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Gruaud Larose 1999 - all now gone!


Around 2003 I took delivery of a dozen Ch Gruaud Larose 1999 en primeur from, I think, Berry Bros & Rudd - I’m sure it wasn’t from the WS - and have been drinking it over the past eight years or so. This evening my wife and I finished the last bottle of this great dozen. The long cork was in fine condition, the nose was all it should be and the wine too was as one would have expected - a grand and powerful but readily approachable wine with a beautifully smooth impact and dense flavour which stayed in the glass to the last drop. Nowadays I don’t buy top wines en primeur to lay down, on the basis that I may not be around to appreciate them - I’m 76. So I content myself with lesser joys from the WS canon - and thankfully there are plenty of those.


You can always try auctions. Bonham’s are usually good. I’ve used them half a dozen times in the past.


AF - as a 55yr old what should I concentrate on from the WS canon for current drinking?!


Depends on whether you start out with a preference already formed (i.e. Bordeaux over Burgundy, etc.) or whether you are game to travel anywhere. I must admit that, having been weaned onto claret as a lad, this remains my tipple of choice. On the other hand I - we - go these days for Rhone wines - which are delightful and a fraction the price of the top properties - and Beaujolais, especially the Morgons and Fleuries; their range and quality are improving year on year.

But the truth is that the big change since I began buying seriously 40 years ago is that wines from all sources have improved so significantly that you almost never find a ‘bad’ wine. I believe that the high peaks and deep valleys have been leveled to a more uniform profile. That, plus the fact that prices of top chateaux have been driven out of reach by, amongst other factors, the Chinese market, results in my reach being nowadays less ambitious. But the WS list remains, in my view, overall the best there is.