Produced from 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 51% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, the 2014 Beychevelle didn't enjoy a good showing. Despite a historical imbalance favouring Merlot in the vineyard, something of an oddity in these parts, the Beychevelle team has enjoyed a run of success. Popularity in certain Asian markets as well as some fine efforts in recent vintages has seen Beychevelle's appeal and lustre grow, although price rises have hit the traditional British customer base. Anyway, we have been impressed with the wines in recent years, so we were slightly taken aback by the 2014. It's normally rather gentile style has been replaced by a rather harsh, charmless core of dark fruit, quite inky and atypical. Then the tannins kick in, and on this showing, they are rather coarse and uncouth. The lasting impression is of high acidity, coarse, dominating tannins, and dry notes of coffee. It may resolve itself in time, or it could have just been a bad sample - time will tell! * It is worth noting that we tasted at the St Julien UGC at the end of a very long day. We felt that the samples were not necessarily representative. Our notes are an honest account of what we tasted, however, we are sure that the wines are much better than our notes suggest.
The 4th growth Château Beychevelle sits on the main road in St. Julien, its vineyards stretching north towards Ducru-Beaucaillou. Ships passing by on the Gironde used to honour long time owner the Duc d'Eperon, who was Grand Admiral of France, by lowering their sails('Baisse Voile'). From this tradition came the name Beychevelle. The vineyards are planted with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot and average approximately 25 years old. Grapes are hand picked and de-stemmed before vinifcation. Elevage takes place in 50% new oak for up to 18 months. Beychevelle has leaned towards a more masculine style of wine in recent years, due to higher proportions of Cabernet Sauvignon, more extraction and higher new oak levels. However it has not lost any of its elegance, charm, balance and has an ability to age seamlessly over 20 years.
St-Julien may not have any first growths like its neighbour Pauillac but has a raft of high-performing Châteaux in its ranks, second through to fourth growths, Including Ducru-Beaucaillou, Léoville Las Cases, Léoville-Poyferré, Léoville-Barton.
Gruaud-Larose and Talbot. For many St-Julien is quintessential claret, robust, powerful but refined subtle and poised. Gravelly soils dominate, hence wide plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon with some Merlot.