I was delighted to taste the 2018 Gruaud Larose, as I missed it en primeur. Ripe and sweet on attack, Gruaud Larose is an especially dense, flamboyant Saint-Julien. Inky red fruit, mocha, wild flowers and spice abound. I find the new oak a bit overpowering, but the 2018 is an undeniably gorgeous and enticing wine.
Anticipated maturity: 2026-2048
James Suckling 95
Aromas of currants, blackberries, dried flowers, dark chocolate and tobacco leaves. Citrus zest, too. It’s full-bodied with firm, ultra fine tannins. Complex and layered with a juicy core of ripe fruit. Silky and delicious. Very creamy and fine-tannined. Better from 2025.
Robert Parker 92
Composed of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc, the 2018 Gruaud Larose has a medium to deep garnet-purple color. It comes barreling out of the glass with powerful scents of blackberry preserves, baked plums and crème de cassis plus hints of fruitcake, Indian spices and tobacco leaf. The medium to full-bodied palate offers bags of baked berries flavors and a chewy texture with just enough freshness, finishing spicy. Judging by the slightly rustic tannins and suggestions of dried berry characters, I’m guessing the heat and drought had an impact this year. This said, the wine is very well crafted and delicious right now, although a good 3-4 years in bottle should soften the tannins and bring out further nuances.
Anticipated maturity: 2024-2038
Jeb Dunnuck 97
Based on 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc, the 2018 Château Gruaud Larose sports a dense purple hue as well as a stunning nose of pure crème de cassis, cedar pencil shavings, blackcurrants, smoked tobacco, and a liquid rock-like sense of minerality. This dense, almost broodingly backward, concentrated Saint-Julien has flawless balance, a remarkable sense of purity, masses of tannins, and one hell of a great finish. Seemingly almost from a more austere year (say 2000 or 2010), it’s not going to hit maturity for at least a decade and should cruise in cold cellars for 20-30 years. It’s a brilliant wine!
Anticipated maturity: 2029-2059
Jane Anson 93
Primary blackberry and blueberry fruits abound, rippling with tar, chocolate, bristling tannins. A gorgeous wine, full of gourmet edges, seductive and creamy, if a little less St Julien in signature than the other more recent vintages of Gruaud Larose – as was typical in a vintage with such a warm summer, and such a concentration of flavours in the September leading up to harvest. 40hl/h yield, 90% new oak. 50% of the vineyard was being farmed organically at this stage, with harvest from September 20 to October 6. Second vintage for Virginie Sallette as technical director, as she had arrived in 2017 from Ducru Beaucaillou.
Anticipated maturity: 2026-2044