‘We thought it would be easy after 10 years,’ François-Xavier Maroteaux remarks with a soft smile while walking through Branaire-Ducru’s vines on a warm, sunny September morning, stopping every few metres to taste the concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon berries awaiting harvest after a long and very dry summer. ‘But the reality is that after 35 years we’re still learning and improving. It takes time.’
While Maroteaux is perhaps being a little too self-deprecating about what he and his late father Patrick have achieved since the fourth-growth classified estate was purchased in 1988 – giving Branaire a reputation for flawless regularity, good-value prices and as a ‘safe bet’ – it’s indeed only a small portion of Branaire’s history.
The estate includes ancient vineyards that once formed part of the Beychevelle holdings next door and a legacy that dates back to 1680, when Jean-Baptiste Braneyre bought vines from the Duc d’Epernon’s Beychevelle estate, which had been broken up after his death in 1642.
Scroll down for a selection of Château Branaire-Ducru wines to try
Understated classic: Château Branaire-Ducru wines to try
Wines are listed in vintage order starting with the second wine then grand vin