This 'Super Second' began its life in 1725 under the direction of the Gruaud brothers. One a magistrate, and the other a priest, they owned 116 hectares of gravelly soil in southern St. Julien. From it they produced an exquisite wine which would be exported as far as Asia. When the brothers died, the estate passed to the magistrate's son-in-law, Joseph Sebastien de La Rose, a competent winemaker himself who would continue the brothers' tradition. After Joseph, however, the story gets complicated: Gruaud Larose passed through the hands of several heirs, found itself split in two, classified as a Second Growth in 1855 and finally reunited by the Cordier group in 1935. Today, Jacques Merlaut of the Taillan Group owns the Château.
The Gruauds' original 116 hectares have expanded to 150, of which 82 are planted to five grape varietals -- 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6.5% Cab Franc, 4% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec. The Grand Vin, Château Gruaud Larose, can seem deceptively approachable early on owing to its sweet fruit, but the wine's major tannic clout generally calls for extended aging. On the palate, expect an earthy, leathery, densely packed wine that typically suggests an almost roasted ripeness. Around 25,000 cases of this St. Julien standout are produced each year.