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WTN: Château Gruaud Larose 1999

by Otto » Mon May 08, 2006 4:47 pm

  • 1999 Château Gruaud Larose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien (5/8/2006)
    I noticed a slightly protruding cork on one of my Gruaud 1999s so I opened it now. I'm glad I did, it seems rather evolved - but very drinkable, not something I would want to return to the shop. While tasting it, all of a sudden I remembered why I've so often said that Gruaud is my favourite Claret. It smells of shit! It's the Musar of Bordeaux, it rocks! But the shit, just like in Musar, isn't the overwhelming type which mutes all the other attributes of the wine, but it is rather a delightful if obvious overtone. There is also a plentiful cassis and, at such a young stage, rather too plentiful oakiness going on. The palate is rather savoury, with nice acidity, tannic still of course, but with an almost new-wordly amount of fruit backing it up. All the other parts of the wine please me except the overt blueberry notes which makes this seem more new worldly than it should be. But very good, if a touch evolved. If you've got pristine bottles, don't open them yet.

    The next day it wasn't as shitty - what a pity. Also the oak is more to fore - more's the pity. The palate is however just as lovely as the day before with lovely fruit balancing the rather copious tannins and decent acidity. The aftertaste is so very fresh. Yum. A pity I only have one other bottle of this.

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Re: WTN: Château Gruaud Larose 1999

by Mark Lipton » Mon May 08, 2006 5:38 pm

Otto Nieminen wrote:It smells of shit! It's the Musar of Bordeaux, it rocks! But the shit, just like in Musar, isn't the overwhelming type which mutes all the other attributes of the wine, but it is rather a delightful if obvious overtone.


Otto,
I think a new term is needed for you: oenocoprophiliac. Gruaud-Larose is indeed well-known for their Brett "problems." I too like it.

Mark Lipton
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Re: WTN: Château Gruaud Larose 1999

by Otto » Wed May 10, 2006 4:08 pm

Mark Lipton wrote:
Otto Nieminen wrote:It smells of shit! It's the Musar of Bordeaux, it rocks! But the shit, just like in Musar, isn't the overwhelming type which mutes all the other attributes of the wine, but it is rather a delightful if obvious overtone.


Otto,
I think a new term is needed for you: oenocoprophiliac. Gruaud-Larose is indeed well-known for their Brett "problems." I too like it.

Mark Lipton


LOL!! That's good term - do you mind if I plagiarise it at will? I hope it is evident to all, that I am not advocating wines which smell only of shit but that my reactions to the scent are pretty much just countering the squeaky cleanliness of most wines.
I don't drink wine because of religious reasons ... only for other reasons.
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Re: WTN: Château Gruaud Larose 1999

by Mark Lipton » Wed May 10, 2006 4:11 pm

Otto Nieminen wrote:
LOL!! That's good term - do you mind if I plagiarise it at will?


Not at all, Otto. The proper citation is:

Lipton, M. A. WLDG, 2006, pp. 38-39. :wink:

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Re: WTN: Château Gruaud Larose 1999

by Dale Williams » Wed May 10, 2006 4:29 pm

I'm a little surprised at the brettiness, as I felt the 90s Gruauds have been "cleaner" but less interesting than their predeccessors. My note from a vertical last year:
1999 Ch. Gruaud-Larose (St. Julien)
Whew, shows very well in comparison to flightmates. Decent concentration, a mix opf red and black berry fruit,some earth and flowers. OK drink now wine. B
(it was in a flight with the so-so '97 & rather poor '98, which followed at disappointing '94-96 flight- actually '94 was ok for vintage).

The old-style Gruaud is one of my favorite houses with value factored in, and I still have at least one of '70, '79, '83, '86, '88, & '89
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Re: WTN: Château Gruaud Larose 1999

by Redwinger » Wed May 10, 2006 4:36 pm

"Oh Honey. Let's open this wine for dinner tonight. Otto says it smells like shit."

"I don't think so Redwinger. Doesn't sound all that appetizing"

"But it sounds like a great match for your meatloaf dear"....
Smile, it gives your face something to do!
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Re: WTN: Château Gruaud Larose 1999

by Otto » Wed May 10, 2006 5:33 pm

Dale, I agree that Gruaud has become cleaner, but it's certainly not a squaky clean wine. What I'm cofused about is that you say your 1999 was for drinking now! I've had it twice from pristine bottles and both have needed a decade more.
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Re: WTN: Château Gruaud Larose 1999

by wrcstl » Wed May 10, 2006 5:54 pm

Otto,
Too much bret is a bad thing but I like just enough to make you check the bottom of your shoes. Gruaud has always been a favorite Bordeaux of mine and I have 5 years plus just bid on 2 bottles each of '66, '75 and '78 at auction. '99 is one of the years I have not tried. Thanks for the TN.
Walt
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Re: WTN: Château Gruaud Larose 1999

by Dale Williams » Wed May 10, 2006 10:30 pm

Good luck on your decade! I certainly won't argue based on a 2 oz tasting (10 of us having dinner with about 18 vintages). And it may well be that this showed as ready because this might have seen a lot of air (we typically double-decant before these tastings, unsure re the '99- think I brought '75, '81,and maybe '88 -all double-decanted in advance).

But my general feeling (from that tasting and other bottles of recent Gruaud, though maybe not the '99) was that in the mid-90s Gruaud took a big turn from their more traditional big backward style and started to make low-acid fruit-forward friendly-tannin wines. Nothing wrong with that, but not what I was looking for in Gruaud (especially to age).

Of course a lot of drinking windows is merely preference. Sometimes I think that a wine needs to age because the tannins are flat out intrusive in their youth (think '88 & '94). Sometimes I think it needs to age because while it's full at release (think '89, '90, '96 left, '98 right) age will add a beautiful layer of complexity. Other wines I think are best drunk up pretty soon after release ('91. '92, most '97s). Then there are the vintages that are kind of in between. That's how I see most good '99s. I don't think most classed growths will fall apart in 10 years. But not sure how much complexity they'll gain. And why waste cellar space on stuff you're not pretty hopeful is going to really improve (this is not "I only cellar great vintages", I have many individual wines that are not from "collectible" vintages)? I think the '99 LLC for instance has more stuffingand will benefit from cellaring. But I personally (based on one small taste and general "New Gruaud" impressions) would just as soon drink the Gruaud over next couple years with a steak than wait to see if it will ever be a "mature Bordeaux" to drink with roast chicken.

Thanks again for the notes!

(edited to be clear -replaced "it" with "the Gruaud")
Last edited by Dale Williams on Fri May 12, 2006 10:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: WTN: Château Gruaud Larose 1999

by Covert » Wed May 10, 2006 10:54 pm

Dale,

This is three responses to you in succession. A random event. I don't have a fixation or anything. But you do tend to bring up subjects that I am interested in, I guess.

My wife drank a half bottle of '99 Gruaud Larose a few weeks ago when I was out of town. She didn't mention anything about brett or what some people call s--t, or even horsey barn. And Lynn loves the old Talbots and Gruaud Laroses that have that barnyardy element. Maybe Otto got something added in the mix. I'm sure he will let us know if he finds a second bottle similar.

I'm on the horns of a dilemma regarding my '66 Gruaud, which recently arrived in the hands of a sweating brown-suit on an 80 degree day. I am a believer in bottle shock, and I would hate to open a dumb bottle. On the other horn, it is our Anniversary this weekend. Looking forward to the bottle, in any case; hoping that it will have some of that old Cordier stink. I got a kick out of George Cordier's photograph in the oval above the bottle label.

Lastly, my opinion is that the element that people call s--t doesn't really smells like s--t. Even forgetting that no two s--ts smell the same (think people, dogs, cats, horses, etc.), I don't like the smell of any s--t at all; but I absolutely love that element that people call s--t in a red wine. Why can't we just call it the old burg style, or Cordier style, or something like that?

Covert
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Re: WTN: Château Gruaud Larose 1999

by Dale Williams » Thu May 11, 2006 9:48 am

Covert:
I'm a believer in travel shock (actually different from bottle shock, which is only right after bottling). And all other things being equal, I try to let shipped bottles sit 4 weeks or so before opening.

That being said- it's your anniversary, dude! I assume you have it quietly upright to let sediment settle. And hope for the best (I've seen just arrived bottles be wine of the night- the '96 LLC was Monday, and it was ordered specifically for that tasting, arrived Fri). Wouldn't worry too much about heat- shipping through Northeast in styro should have been fine this week. Good luck!

There are actually multiple strains of brett, with somewhat varying faces of "barnyard." The most pleasant (in reasonable quantity) to me do indeed remind me of cow manure in a pasture. Hopefully none remind you of carnivore (dog, cat, people) s--t.

Happy anniversary!
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Re: WTN: Château Gruaud Larose 1999

by Otto » Fri May 12, 2006 5:49 pm

Dale Williams wrote:Good luck on your decade! I certainly won't argue based on a 2 oz tasting (10 of us having dinner with about 18 vintages). And it may well be that this showed as ready because this might have seen a lot of air (we typically double-decant before these tastings, unsure re the '99- think I brought '75, '81,and maybe '88 -all double-decanted in advance).

But my general feeling (from that tasting and other bottles of recent Gruaud, though maybe not the '99) was that in the mid-90s Gruaud took a big turn from their more traditional big backward style and started to make low-acid fruit-forward friendly-tannin wines. Nothing wrong with that, but not what I was looking for in Gruaud (especially to age).

Of course a lot of drinking windows is merely preference. Sometimes I think that a wine needs to age because the tannins are flat out intrusive in their youth (think '88 & '94). Sometimes I think it needs to age because while it's full at release (think '89, '90, '96 left, '98 right) age will add a beautiful layer of complexity. Other wines I think are best drunk up pretty soon after release ('91. '92, most '97s). Then there are the vintages that are kind of in between. That's how I see most good '99s. I don't think most classed growths will fall apart in 10 years. But not sure how much complexity they'll gain. And why waste cellar space on stuff you're not pretty hopeful is going to really improve (this is not "I only cellar great vintages", I have many individual wines that are not from "collectible" vintages)? I think the '99 LLC for instance has more stuffingand will benefit from cellaring. But I personally (based on one small taste and general "New Gruaud" impressions) would just as soon drink the Gruaud over next couple years with a steak than wait to see if it will ever be a "mature Bordeaux" to drink with roast chicken.

Thanks again for the notes!

(edited to be clear -replaced "it" with "the Gruaud")


I think that as so many 99s are so approachable now, at tastings they might give the illusion of being for the short term rather than mid-term - a "mistake" (depending on one's preferences of course) that I made at several tastings until I sat down for dinner with some bottles and got better acquainted with them. A recent pristine bottle of the Gruaud 99 however showed that this will keep well - even this heat afflicted wine was structured. But the low acidity and warm fruit which seem to be signatures of the vintage seem to mask the tannic structure. And, as you say, drinking windows are very personal and I admit to being something of a necrophiliac ;) I understand your point of not wanting to waste cellar space, but I do want more aged qualities in mine, so I do not feel I am wasting my space! As always, de gustibum non est disputandum (though what would be the fun in that?).
I don't drink wine because of religious reasons ... only for other reasons.

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