Gruaud Larose 2000

Yet more proof (is it really needed?) of why fine Bordeaux is so age worthy…

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com

6 October 2015

Gruaud Larose. An excellent Bordeaux, a second growth from Saint Julien. I have always enjoyed the wines from this property. In a blind tasting of both the second and first wine, from the celebrated 2000 vintage, two experienced wine tasters mistook both for a much younger vintage.

Even if sometimes a brett factor in older vintages can be noticeable, the underlying terroir – yes, #winelovers, the terroir – usually ends up dominating the taste, over time in bottle.

As is stated on the château’s website, during the Günzian Quaternary period, the Gironde River reached the heights of Saint-Julien where Gruaud Larose lies. To the native so-called red gravel the Gironde added black or white flints from the Périgord, and white or pink quartz pebbles from the Limousin region plus other stones from the Pyrenees the Tarn department. The dominant orange colouration makes it possible to date the basis of the terroir to more than a million years ago.

The soil consists of humus, clay, sand, and pebbles left behind by the river. The subsoil is made up of red, yellow and blue clay, and of sand and even pebbles worn smooth from the Pyrenean diluvium.

The gravel keeps the soil from becoming a compacted, asphyxiating, blind mass. It breathes through all its pebbles that have accumulated over thousands of years in the original bed of the Garonne river, a river that all too often tries to regain the path it took in the ice age.

Acid and uncultivated, these gravels only become the terroirs of choice for elite viticulture after years of labour by generations of vine-growers.

What ends up in bottle? A wine with character, depth, full body and substance, with the Cabernet-dominated taste of cassis later turning towards cigar box. Gruaud Larose is not the most elegant of the Saint Juliens, but perhaps the most substantial, with the possible exception of the Pauillac-like Leoville Las Cases.

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A fine second wine, 15 years on – still fresh and youthful.

The 2000 vintage was heralded as a vintage of the century by the all powerful critic Robert Parker. It was to be the first of several such vintages in the first decade of the 2000s, including 2005 and 2009.

2000 was a rather precocious vintage. The half-veraison was nine days earlier than average (6 August). From April to mid August, the vintage seemed to be moderately hot with a surplus of sunshine and humidity. April was hot and very humid. May and June were hot and moderately rainy. The flowering was relatively quick and homogenous. July was cool and humid. The first fortnight of August was hot (5 days>30°C) with little rainfall. Quick veraison. A harvest spread over September and beginning of October allowed picking very healthy grapes.

I have always liked Gruaud Larose 2000. It has consistently had a youthful expression and that was proven yet again in a blind tasting of the second wine, followed  by the first wine over dinner in Strasbourg with #winelover founder Luiz Alberto and Alsace winemaker Guillaume Mochel of Domaine Frederic Mochel in Traenheim in northern Alsace, famous for the grand cru vineyard Altenberg de Bergbieten – and consistently delicious Rieslings among other fine wines.

When they arrived, I served a thoroughly tasty Prestige Cuvee of Mure Cremant, one of the best bubblies from Alsace, that had been disgorged in 2013. Then I served – blind – the Larose de Gruaud, the second wine of Gruaud Larose.

My guests thought it was a wine from 2009 or 2010 – perhaps 2005 – because of it freshness and ripeness. Indeed, it was quite red fruit in aspect, with plenty of lift and energy. Tasty, too with a medium finish. When I unveiled it, they were surprised that it was 15 years old.

Over dinner, we enjoyed the grand vin of Château Gruaud Larose 2000, which was deeper in aspect, more black than red fruit, with greater palate substance and a long finish, albeit somewhat still dominated by some oak influence that was not as pleasurable to Guillaume. Luiz thought it was, again, a far younger vintage, perhaps 2010.

So yet more proof if needed that fine Bordeaux equals cellar worthy wine of very high quality. Prices have gone up but some recent vintages of Gruaud Larose have been relative bargains for a second growth. And I did buy a bunch of 2000 vintage Gruaud Larose in Alsace for only 37 euros per bottle, back in 2003.

 

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