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Château Gruaud Larose is a wine estate in the Saint-Julien appellation of the Médoc, ranked as a second growth in the 1855 Bordeaux Classification. It is widely regarded as a classic Saint-Julien wine, and is known for its sensible pricing. Most releases need 10 to 15 years to be appreciated at their best. The vineyard is situated southwest of the village of Beychevelle, on gravel banks sloping towards le Marais de Beychevelle, a marsh that separates Saint-Julien from the vineyards of the central Médoc. The soil is a mix of gravel, pebbles, sand, clay and humus over a subsoil of different clays, sand and pebbles. A total of 82 hectares (203 acres) are planted – 60 percent of vines are Cabernet Sauvignon, with 30 percent Merlot, 7 percent Cabernet Franc and 3 percent Petit Verdot. The proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon has risen in recent decades and there are plans to increase this to around 70 percent over coming years. In the winery, grapes are fermented in large wooden vats before aging in barrel for 18 months. The property was formed from three merged estates in 1757 by Joseph Gruaud. He left the property to a Monsieur de Larose in 1771. From 1865, the property was split into separate estates as a result of inheritance, but was reunited in 1935. It was bought by the current owners, the Merlaut family, in 1997. Their Groupe Taillan owns numerous other Bordeaux properties, including Haut-Bages Libéral in Pauillac, Chasse-Spleen in Moulis, and a share in Osoyoos Larose in Canada. A second wine, Sarget de Gruaud Larose (named after a former owner) has also been made since 1979. This is often rated as a bargain, particularly in better vintages. Average annual production averages around 150,000 bottles for the grand vin and 250,000 for Sarget de Gruaud Larose. Even in such a great year as 2005, strict selection means that only 55 percent of production was released as the first wine.