From the wine to the contemporary art, modernity now reigns at the storied Château Ducru-Beaucaillou
Bordeaux is a beloved wine region, but it has a reputation for being a little staid. For an elite property, incentives for radical change are few. Take Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, the revered second-growth producer in the Saint-Julien appellation. Founded in 1720, Ducru is celebrating 300 years of exceptional winemaking with the recent release of its 2020 vintage, decked out with a special commemorative label, to high demand at US$239 (S$324) a bottle. The château has had a level of longevity that is hard to grasp: When the estate was formed, the French Revolution was still nearly 70 years away.
“Ducru has historically had an aura about it,” Jamie Ritchie, the worldwide head of Sotheby’s wine department, says of its reputation for plush and long-lived red wines based primarily on Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
But the current custodian of the legend of Ducru (insiders use just the first part of its name), Bruno-Eugène Borie, doesn’t quite fit the expected mould. His family took over the vineyard in 1942, and Borie, who personally assumed control in 2003, is something of a “bad boy,” in his own words, and someone who is constantly innovating and blowing through the stop signs of convention. When he realized, for instance, that there was no way to decant and pour those enormous large-format bottles seen in wine-auction catalogs and on top-tier restaurant wine lists, he simply invented a contraption, the Somm Butler, to help out (it’s been used at Spago, Robuchon and the like). It cradles the bottle and makes it easy to serve.