Chateau Gruaud Larose 1990

It's important to remember patience with wine, especially a bottle with age and pedigree. This isn't out of pretence or ceremony but rather because you want to get the best out of something special.

I opened this bottle with some friends before Christmas. It's a wine I've visited a few times before and always thought it required more time. We fashioned a rudimentary decanter and poured some glasses. We sipped slowly once or twice and then left it for about twenty minutes.

Still youthful colour with good brilliance - deep, ruby & crimson at the core.

The nose starts off a little unappealing; stewed and reductive, suggesting perhaps some bret taint. After about 20 minutes it sheds the unpleasantness. Smokey, soured leather comes through with fleshy dark stone fruit and that earthiness that suggests classic Gruaud.

On the palate it lacks definition; tight, soured, stewed and old. Burnt orange and oven scrapings. So we set it down for awhile and watch Pete's new kittens fight, play and thunder through the flat. The Burmese is cuddly while the Bengal is not.

Returning to the glass is a revelation. The dust and cobwebs shrugged off and the fruit sheds its sour, burnt orange notes. The textured stones and minerality come through, the mouthfeel is fleshy with great grip - cherries and plums with bright juiciness. It feels like biting into something. At the core is that meaty, savoury and rustic Gruaud note - this is a St Julien treat, the region's most masculine wine. The wine is still young, needing time, patience and at least an hour's decanting.

Tasted 21/12/09 on Devonshire Rd