Gruaud Larose describes itself as " the wine of kings, the king of wines". This may be true and certainly sine Jean Merlaut took over 'in 1997, quality has been consistently regal.This is a very good Gruaud Larose. Savoury and complex with good reserves of subtle fruit and silky tannins, it shows off the Merlaut magic. Drink 2013-2023
This estate continues to under perform, particularly in view of what the previous owners accomplished. Nothing made today resembles the great vintages of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, or even the top-flight 2000. Nearly every St.-Julien chateau is making better wine, and Gruaud Larose needs a wake-up call. A stricter selection might be a place to start. The dark ruby/garnet-colored 2004 reveals an herbal nose displaying hints of dirty saddle leather intermixed with roasted herbs, spice, black cherries, currants, and a green pepper-like character. It is a lightweight effort with medium body, superficial depth, crisp acidity, and sharp tannins in the finish. While it will keep for 10-15 years, and may become slightly more complex, it remains a major disappointment. Drink 2007-2017
Slightly weak rim. Toasty lively nose with real savour. Very fresh. Not especially intense but there is lift and race here and a good balance between fruit and tannin. The tannins are pretty aggressive but there is, just, enough fruit. Not a standout but very serviceable. Drying finish though. Drink 2013-2018
Gruaud Larose is one of the most dispersed châteaux. The estate is almost like a hamlet unto itself, with stone building after stone building all decorating the property like life-sized Monopoly board pieces. Reviewing its family history, it is easy to understand why. For many years it had been shuffled from one owner to the next, subsequently divided, pieced back together only to be divided again. After all these divisions and transformations, the estate stands today at 150 hectares, 82 of which are planted with vines. Its current owners, the Merlaut family, purchased the château in 1997. Their other holdings include Chasse Spleen, La Gurgue, Haut Bages Libéral, Citran and Ferrière. Considerable financial investment has contributed to the château's new founddynamism. Not only is it one of the more self-sufficient châteaux in Bordeaux, it is also one of the most natural. Practicing organic techniques, they create their own compost from the remnant stalks, skins and seeds and were the first château to recycle their own water.
St Julien is like the middle child of the Médoc - not as assertive as Pauillac or as coquettish as Margaux. It lies firmly between the two more outspoken communes and as a result produces a blend of them both. St Julien's wines have often been sought out by aficionados for their balance and consistency, particularly in the UK. Yet due to its middle child nature, it can occasionally be overlooked globally and as a result underrated by those markets outside the UK. Despite the fact that it has no first growths, it has several second growths including Léoville Las Cases, Léoville Barton, Léoville Poyferré and Ducru Beaucaillou as well as the celebrated châteaux such as Talbot and Beychevelle.