The 2021 Gruaud Larose was picked from September 23 until October 7, finishing with the Petit Verdot, and stopping several times to wait for ripeness in certain plots. It was matured in 95% new oak for a planned 18 months. The Cabernet Sauvignon clearly dominates the nose, the black fruit, graphite and touches of tobacco lending it a Pauillac-like allure. The palate is medium-bodied with supple but quite firm tannins that frame the graphite-infused black fruit. Quite direct, and in some ways a no-frills Gruaud Larose, though that is not meant pejoratively. Classically styled claret – no more, no less.
Drink 2026 - 2045
Neal Martin, vinous.com, (May 2022)
The 2021 Gruaud Larose is very impressive, exhibiting deep aromas of wild berries, cherries and cassis mingled with hints of licorice, violets and cigar wrapper. Medium to full-bodied, deep and concentrated, it's impressively rich and layered, with lively acids and ripe tannins, it concludes with a pure and penetrating finish. Classically balanced and intensely flavored, it's an elegant, beautifully made wine that is well worth seeking out. Three beautiful parcels of recently planted Cabernet Sauvignon, situated on deep gravel ideally adapted to this variety but hitherto planted with Merlot, make a contribution to the blend this year; but that's only one of the factors that explain why Gruaud has produced a 2021 that looks set to rival or surpass even recent and more propitious vintages such as 2018. The blend is fully 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, complemented by 12% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc, and it checks in at 12.5% alcohol. Congratulations are in order for technical director Virginie Sallette and the entire team at Gruaud Larose! Tasted twice.
William Kelley, Wine Advocate (Apr 2022)
Clearly Cabernet dominant, savoury with an attractive tannic frame. Should be accessible relatively early for a classified St Julien, but will age for a good few decades as there are plenty of well-textured tannins. Attractive floral notes give a gentle aromatic welcome, and the feel is elegant and finessed on the opening beats, with rose stems, raspberries, loganerries, white pepper, slate and liqourice. They have done a great job here, in the last year of organic conversion. 95% new oak.
Drink 2027 - 2040
Jane Anson, janeanson.com (May 2022)
About this WINE
Chateau Gruaud Larose
For many years Gruaud-Larose was owned by the négociants Cordier, who also own Château Talbot. It was sold in 1993 to the French conglomerate, Alcastel Alstom, which in turn sold it to the Taillan Group, owners of Chasse-Spleen and Haut-Bages-Libéral, in 1997. The talented Georges Pauli has remained as régisseur and winemaker throughout all these changes.
Gruaud-Larose has 84 hectares of vineyards located on a gravel-rich plateau just to the west of Château Beychevelle. The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (65%), Merlot (25%), Cabernet Franc (8%) and Petit Verdot (2%). Vinification takes place in a mixture of wooden vats and cement tanks and the wine is aged in oak barriques (30% new) for 18 months.
Gruaud-Larose can be tannic and ungainly in youth but with bottle ageing it becomes marvellously harmonious and develops complex and beguiling characteristics of concentrated black fruits, cedar, spices and liquorice.
St Julien is the smallest of the "Big Four" Médoc communes. Although, without any First Growths, St Julien is recognised to be the most consistent of the main communes, with several châteaux turning out impressive wines year after year.
St Julien itself is much more of a village than Pauillac and almost all of the notable properties lie to its south. Its most northerly château is Ch. Léoville Las Cases (whose vineyards actually adjoin those of Latour in Pauillac) but, further south, suitable vineyard land gives way to arable farming and livestock until the Margaux appellation is reached.
The soil is gravelly and finer than that of Pauillac, and without the iron content which gives Pauillac its stature. The homogeneous soils in the vineyards (which extend over a relatively small area of just over 700 hectares) give the commune a unified character.
The wines can be assessed as much by texture as flavour, and there is a sleek, wholesome character to the best. Elegance, harmony and perfect balance and weight, with hints of cassis and cedar, are what epitomise classic St Julien wines. At their very best they combine Margaux’s elegance and refinement with Pauillac’s power and substance.
Ch. Léoville Las Cases produces arguably the most sought-after St Julien, and in any reassessment of the 1855 Classification it would almost certainly warrant being elevated to First Growth status.
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.