- posted 14 years ago
Last night 11 winelovers gathered at Michael's in midtown for a Gruaud-Larose vertical. We were supposed to be 12, but one guy on list was unexpectedly out of town. He was to bring the '85, and we were hoping a bottle of the '02 would arrive in time, it didn't make it either. But other than those 2 vintages we had most of the most promising vintages of the last 40 years.
First of all, let me say Michael's did an excellent job. Food was very good, service excellent, setting very nice. We mostly carried our own stems, but they supplemented for a few folks with decent glasses, and provided a couple of decanters.Not a private room, but a nice quite corner.
I figured with 20 wines to go, 8% ABV was about right for the starter. The 2000 D=F6nnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Sp=E4tlese was open for business (thanks David Bueker for advice as to which D=F6nnhoffs were closed down). Sprightly lime fruit, a little cherry on the finish, lovely and balanced. A-
On to the Gruauds, in order tasted: First flight- 1970, 1975, and 1978- when I first tasted, '70 was my favorite, but my end of flight I felt '78 was clear winner.
1970 Ch. Gruaud-Larose (St. Julien) Started off with a nice nose, some very nice briary red fruit, but quickly faded into inconsequentialness in glass. Drink up, now. B
1975 Ch. Gruaud-Larose (St. Julien) Couple hours in decanter (almost Port-like sediment) before return to bottle for trip to city. Not enough. Slightly lifted nose at first, then just tight and tannic. Hard wine that still needs lots of time. Debate at table whether fruit will last. I think there's some nice stuff waiting there, but I'm glad I'm not waiting- this was only bottle. B/B-
1978 Ch. Gruaud-Larose (St. Julien) A funk at first that led to questions of TCA. But it blew off, and what emerged was a nice wine featuring dark fruit with a leathery/cedary edge. A nice fully mature wine marred by a bit of a short finish. B/B+
Next we backed up for a 1966, after giving it a little (not enough) time for sediment to settle. 1966 Ch. Gruaud-Larose (St. Julien) Kirschy fruit, very soft but rather appealing. Lots of secondary notes of cigarbox and dead leaves dancing around in back. Some tar to (in ways reminded me of a slightly-past-it Barolo) Probably on downside, but nice. B/B+
Somewhere in here an amuse of spicy shrimp shows up. Tasty, but horrible match with the Bordeaux- can someone pass me the D=F6nnhoff? Next flight up '81, '82, '83. Each gets a flight prize- '81 for overachieving, '82 for potential, '83 for now
1981 Ch. Gruaud-Larose (St. Julien) Not decanted as I feared it might fade during trip in. Overshadowed by its flightmates, but a credible showing. Much lighter-bodied than other 2, but clean black fruit, some mushroom and leather. Mark says "classic claret" (not in sense of destined to be a classic, but as typical mature Bordeaux). Nice wine I'd be happy to have around dinner table with roast chicken. B+/B
1982 Ch. Gruaud-Larose (St. Julien) I think John said opened in afternoon, but not decanted. Backward, needs time. Massive concentrated dark fruit waiting to come out, a little time coaxed some tobacco and earth. B+ (A potential)
1983 Ch. Gruaud-Larose (St. Julien) Blast of flowers on the nose, dark berry fruit with some spice and leather. Really very nice and drinking beautifully. B+/A-
My first course was quail, served over some cheesey gnocchi . Good, but overshadowed by sample of Mark's delicious sweetbreads. I'll make a trip back just for that appetizer. Next was the '86, served by itself
1986 Ch. Gruaud-Larose (St. Julien) Much more forward than I expected. Could use some time, but not the tannic monster I feared. Really nice powerful Bordeaux. Someone (David?) says it's best showing he's seen of the '86. B+/A-
Next flight was my favorite of the night - '88, '89, & '90 1988 Ch. Gruaud-Larose (St. Julien) Classy and classic: blackcurrants, leather, and leadpencil. Widely available for less than $50, this is a deal. A-/B+
1989 Ch. Gruaud-Larose (St. Julien) Clear earth and cassis, with cedar on the nose and a long finish. I nurse for a while, liking more and more. A-
1990 Ch. Gruaud-Larose (St. Julien) There's a funny menthol note there (others call it eucalyptus), and the fruit has a bit of a roasted character to it. Fat wine. Others like more than I do. B
My main course was a nice dry-aged strip steak, and asparagus (that's what water is for) and very good arugula/garlic mashed potatoes. Good reports from those that had the duck and suckling pig, as well as those that had the enormous porterhouse. Next up, the most disappointing flight of the night- '94, '95, '96
1994 Ch. Gruaud-Larose (St. Julien) Actually this wasn't a disappointment, but a rather pleasant surprise. More open and less tannic than I expected. A bit light, with cherry cough syrup fruit. But a pleasant enough wine from a year that can be actively unpleasant. B
1995 Ch. Gruaud-Larose (St. Julien) Closed and shutdown. Raspberry fruit, hard tannins. Another 1995 that I'm beginning to wonder whether it'll ever live up to vintage hype. B-
1996 Ch. Gruaud-Larose (St. Julien) Tight, lighter than I expected. Less concentrated and more closed than other '96 St. Juliens I've had recently. B/B-
If previous flight was most disappointing, the '97, '98, and '99 was simply my least favorite.
1997 Ch. Gruaud-Larose (St. Julien) Thin, dilute, blah. B-/C+
1998 Ch. Gruaud-Larose (St. Julien) Poor. No concentration, unripe tannins. I've recently been upgrading my mental image of '98 Left Bank, after some good showings on Leoville-Poyferre, L-Barton, etc. But this is a good counterargument. C+
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
A cheese plate went around, an aged Gruyere my favorite. The final flight of Gruaud made the rounds: 2000 Ch. Gruaud-Larose (St. Julien) Big, with lots of (thankfully ripe) tannins. More open than I expected, a big concentrated wine in need of time. B+/A-
2001 Ch. Gruaud-Larose (St. Julien) Floral/spicy nose, a bit less exciting on the palate. Medium-bodied, accessible, not for long term. B/+
2001 Lafaurie-Peyraugey. Wow. Lots of botrytis on nose, complex and compelling. Delicous Sauternes. Plenty of botrytis. Tropical fruit, apricots and orange peel over a big structure. Needs time, but very nice now. A-
We did a quick tally at end. Everyone got 3 votes- 3 points for favorite Gruaud, 2 for second, 1 for third. I went with '89, '88, & '83, though I could easily have gone for '86 or '82 as third. I was slightly out of step with group, as voting went: '86 19 points '82 12 '83 8 '88 6 '89 5 ''90 5 '00 2 '78 1 '81 1
Good night, good people. Certainly I felt the '80s Gruaud showed far better than the '90s. Strangely, I felt Gruaud did pretty well with some of the so-so 90s vintages like '94 & '99, yet flopped compared to other classed-growths with the '96 (and on '90, though not as badly). Cheers.
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency