|Annual Production (Grand Vin)||40-50,000 cases|
|Classification||Quatrièmes Crus (Fourth-Growths)|
|Second Wine||Amiral de Beychevelle|
|Interesting Fact||The name Beychevelle originates from “Baisse Voile” or ‘lower the sails’ reflecting this estates history as a former property of Jean-Louis Nogaret de la Valette, Great Admiral of France.|
The ownership of Beychevelle is a good representative of modern, internationally-focussed château ownership - corporations with the monetary might to plough investment into production processes as well as far reaching marketing to enable growth in non-native markets. Castel and Suntory are spurring on improvements for the Fourth-Growth producer, with the purchase acting as their first foray into Bordeaux’s Grand Cru Classé territory. Castel have a good business record with China, having entered joint Sino-French venture with Changyu, one of China’s oldest wineries. Nobutada Saji, CEO of Japan’s fourth largest brewing firm Suntory, is regularly named as one of the most influential people in the world of fine wine and the brand’s involvement in Beychevelle is promising- with a growth in interest from Asian markets as a result.
Beychevelle wines have received an average critic score of 91.7 points in the 10 years from 2008 to 2017, reflecting a marked improvement on reception for vintages from the 1970s and 1980s and the 2016 vintage was heralded as evidence of a return to form. Where there has been criticism directed at the wine, however, it has been in the form of accusations of inconsistency in terms of wine quality from year to year. The Grand Vin is approachable at an early age and does not require long periods of cellaring to reach its potential.
"...The palate is sensational: understated at first and bridled with ultra-fine tannin, it is a Beychevelle armed with a disarming sense of symmetry. It builds in the mouth towards a fabulously tensile finish that is so fresh and full of energy that the senses are almost overwhelmed...This is an electrifying 2016 from winemaker Philippe Blanc..."
An estate boasting an especially impressive chateau, an old fortified manse that faces the Gironde, Beychevelle has its roots in ancient France and was once owned by Jean-Louis Nogaret de la Valette, Great Admiral of France in the late 1500s. This Duke became an admiral in the French Navy and ships that passed his château along the river were required to lower their sails as a mark of respect. This story is reflected in its emblem, a ship with a griffin figurehead and lowered sail- the griffin adding extra symbolism as the guardian of Dionysus’ wine goblet in Greek mythology.
Much later it fell into the hands of the venerable Achille-Fould family, who oversaw its running throughout much of the 20th century though it was not known for wines of outstanding quality. Following 1984, when Grand Millésimes de France (GMF) bought a substantial stake in Beychevelle and later sold some of their shares to Japanese firm Suntory, investment significantly increased in the vinyards and an improvement in quality was the result. Ownership in 2017 leaves Grand Millesemes de France and its subsidaries own 89% and 11% with Societe Generale Bank.
Beychevelle Price Analysis
Chateau Beychevelle Pricing
Highest rated vintages for Chateau Beychevelle
I have noticed serious bottle variation with this wine, but recently it has been consistently scoring in the 94-96 point range. Beautifully sweet, slightly herbaceous black currant, licorice, and earthy notes emerge from this nearly opaque, dark ruby/purple-tinged 1982. Compared to the more elegant, feminine-styled wine often produced here, it is a beast. Dense, thick, rich, concentrated, and impressive, it can be drunk now and over the next two decades. Release price: ($130.00/case)
Showing better from bottle than it did from barrel, where it was also impressive, but not quite at this level, the 2010 Beychevelle displays sweet black currant, black cherry, foresty notes, medium to full-bodied texture with impressive purity and moderately high tannins (although they've softened considerably during the wine's upbringing in barrel). Layered and rich for a Beychevelle, this wine should easily withstand three decades of cellaring. I would give it another 3-4 years of bottle age, but this is a fabulous effort from the first chateau one sees upon entering the appellation of St.-Julien.
The finest Beychevelle since the 2003 and probably since the 1982, Beychevelle’s 2009 is opaque purple in color, with a beautiful, floral nose intermixed with black currant fruit, licorice, cedar wood and Christmas fruitcake. Full-bodied yet still elegant and pure, this wine has velvety tannins, a broad, savory mouthfeel, and a very long finish. There is plenty of tannin behind the extravagant fruit, glycerin and texture of this wine, but it is largely concealed. This wine could actually turn out to be even better than my relatively conservative tasting note. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2042.
While quite outstanding and deserving to be in any conscientiously stocked wine cellar, the 1986 Beychevelle does not quite have the extraordinary concentration and potential for longevity that I had thought it would. Nevertheless, this is still one of the best Beychevelles in the last 30 years. With its black/ruby color and huge bouquet of roasted fruit, this full-bodied, concentrated, rich wine should not be drunk before the mid-1990s. Anticipated maturity: Now-2010. Last tasted, 1/91.
Deep ruby/purple in color, with a sweet nose of black currants, earth, licorice, and mineral, the 2000 is relatively powerful and dense for the normally restrained and elegant Beychevelle. Medium to full-bodied, dense, and chewy, it is showing even better out of bottle than it was from cask. While it appears to be the finest example made at Beychevelle since the 1989 and 1982, patience will be required. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2020.
Given the performance of this somewhat mystifying but beautifully situated estate in St.-Julien, we might be seeing a resurrection in quality, or at least much more consistency. A beauty in an up-front, supple, sexy style is the generous and savory, dark ruby /plum-colored 2003 Beychevelle. Medium to full-bodied with loads of fruit and glycerin, it is much more approachable than usual, but also generously proportioned and exceptionally well-balanced. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2022.
While this is a strong effort from a property that too often does not live up to its pedigree, I had hoped the 2005 Beychevelle would merit an even higher score. A deep ruby/purple hue is accompanied by a sweet perfume of roasted herbs, black cherries, and even blacker fruits. The wine is medium to full-bodied with sweet tannin, good acidity, and a fruitcake-like spiciness and earthiness. Pure and long with a tannic clout that is neither intrusive nor excessive, this elegant, powerful effort should be at its finest between 2017-2030.
A property that seems to be awakening, this St.-Julien leans toward more of a Margaux style. The attractive earthy, floral, red currant, and raspberry notes are impressively intense and complex in the aromatics. This dark ruby/purple-tinged wine displays elegance, finesse, and a beautiful mouthfeel in a restrained, moderately intense, but still classic style with sweet tannins. Tobacco, cedar, earth, and red and black fruits are prominent in both the aromas and the flavors. This wine can be drunk now or cellared for 15-20 years.
A strong, solid effort from Beychevelle, the 2012 exhibits a deep ruby/plum color in addition to a sweet perfume of mulberries, black currants, jammy cherries, vanilla and damp earth. With good power and more depth than many Medocs as well as the estate's hallmark finesse and elegance, this excellent, possibly outstanding wine possesses sweet tannin and more mid-palate depth than many of its peers.
Both the 1989 and 1990 wines scored slightly lower than in previous tastings. In contrast to the 1990, the 1989 Beychevelle, which usually performs better than it did in the recent tasting, is an elegant, medium-bodied wine with soft tannin, copious quantities of ripe, herb-tinged, blackcurrant fruit, some evidence of toasty oak, and a generous, velvety-textured finish. It appears to be evolving quickly, and can be drunk now as well as over the next 15 years.