TN: 2003 Château Gruaud Larose (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien)

2003 Château Gruaud Larose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien (11/19/2019)

4th time I have had this wine. The last was in 2013. I bought half a case on futures for $39 per bottle. 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec. Not decanted. Deep red color. Excellent balance at 16 years old. Typical Gruaud profile. Notes of tobacco leaf, cassis and cedar. An earthy texture with integrated tannins at present. No oxidation. Medium bodied with a long smooth finish. Not showing any heat for a 2003. Really in a nice spot in my opinion although no rush to drink. 94 points.


How many positive 2003 LB notes will it take before people admit that 03 was a pretty good vintage on the left bank?

Certain wines for sure. Lots of flabby wines too, but St. Julien, St. Estephe and Pessac-Leognan/Graves did well in a warmer vintage, definitely some Pauillac’s too, I am a big fan of Pontet Canet.

Much of it comes down to Chateau/Winemaker/Philosophy, late picks didn’t help wines IMO.

Having a good 2003 left bank Bordeaux. The 2003 Calon Segur I had earlier this year had too much alcohol and felt overripe. And I usually love Calon Segur. YMMV.

I’m particularly interested when I occasionally get to see notes about 2003 BDX from blind tastings. I think people often go into trying 2003s non-blind with a lot of preconceptions about overripeness and alcohol that can make it hard to judge them on their own merits.

That’s not to suggest that everyone who observes those things just talked himself into it because he saw 2003 on the label, but I think we’re all susceptible to preconceived notions about wines we taste, and there are acutely strong ones when it comes to 2003 Bordeaux.

Thanks Jeff - I’m a great fan of Gruaud but for some reason I’ve never tasted an 03, so your note inspired me to track some down.

Greg, it’s been a few years since I last tried it, but I never found Calon to be over-alcoholic, OTOH I certainly agree it wasn’t very good, and even at the time, rather expensive for what you got. I happily sold my remaining bottles.

Chris, I think you’re right, but I would liken it to a trip to the dentist - bad previous experiences make one expect the worst!

A lot depends on the appellation - I bought lots of second and third tier Margaux at EP, not suspecting how bad they would be - simply because there had never, ever, been a vintage that tastes like that.

I pushed this wine hard on the Parker board, when it was just $30 per bottle.

Sorry, I should have been more clear - I found that the alcohol was out of balance, not that it was too alcoholic. If that makes sense. I didn’t get a “fruit bomb” sense out of it, more that the alcohol wasn’t integrated well.

As always, I think it’s great people like these, and not out of some cynical “I’m going to sell them!” view. I’ve just not enjoyed 03s from almost any part of France; earlier this year I called an 03 Lafarge Clos de Chenes (one of my favorite wines in Burgundy) a new world syrah blind. Not a Bordeaux, but my experience has been uniformly less than great with the vintage in all parts of France.

On the other hand, I think the 04 Gruaud is terrific, and I’ve always loved it.

Tasting the '04 next to Shafer '04 Merlot was a lovely eye opening experience.

How so?

And welcome to the board, I hope you’ll continue posting here.