Wine: Best Wines: Château Gruaud-Larose


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Château Gruaud-Larose (Médoc) - Deuxieme Grand Cru Classé

The first writings that attest to the existence of the Château Gruaud-Larose  date back to 1742. However, the creation of the estate by the knight Joseph Stanislas Gruaud probably dates from 1725.  By the 1750s, Mr Gruaud's property already occupied a good position in Abraham Lawton's brokerage register, prefiguring the 1855 classification. In 1757, the Knight Gruaud acquired an area for cultivation close to the present-day one.  The property was then named 'Fonbedeau', although one frequently comes across the name of Gruaud. Upon the death of the founder on September 6th, 1771, his only heir, Jean-Sébastien de Larose, elected representative of the Bordeaux Présidial and Lieutenant General of the Guyenne Seneschal's Court, became the owner of the Fonbedeau estate. It was not until 1791 that the name Larose appeared. At the legal auction held in 1812, the Bordeaux merchants Balguerie, Sarget and Co. purchased the château. On this occasion, the château officially acquired the name of Gruaud Larose. The motto 'king of wines, wine of kings' was then thought up by Baron Sarget. After long negotiations, the vineyards and buildings were divided between the Sagret de la Fontaine family, on the one hand, and Mesdames Bethmann and de Boisgérard, on the other.  This is how it came to pass that two wines were marketed, under the names of Gruaud Larose Sarget and Gruaud Larose Bethmann. Oidium, or powdery mildew, which descended upon the Médoc vineyards between 1852 and 1860, caused the yield of château Gruaud-Larose to drop drastically.  In order to combat this blight, the sulphuring technique was adopted throughout the estates. 

After a century of excellence, the 1855 classification confirmed the position of the château among the greatest.  It was officially raised to the rank of second cru classé.  For over one hundred years the château had been referred to regularly as one of the best.  In 1917, Désiré Cordier, a wine merchant from the East of France purchased the Gruaud-Larose Sarget château.  In 1935, Désiré Cordier bought Gruaud Larose Bethmann and in this way reconstituted the initial estate of the founder, Abbot Gruaud. 1940 was the year in which Désiré Cordier died. Paul and Henri Lemaire then took on the management of the estate, until Jean Cordier, Désiré's grandson, was appointed manager in 1947. As soon as he took up his post, Jean Cordier began to modernise the management of the château, increase its reputation and renew most of the vineyards. Having been extended, rejuvenated and renewed, the estate was to produce more abundant harvests from 1961. In 1983, the Suez group invested in the Cordier company through its subsidiary, La Hénin, thus endowing the family enterprise with international stature. In 1997, the Merlaut family purchased the property and followed the policy established by their predecessor at the beginning of the 90s: to produce world-class wine, while at the same time respecting tradition and the environment.  Gruaud Larose is currently managed by Jean Merlaut and Georges Pauli. 

Château Gruaud-Larose is characterised by a very beautiful, strong, intense red colour. There is also an intense bouquet, in which the aromas of the five grape varieties mingle elegantly with delicate notes of undergrowth - "terroir" in French. Château Gruaud-Larose’s Domaine stretches over 200 uninterrupted acres and consists of more than 700,000 vine plants. The current proportions of the different grape varieties grown are 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec. The quantities of each variety used in the wines vary from year to year, enabling greater complexity. Cabernet Sauvignon, the king of the Médoc grapes, is traditionally the main variety used in the wines of the region. Its proportion varies between 40 and 60%. Merlot has become the main grape of the Gironde, and whilst synonymous with St. Emilion and Pomerol it has remained in the minority in the Médoc. Although a secondary ingredient in the grand vin of Gruaud Larose, Merlot still makes an important contribution to the wine’s remarkable complexity. Cabernet Franc, also known as Breton and Bouchet, is a very old French variety. Well-suited to wines that will mature over a long period, Cabernet Franc can produce fine wines of great complexity. Petit Verdot, a late maturing variety typical of the Médoc, is valued for its colour and high potential alcohol content. No longer grown on many estates because of its fragility, it produces excellent results at Gruaud Larose, and is an integral part of the wine. Malbec, also known as Cot, suffers from a susceptibility to coulure (a failure to set fruit) but, despite this, makes an unquestionable contribution to the wine’s complexity of flavour.

The Pocket Wine Guide by Hugh Johnson rates Château Gruaud-Larose with four blue stars (out of five and blue is for good value in its class) and recommends vintages as follows (bold years should be ready for drinking and a particular successful vintage is marked with a '):  61 70 75 78' 82' 83' 85 86' 88' 89 90' 93 95 96' 98 99 00 01 02.

Address (also for Guided Tours):
Château Gruaud-Larose 
Saint-Julien de Beychevelle
Tel :  +33-5-5673 1520
Fax : +33-5-5659 6472
e-mail: contact@gruaud-larose.com
website: www.gruaud-larose.com

Visits to the public are available from July to early September and visits for wine professionals are available throughout the year by arrangement. There is no sales outlet at the Château, to obtain the wines we suggest that you contact retail merchants, such as those that may be found in the Place de Bordeaux on the Bordeaux market.

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