Château Gloria is one of the hidden gems of Bordeaux. Located right in the heart of St Julien, there is frankly no way that it wouldn’t be a classified growth if not for the fact that it didn’t exist at the time Bordeaux’s classification was made. More on that below, but the end result is that their spectacular 2010, at nearly a decade old and with all sorts of praise and points thrown at it from all directions, is way cheaper than it should be. Even accounting for Gloria’s usual excellence and value, this is punching above its weight. Three tasting notes below from Messrs Parker and Martin below from three different years, all unanimous that this is one of the sleepers of 2010.
2010 Château Gloria, St Julien
Tasted blind at the Southwold Bordeaux 2010 tasting. The outstanding Gloria 2010 has a lovely bouquet with ripe blackberry, briary, cedar and tobacco fruit that is very precise. The palate is medium-bodied, the tannins exerting a gentle but insistent grip. This is very well balanced and focused with superbly integrated oak on the satisfying finish. Great out of barrel, great in bottle, this is a Saint Julien that has really upped its game in recent vintages. 94 pts., Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate, Jan 2014
Tasted at the Union de Grand Cru in London. The Gloria 2010 leaps out of the glass: blackberry, boysenberry, cedar and graphite aromas that are pure and beautifully defined. This palate does not disappoint: mineral rich black fruit, a saline tang, hints of sous-bois and a beautifully controlled but intense graphite finish that reminds me of Ducru-Beaucaillou. This is an outstanding Saint Julien from an estate that has produced a clutch of high performing wines in recent years. Perhaps the greatest Gloria ever made? 95 pts., Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate, Nov 2012
The 2010 Gloria is an ass-kicking, fabulous value once again from this estate, which would probably be classified if the 1855 hierarchy of the wines of the Medoc were ever done again. Abundant notes of cedar wood, fruitcake, flowers, creme de cassis and kirsch are all present in this full-bodied, opulent, dense, dark ruby/purple wine. It is slightly more restrained than the flamboyant 2009, but equal in quality. This is a juicy, well-proportioned, sensationally concentrated, super-ripe Gloria to drink over the next decades. Of course, it is a sleeper of the vintage, given the reasonable price it normally sells for. 93 pts., Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate, Feb 2013
More about the wine:
Château Gloria is really the story of two legends of the Medoc rolled into one. The first is of the son of a barrel maker, born in 1902, who grew to be described by the French newspaper Figaro as the ‘Mythical Soul of the Médoc’. The second is of one of its greatest secrets, an estate lovingly put together from vines previously belonging to some of Bordeaux’s most revered vineyards, by one of the greatest winemakers in its history. However, it’s one which has always had its price limited to an extent by the fact that it wasn’t included in the 1855 classification, for the rather understandable reason that it didn’t exist at the time.
Gloria is indeed pretty unique among the more prestigious Médoc properties in that (relatively speaking), it’s new. The ‘château’ started as the mid-20th century personal project of one of the region’s most legendary figures, Henri Martin. Martin was an exceptional man – born at Gruaud Larose where his father was a cooper, he rose to become mayor of St Julien and stayed in the position for forty years, while also serving as manager of first growth Château Latour and building up his own now world famous estate simultaneously.
Martin didn’t inherit land, but from his youth he’d dreamed of owning vines in his beloved St Julien, and in the most challenging times of mid-war 1942, he acquired six hectares from the great classified growth Château Beychevelle. Slowly but surely, by the 1960s he’d added another forty four hectares from other superstar neighbours, including Talbot, Lagrange, Léoville-Barton, and even his birthplace of Gruaud-Larose. Interestingly, the end result includes nine hectares which are in fact over the border in Pauillac – which they’re allowed to blend into their St Julien. The sum of these vineyards is now one of the best-value, best-loved estates in the whole of Bordeaux, and a real personal favourite of mine.