Château Branaire-Ducru

Dating back to 1680, Château Branaire-Ducru was originally part of the massive Beychevelle estate. When the owner of Beychevelle passed away, he left behind a huge vineyard that was seriously in debt. To pay the bills, the property was broken up and sold. Several new estates were created, including Château Branaire-Ducru.

The first owner of Branaire-Ducru was Jean-Baptiste Braneyre. As was the custom of the day in Bordeaux, he gave his name to the estate although Braneyre was later altered to Branaire. Braneyre bought the land of what is now Branaire-Ducru because of its terroir. He understood that Cabernet Sauvignon grew best on the deep, gravel soils of the Médoc. The so-called middle name was gained through marriage. Marie Braneyre married Pierre De Luc which gave us Branaire-Duluc. It took almost 200 years for the Ducru portion of the wine's name to make its way to the label. In 1875, with no direct descendants, Gustave Ducru, a more distant relative, took over the Médoc property and added his name to the label, which gave us Château Branaire-Ducru.

Patrick Maroteaux, the current owner, bought Branaire-Ducru in 1988 from the Tapie family who had owned it since 1919. Prior to his arrival at Branaire-Ducru, Patrick Maroteaux had no prior experience in the wine business. His background was first in banking, and next as the president of the massive sugar company, Eurosucre. Patrick Maroteaux also served as the President of the UGCB, Union of Grand Crus Bordeaux, and as the President of the Saint-Julien appellation. Since his purchase, he has focused much of his effort on performing extensive improvement work in the vineyards and in the cellars of Branaire-Ducru. He quickly began reducing the yields and also increased the size of the estate's vineyard holdings by 10 hectares. Patrick was particularly interested in modernising the wine making techniques and he was one of the first producers on the Left Bank to fill his tanks entirely by gravity starting with the 1991 vintage. At the time, this was done with the help of the young Philippe Dhalluin. Although he left Branaire-Ducru in 2004, to take over the same position as director of wine making at Château Mouton Rothschild, he was replaced by the young, talented, Jean Dominique Videau. All of the new, technical improvements at Branaire-Ducru quickly paid off for Patrick Maroteaux, as starting with the 2000 vintage Branaire-Ducru became one of the top Saint-Julien wines. Château Branaire-Ducru is a family business and Patrick's son, François Xavier Maroteaux, has joined the team and he will eventually take over the responsibility of managing the estate.

Branaire-Ducru's 60 hectares of vineyards rest on deep gravel soil with clay. The vineyard is planted with 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. On average, the vines are around 35 years of age but the oldest vines are close to 90 years old. The vineyard is planted to a vine density ranging from 6,700 to 10,000 vines per hectare. The higher levels of vine density are for the newer plantings. All grapes are hand harvested.

At Château Branaire-Ducru, fermentation takes place in 28 temperature controlled, stainless steel tanks. These vats vary in size, ranging from as small as 30 hectolitres all the way up to 210 hectolitres. Each vat is sized for the needs of each specific vineyard parcel and the vats are filled using a gravity flow system. Alcoholic fermentation takes place at temperatures between 26 to 28 degrees Celsius. The average length of maceration lasts about 21 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place in tank. The press wine is aged separately.

Château Branaire-Ducru is aged in 60 to 65% new, French oak barrels for between 16-20 months. The amount of new oak varies depending on the quality, character and style of the vintage. There is a second wine, Duluc De Branaire Ducru.
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