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Spotlight on… Gruaud Larose

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Owner: Taillan Group
Appellation: St Julien
Classification: Second Growth
Vineyard area: 80 hectares
Average annual production: 300,000 bottles
Colour: Red
Standard blend: Cabernet Sauvignon (65%), Cabernet Franc (7.5%), Merlot (31%), Petit Verdot (3%), Malbec (1.5%)
Other wines: Sarget de Gruaud Larose (192,000 bottles p/a)











Gruaud Larose’s earliest known proprietor was Joseph Stanislas Gruaud – a knight who owned the land in around 1725.  Although little is known about the estate’s former years, records reveal that large parcels of vines were inherited by Joseph’s descendents – a priest and a famously eccentric magistrate, who joined forces and named their winery Fond-Bedeau. The magistrate, or Chevalier de Gruaud, was noted for his unusual yet strangely successful tactic of raising the prices of unsold wines in order to encourage buying. After his death in 1778, his share was left to his son-in-law Joseph Sebastian de La Rose, who bought up surrounding vineyards and renamed the property Chateau Gruaud Larose. In the years that followed, the chateau’s wine found favour amongst royals and high society and is said to have been proclaimed « Le Roi des Vins, le Vin des Rois ». This motto still graces the label today.

The ensuing centuries saw the estate split up and change hands numerous times before being reunited in the early 20th century by the Cordier family.

In 1997, Gruaud Larose was purchased by former negociant Jacques Merlaut of the Taillan Group. Under his direction, and with the assistance of oenologist Eric Boissenot, Gruaud has produced a number of excellent vintages, many of which boast great femininity and elegance. And though the chateau has not always been a favourite of Parker or his peers, it enjoys a strong following amongst those who eschew the critics.

The 2009 vintage

The 2009 is a blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon and 32% Merlot with an alcohol content of 12.5%.

The vintage received tremendous reviews last year from all of the leading critics, including Neal Martin (92-95), Stephen Tanzer (92) and Jancis Robinson (16.5 out of 20). James Suckling rated it most highly at 94-97, claiming that it “could be better than the classic 2000”, whilst Parker went even further, calling it “the finest Gruaud since the 1990.”

“Made in a rich, broad, savory, juicy style with lots of succulence, but none of the masculinity and ruggedness often found in this offering.” – RP 92-94+.

Market trends

After producing several spectacular vintages in the 1980s, Gruaud was something of an underperformer in the ’90s, with nine of the ten vintages scoring between 82 and 89 points from Parker. The last two releases, however, have seen a marked improvement in quality.

The 2008 was awarded a Parker score of 89-91+ and was described by the critic as “more beefy and dense than other recent vintages”. The following year’s offering was even more ambitious, achieving 92-94+ points – Gruaud’s highest score since the 2000. But despite the chateau’s recent run of successes, particularly by the Wine Spectator’s standards (see below), the wines remain surprisingly affordable. The 2001, for example, which bears 92 points from James Suckling, is available at £360 per case (12x75cl), whilst the 2005, which received 91 points, is listed at £380 per case.

The table below shows the current prices of vintages 2000-2009, alongside their Parker and Wine Spectator scores.







Source: erobertparker.com  and winespectator.com

According to the 2009 Liv-ex Bordeaux Classification – which ranks Left Bank Bordeaux based purely on price – Gruaud Larose is currently trading at Fourth Growth prices, well below the prices of fellow Second Growths Pichon Baron and Montrose. If quality should continue to rise over the next few years, prices will undoubtedly follow suit. Is now the time to buy?

Source: Liv-ex
20th Jan 2011

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