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New Arrival. The Dragon Boat Delivers its Finest Expression in More Than 80 Years! Plus an Insider Value Tip.
August 6, 2020

The Historic “Dragon Boat” Château Delivers Their Finest Release in 80 Years? Plus Back Vintage Access and the Insider Tip From “The Versailles of Bordeaux” and the Historic 2016 Vintage.

“If there is one commune on the Left Bank where quality is exceptional across the board, it is without question Saint-Julien…the unquestioned star of 2016.” –Antonio Galloni

“Frankly, it leaves all the other Beychevelles in recent years standing. This is an electrifying 2016…” - Neal Martin

As you know by now, the recent arrivals from the vaunted 2016 vintage in Bordeaux are selling out. It is simply the greatest young vintage we have tasted in our lifetime and as the quotes above can attest, the trade has also dubbed the historic and classic vintage, “The Year of Saint-Julien.” For IWM, one of the true sleepers of the year that is both, approachable on the palate and in the pocket, is from the historic Fourth Growth, 2016 Beychevelle. But it does not end with the grand vin, there is its value sibling, 2016 Amiral de Beychevelle, for what is one of the absolute best firsthand insider tips from Bordeaux we can provide.

But here’s the catch… it may come as a surprise to you, but some of the more difficult classified growths to come by in any good-to-excellent vintage, are Léoville Barton, Calon Segur and today’s featured producer, the fabled Château Beychevelle. They are among the first to sell out each en primeur and the reason is simple, these are old school classics, and despite their successes, they defy market trends by not substantially raising their prices with each release. And unlike many châteaux, they sell what they produce; as a result, each time we have gone back to the Saint-Julien château for back vintages, they have been limited. Go ahead and look for yourself, for such a well-known estate, there is simply not much of the 2005, 2009 or 2010 to be found.

Under the guidance of Managing Director Philippe Blanc, the historic “Versailles of Bordeaux” and their famous “Dragon Boat” wine have undergone a renaissance over the past decade and are on a roll. We are including what are some of the greatest vintages of Beychevelle. And while the 2010 and 2009 have, in fact, been labeled by many critics as the “…greatest since the 1982,” IWM was at the chateau and recently tasted the 2016 from the “Year of Saint-Julien” and it is another stunning expression that captured our attention. We are not alone, and while this is a Saint-Julien that enjoys some of Pauillac’s power to the north, it certainly captures Margaux’s softness and inviting silky texture to the south, providing some approachability for today. In 2016, the Beychevelle is one of the most expressive of the vintage and, as Neal Martin describes, “This will surely be a benchmark for this Saint Julien estate.”

As we indicate above, it does not end there. For those of you who are new to the Amiral de Beychevelle, you should know that much of the wine formerly went into the production of the grand vin bottling and the second label is now better than most of the Beychevelle produced in the 1970s - and it is under $55! In 2016, we could not agree more with Mr. Martin once again, this is a rich and crowd-pleasing wine that is “Margaux-like in style…the palate is silky smooth, very harmonious and perhaps one of the most sensual Deuxième Vin that I have tasted. There are many outstanding second labels on the Left Bank in 2016. This is definitely one of them.”

Featured Wine: New Arrivals Direct From “The Versailles Of Bordeaux”

Dating back to 1446, the powerful château has an enchanting history of royalty and is certainly one of the most stunning pieces of architecture (and gardens) on the Left Bank, earning the nickname “The Versailles of Bordeaux.” Legend has it, that during his residency here, Jean-Louis Nogaret de la Valette, the Duke of Epernon and Admiral of France, was all-powerful and that boats passing before his château had to lower their sails as a sign of allegiance. Hence the name "Baisse-Voile" (lowering of sails), which was to become the name Beychevelle and the emblem of the château - the ship with a prow in the shape of a griffin guarding Dionysus' cellar. It has also become known as the Dragon Boat wine.

Additional Notes and Reviews:

Neal Martin, Vinous: "The 2016 Amiral de Beychevelle is a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc and matured in 20% new oak barrels. It has a very pure bouquet, quite floral and Margaux-like in style, with cassis and blueberry intermixed with violet emerging with time. The palate is silky smooth with very fine tannin, well judged acidity, very harmonious and perhaps one of the most sensual Deuxième Vin that I have tasted. There are many outstanding second labels on the Left Bank in 2016. This is definitely one of them." 4/17

2016 BEYCHEVELLE (and Amiral de Beychevelle)
Christopher Deas, Italian Wine Merchants: “We have had the good fortune of tasting the 2016 Beychevelle and Amiral de Beychevelle at the Château with Managing Director Philippe Blanc on several occasions. The last time the wine was featured alongside the 2015, 2010, 2009, and 2005. It was simply hard not to fall for these silk-driven wines of Saint Julien. There is a higher percentage of Merlot in the blend here, more than many of the neighboring estates along the Gironde River here, but to me, that is the separator and appeal of this historic Fourth Growth – it is simple, who wants to wait 10 to 20 years on every Bordeaux? Well, in 2016 the blend is equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with a touch of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. The more seductive and Margaux side of Saint Julien shows through here once again. Sure, there is concentration and the signature texture with early appeal is evident, but there is more precision and depth from the classic vintage. The tannins are refined, the fruit is pure and they are already well integrated and seamless. You can expect to find nuances of red and black fruit - currant, black cherry, plum, crème de cassis, crushed flowers, cedar and spice. What’s not to like about the Dragon Boat wine in the “Year of Saint Julien”? I would be remiss if I did not scream how good the second label is…the expansive and creamy texture alone are well worth the fair price of admission here.”

Neal Martin, Vinous: "The 2016 Beychevelle has a stunning bouquet of vibrant, shimmering blackberry and wild strawberry fruit laced with crushed stone and rose petals. The well-balanced palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin and a slightly savory/dried blood finish that lingers in the mouth. Tasting both in London and in Bordeaux, I found the latter bottle to have a little more precision and race on the finish. This will surely be a benchmark for this Saint Julien estate" 1/19

Jeb Dunnuck: “Château Beychevelle covers a full 73.5 hectare of vines in Saint-Julien, with Romain Duclomb (of Château Clinet) functioning as the technical director and Eric Boissenot as oenologue. A true gem in the vintage is the 2015 Château Beychevelle which is 47% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Petit Verdot, all of which was brought up in 50% new oak. This beauty is loaded with notions of black cherries, leafy herbs, underbrush and hints of violets. Medium to full-bodied, concentrated and opulent on the palate, with fine, ripe tannin, it has all the right components, is intense, pure, and lengthy. Count me in as a fan and it will benefit from short-term cellaring and keep for two decades or more.” 11/17

Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate: “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 château one sees upon entering the appellation of St.-Julien.”

Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate: “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.”

Should you have any questions on these exciting wines, or would like to take advantage of this offer while supplies last, we are asking that you email orders back to me at, connect with your portfolio manager, or mention receipt of this offer if calling the store. All orders are subject to confirmation.

All my best,