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby Tom Troiano » Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:18 pm

I guess I'm a little confused by the term "top growth". What exactly does that mean?

Of course today some 5th Growths are better than some 3rd and 4th Growths and some 4th Growths are better than some 3rd Growths.
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby Diane (Long Island) » Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:23 pm

David, yes, I could do a lot worse, but in this instance, I need to do better. I'll think of another wine to bring for this dinner.
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby Salil » Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:25 pm

Tom - I'm using the term 'top growth' in the same way that some (PLL) are referred to as "super seconds" - the wines are of a high enough quality in many vintages that they'll rival the most elite left bank producers (the firsts/LMHB), and the market reflects that in terms of their pricing.

And David nails it - others like Lynch Bages, Palmer and PLL have had several vintages where they've performed at the same level or produced even more amazing wines than a lot of those elite estates. Branaire's incredibly consistent, but isn't a wine that will give you the sort of wow experience that say, an '89 Lynch Bages or '90 Pichon Baron can.
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby Tom Troiano » Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:39 pm

Salil wrote:Tom - I'm using the term 'top growth' in the same way that some (PLL) are referred to as "super seconds" - the wines are of a high enough quality in many vintages that they'll rival the most elite left bank producers (the firsts/LMHB), and the market reflects that in terms of their pricing.


Thanks. I understand - just not used to seeing that term.

I think, in general, its a bit of a stretch to say that Lynch Bages in many vintages rivals the best but there are definitely some spectacular examples of Lynch Bages. I agree on PLL. I don't have enough experience with Ch. Palmer.
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:44 pm

To my way of thinking, Lynch Bages trades off of about 3 or 4 great releases. More often than not I am not impressed by the wines.
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby Dale Williams » Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:52 pm

I don't think anyone thinks the 1855 is actually a great guide to quality these days. There are historic underachievers (Rauzan Gassies is a 2nd, Boyd Cantenac is a 3rd, etc) and overachievers (Palmer carries more prestige than any 3rd, ditto Lynch-Bages as a 5th); of course those perceptions shift as winemaking changes. Another factor about what you hear discussed is of course availability, and Branaire_Ducru is I think considerably smaller than Pontet-Canet or Lynch Bages (maybe not GPL)

I haven't ever had a Branaire that I thought was great (except the 1982 about 10 years ago, subsequent bottles never as good) but very limited experience post 1990s
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby Jenise » Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:53 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Under the radar is a good way to put it. The wines were highly sought after for a brief period of time around the 2000 vintage, but then drifted back into as much obscurity that a classed growth Bordeaux can. I have enjoyed many vintages of Branaire, but never been blown away by one.


I am not sure what my first Branaire was, but it was elegant and feminine in a way that spoke to me and so I bought a bunch of 95's and 96's that I've been enjoying since their tenth birthdays. They have consistently been a little more acidic than their brothers which makes them seem more delicate, with an uncommonly spicey and aromatic nose. Definitely a fan, and there are clearly many others as I continually bid on older bottles at auction and almost never win them.
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby Salil » Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:56 pm

Tom Troiano wrote:I think, in general, its a bit of a stretch to say that Lynch Bages in many vintages rivals the best but there are definitely some spectacular examples of Lynch Bages. I agree on PLL. I don't have enough experience with Ch. Palmer.

True - they don't hit those heights as often as PLL for instance, but the '89 and '96 Lynch Bages are monumental wines (the '89 is largely why I have such a glowing opinion of that estate, after a few truly exceptional bottles of that wine in the last few years.)

Though as far as Pauillac goes, nothing tops PLL for my tastes. Plus their consistency in "off" vintages like '81 and '94 is astounding. Had bottles of the '88 and '81 quite recently, and both were sensational.
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby David Creighton » Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:21 pm

well jeez; if branaire isn't good enough for someone, then i don't know what to say. we seem to be comparing apples and oranges here. branaire is a saint julian and is being dissed for being not up to pauillacs. branaire is a wonderful chateau - making subtle, elegant and wonderful wines. at the union of grands cru tasting every year, they are one of my favorites. no, the aren't the biggest; but they always are one of the very classiest. and it is a beautiful property that is a pleasure to visit.
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:29 pm

I do not think I am dissing Branaire. I actually own several bottles that I am waiting on. I just don't think it has ever overperformed its class the way some others have. It also does not underperform. If the entire 1855 classification met its grade the way Branaire did on a regular basis then life would be pretty good.
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby Matt Richman » Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:05 pm

I like Branaire. I think it is well priced relative to other Bdx of the quality and I own quite a bit of it in many vintages. The 82 96 and 89 are particularly wonderful. It can be long lived and I have really enjoyed the 75 and 78 at the 30+ year mark.

But it's no Ducru Beaucaillou, Leoville Poyferre or Barton or Las Cases. It is not St Julien's Palmer or Pontet Canet. I've never had one that hits the highs of Lynch Bages or Grand Puy Lacoste. It also is not priced as high as any of those wines.

It may outperform fellow St. Julien 4th growths Talbot (except the 86), Beychevelle and Saint Pierre and 3rd growth Langoa Barton, although I've had less experience with any of those than I have with Branaire. I would say Lagrange has the quality edge.

Bottom line is it's an enjoyable wine but I doubt it would be of particular special interest to a wine geek. What have you decided to bring?
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby Brian Gilp » Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:06 pm

So as reputations go, is it better to occasionally hit brilliance and under perform more frequently or is it better to show consistent quality that rarely if ever is deemed exceptional? If picking a bottle without specific vintage information which would you be more likely to choose for the same price. Do you gamble on potential brilliance or go with the sure thing?

Any notes on recent vintages of Branaire, specifically 2005 and 2009? Are they still the same style or have they gotten more "masculine"?
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby Mark S » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:28 pm

Salil wrote:Though as far as Pauillac goes, nothing tops PLL for my tastes. Plus their consistency in "off" vintages like '81 and '94 is astounding.


The 81 was a nice wine, but the last time I had one was in the mid-90's. As for off-vintage PLL, what say you about the unloved 2002? :?

Diane, I'll echo the others thoughts about Brainaire Ducru: a good 'workhorse' winery making good, reliable wines, but nothing that will make you say 'Damn!'.
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby Salil » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:53 pm

Never had the '02 PLL, so can't comment. I take it you or others have less than favorable impressions of it?
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby Mark S » Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:28 am

Salil - well, no reports from me, but I own some, so that is why I asked. I haven't heard good reports and was hoping you might say it was 'fantastic!'.
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby Matt Richman » Tue Feb 12, 2013 5:33 pm

2002 Lalande is a nice wine. It does not transcend the 2002 vintage issues, but there is nothing wrong with it either.


2002 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

3/24/2011
A bit stiff with lots of iron and mineral. Has some nice herb but a bit chunky and lean. Tannins are fine and starting just barely to melt into the fruit. Plenty of blackened wood and a long finish with bitter nut. Has a delicate nature under strong angular fruit with a bit of sweet perfume. Not a warm wine, nor is it generous. But it is suave, fairly smooth, complex, and shows real class. Even from 375 this is young. I wouldn't open a 750 for at least 5 years. Does this have a lot of cabernet franc in it? Has that green, peppery edge.

8/23/2005
2002 Bordeaux Offline (Frank's Steakhouse, NYC): Rich, big fruit. Sweet, lots of stiff tannins. Fruit a bit short & flat. Nice.
B

3/28/2006
Dark color. Sweet candied fruit nose with sweet spice & clove.

Sweet dark fruit. Tar core. Smoth with classy dark burnt oak. Some sweet spice. Tastes like a hot weather wine. Long burnt nut bitter finish. Expansive high tones, good structure, creamy. Dominated by dark notes with some secondary flavors. Needs integration. Will there be enough fruit to blossom?
B/B+

Improved on day 2. This will be a very nice wine.
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby Dale Williams » Tue Feb 12, 2013 5:59 pm

Matt Richman wrote:. Does this have a lot of cabernet franc in it? Has that green, peppery edge.
Matt, I think Pichon Lalande usually has a moderate amount of CF, but also a significant (compared to other properties) amount of Petit Verdot, which shows green even more than CF.

.
8/23/2005
2002 Bordeaux Offline (Frank's Steakhouse, NYC): Rich, big fruit. Sweet, lots of stiff tannins. Fruit a bit short & flat. Nice.
B.

I think this is only time I had the '02 PL, my take was similar.
In general I think PL is one of the tougher wines to judge young

It may outperform fellow St. Julien 4th growths Talbot (except the 86), Beychevelle and Saint Pierre and 3rd growth Langoa Barton, although I've had less experience with any of those than I have with Branaire. I would say Lagrange has the quality edge.
Recently I've thought the 82 (as well as 86) Talbot was better than Branaire. And I'd generally choose Beychevelle before Branaire. But other than that pretty much agree
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby Bill Spohn » Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:10 pm

I don't play the game of whether it is as good as other wines. I just evaluate whether it is a wine I consistently like.

It is.

I have vintages from 1975 through 2005 and enjoy them all.
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby Diane (Long Island) » Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:33 pm

Matt Richman wrote:I like Branaire. I think it is well priced relative to other Bdx of the quality and I own quite a bit of it in many vintages. The 82 96 and 89 are particularly wonderful. It can be long lived and I have really enjoyed the 75 and 78 at the 30+ year mark.

But it's no Ducru Beaucaillou, Leoville Poyferre or Barton or Las Cases. It is not St Julien's Palmer or Pontet Canet. I've never had one that hits the highs of Lynch Bages or Grand Puy Lacoste. It also is not priced as high as any of those wines.

It may outperform fellow St. Julien 4th growths Talbot (except the 86), Beychevelle and Saint Pierre and 3rd growth Langoa Barton, although I've had less experience with any of those than I have with Branaire. I would say Lagrange has the quality edge.

Bottom line is it's an enjoyable wine but I doubt it would be of particular special interest to a wine geek. What have you decided to bring?


It's your last line that ultimately sums it up for me, which is why I will probably take a 1995 Angelus.
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Re: What do you think of Branaire Ducru?

Postby Bill Spohn » Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:45 pm

Matt Richman wrote:But it's no Ducru Beaucaillou, Leoville Poyferre or Barton or Las Cases. It is not St Julien's Palmer or Pontet Canet. I've never had one that hits the highs of Lynch Bages or Grand Puy Lacoste. It also is not priced as high as any of those wines.



According to Parker, Branaire was as good or better than either in 2000 and 2003 and was equalled by Grand Puy in 2005 but was handily ahead of Lynch.
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