Château Gruaud-Larose is a Deuxieme Cru, or Second Growth Bordeaux located in St.-Julien-Beychevelle. The estate was founded in 1725 by Joseph Stanislas Gruaud. In the 19th and early 20th centuries the estate remained under the ownership of descendants of Gruaud, though at the end of the 20th century it was purchased several times by corporations. In 1997 it was acquired by the Taillan Group, which owns several other Bordeaux estates. Jacques Merlaut is head of the group and proprietor of the estate. Merlaut has made significant improvements in the recent decade, and many reviewers now note that Gruaud-Larose has become a far more elegant wine. Gruaud-Larose is comprised of 202 acres planted to 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 7.5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot and 1.5% Malbec. About 300,000 bottles are produced annually.
Saint-Julien is the smallest of the four main Médoc appellations with 2,175 acres of vineyards. It is just south of Pauillac on the left bank of the Gironde, and although it has no First Growth châteaux, its 11 Classified Growth estates are widely admired. Robert M. Parker Jr. has written that winemaking in Saint-Julien from all classifications “is consistently both distinctive and brilliant.” He adds it is Médoc’s “most underrated commune.” The best-known estates are Léoville Las Cases, Ducru-Beaucaillou, Léoville Poyferré, Léoville Barton and Gruaud Larose, and most of those have riverside estates. The soil in this appellation is gravelly with clay. Cabernet Sauvignon is the main grape grown, and it is blended with Cabernet Franc, Merlot and sometimes small amounts of Petit Verdot.