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An aromatic bottle of 1975 Chateau Gruaud-Larose


Chateau Gruaud-Larose is one of several estates in the Domaines Cordier portfolio.  While the Gruaud-Larose estate itself dates back to the 18th century, it was not until the 1930s when it was fully acquired by the Cordier family.  The estate encompasses some 150 hectares of which more than half are planted with vines.  By the 1980s these vines were comprised mostly of Cabernet Sauvignon followed by Merlot with smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.  There was a bad fire in 1965 that resulted in a portion of the cellers being rebuilt.  The cuvier comprised a long line of large wooden vats on one side with glass-lined vats on the opposite side.  The wine was fermented in the glass-lined vats then immediately transferred to the large wooden vats.  Here the wine was aged for one or two months before being transferred into traditional Bordeaux barriques. The period in large vats slowed maturation thus enhancing the fruit.

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You will notice that our bottle of 1975 Chateau Gruaud-Larose is not of the standard Bordeaux shape.  This special bottle was introduced in 1960.  Throughout the 1960s the glass seal reproduced an image of M. George Cordier but in 1970 this was replaced by his initials.

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The 1975 vintage experienced a hot and dry summer.  The berries with their high sugar content, ample pigment, and thick skins yielded fruity wines of high alcohol but also high tannins. Thus the vintage was received favourably after the miserable 1972, 1973, and 1974 vintages.  Trade tastings in the 1980s confirmed the tannic nature of these wines.  Tasting in 1990, David Peppercorn found the 1975 to be the best of the decade being “very rich and concentrated, tannic without being too dry, with a dimension lacking in the 1978.”  Tasting during the same year Clive Coates was less enthusiastic noting, “There is fruit here, but the whole thing is rather dense and charmless.  Not exciting.”  Apparently tasted in the early 2000s, Michael Broadbent was pleased, “excellent nose; surprisingly sweet entry leading to a very dry astringent finish by way of attractive fragrance and flavour ****“.

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Lou and I randomly grabbed this particular bottle from a lot of three.  The fill was at the very top of the sloped shoulders.  Upon cutting the foil, the cork was covered with a quarter-inch of mold which when wet, took the appears of mud. The cork answered well to the screw of the Durand, revealing both its excellent state and ultimately, that it was firmly stoppering the bottle.  With some effort it was removed and being longer than the screw, the end had to be removed separately.  Michael Broadbent’s tasting note reveals the main characteristic of our particular bottle and that is the nose.  From the very first pour the wine had that sweet, mature, cedar box aroma.  Indeed, the next day the dregs still smelled that way with the cork maintaining an added wet tobacco aroma.  The nose alone provided enough pleasure but the modest amount of remaining fruit carried the wine through cheering us up at the end of the work week. This wine was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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1975 Chateau Gruaud-Larose, Saint-Julien (730 mL indicated on both labels but 75 cL on bottle)
Imported by Majestic Wine and Spirits, Inc.  11% – 13%.  For over two hours there was a lovely cedar box nose.  In the mouth were tart red fruit flavors followed by plenty of tangy acidity.  The firm flavors mixed with an attractive, old wood note.  The wine finished with citric tannins that coated the gums.  ** Now but will last.

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Broadbent, Michael.  Pocket Vintage Wine Companion. Harcourt, Inc. 2007.
Coates M.W., Clive. Grands Vins. University of California Press. 1995.
Penning-Rowsell, Edmund. The Wines of Bordeaux, Sixth Edition. Penguin Books. 1989
Peppercorn, David. Bordeaux, Second Edition. Faber & Faber. 1991.

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