Article Published in Spirito Di Vino Asia Year 3, No 11...
“I love Hong Kong” exclaimed Bruno Borie, fourth-generation owner of Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, as we sat down for our conversation at the Hong Kong Jockey Club in Happy Valley. “Not only it has a fantastic energy, but wine drinkers here are among the most sophisticated I have met from my travels around the world”, he continued. A charming person of delightful geniality, he certainly came across as someone extremely passionate for his estate and its wines.
Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou is considered today to be a “super second” referring to its position on the Bordeaux 1855 Classification as some collectors considers its wines as good if not better than those of the first growth. Beyond a doubt, most connoisseurs agree that it is one of the most accomplished of all Bordeaux wines. Located in the commune of St-Julien in the Médoc, it sits on one of the most prized location of the region. In fact, “Beaucaillou” means “beautiful stone” and this is certainly true of its soils which consists of well drained gravel with stones up to 5 cm in diameter. It is on this type of soil that cabernet sauvignon ripens to its most magnificent expression and contribute to produce wines of extremely high elegance and ageing potential.
Deeply respectful of his position within his family, Bruno Borie sees himself as a caretaker for the generation that will come next. It is perhaps why, during our exchange, he showed his most passionate side as he talked about wine within the context of history. For him, wine follows the history of the world in parallel and he believes that each era has an important contribution to bring forth. “In this way, there can only be progress and everyone can only benefit as a result”, he opined. “In terms of quality, yes, but more importantly, in terms of increased enjoyment and pleasure”, he continued. Today, his ambition is to go further. He wants to translate the character of his vineyards with the highest possible precision through absolute purity.
In fact, several times during our conversation, Borie emphasized that “less is more”. He made several references to Matisse and Mies van der Rohe as examples of achieving maximum effect with minimal interference. He believes that, “more and more, as we reach purity by eliminating imperfections, we obtain a true and more precise image of our terroir, our vintage, and our cru”. To that end, the use of technology is necessary, “not to make the wine, because in French, the word “winemaker” does not exist, but to support the natural process of wine elaboration”. He referred to the technology that assists today in obtaining perfection of hygiene in the cellars, perfection of grapes at harvest and perfection of the maturation process in barrels. The goal, therefore, is to reduce to a maximum, if not to eliminate completely, what comes in the way of purity. “Actually”, he reminded me, “technology has helped us return to certain traditional techniques like the use of cement tanks, wooden casks, and others. Techniques that gives us today more elegant wines to express more clearly its origin and year of birth than what was possible when these techniques were first introduced. The key is not to go against nature with science and technology but to accompany and to serve in order to facilitate the best possible expression of the wines”.
His goal for purity transcends any specific doctrine in the vineyard or in the cellar. When asked if Ducru-Beaucaillou is organic, with a knowing smile, he replied that “our wines are not organic, they are orgasmic”. Challenged on whether the conventional use of blending techniques in Bordeaux goes in the way of terroir expression, he responded that “in fact, blending is part of terroir. It is key to the traditions that makes what Bordeaux is today, just like the personality of a man or a woman can sometimes be reflected in single varietal wines in other regions”. In fact, he thought, “blending is like cutting a rough diamond, each component will show a different facet and the end result will be shinier and more beautiful than the sum of its parts”.
From our conversation, the message was that in the end, it is the search for purity in the vineyard and the cellar that enables the wine to show its true character. Without the interference of imperfections, it is possible to achieve clarity and transparence in a way that is never forced, never obvious but elegant and refined.
Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou 2000
Deep ruby to the rim. Dense nose, displaying stewed black fruits with delicious notes of leather, musk, and tobacco. A true gentleman. Caressing and rich with velvety textural tannins. Long and intense finish with much promise for things to come. 94/100