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Latour: The Importance
Château Latour is one of the finest wines in Bordeaux and one of the three Pauillac first growths, along with Mouton-Rothschild and Lafite Rothschild. The château is situated on the appellation’s southern edge, shouldering the border with St Julien and just a quickstep from the sloping banks of the Gironde.
Latour is often considered to be the most classic in style of all first growths. Described by Neal Martin as “a supernova around which others orbit”, Latour has a long history at the very top of the Bordeaux hierarchy, making it one of the region’s most desirable wines.
Latour: The Insight
Latour is situated on what could well be the best terroir on the left bank; built upon trademark Pauillac gravel and clay subsoil and perfectly positioned to reap the benefits of the Gironde breeze, Latour combines all the necessary elements for perfect wine. These excellent natural conditions are matched by rigorous production methods, with Antonio Galloni commenting “it is impossible to visit Latour and not be impressed by the total commitment to detail. Nothing goes unobserved”. This yields spectacular results: Latour produces wines of haunting precision, power and finesse – with few finer expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon (80% of the vineyards) to be found anywhere in the world. Other grape varietals grown are Merlot (18%), Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
There are three wines produced at Château Latour: the Grand Vin, Les Forts de Latour and Pauillac de Latour. Latour is often described as one of Bordeaux’s most consistent wines. The Grand Vin is a very serious prospect in any given year, but 1982, 2003, 2009 and 2010 are among its greatest ever vintages, with each awarded 100 points by Robert Parker. Les Forts de Latour comes largely from vines situated outside the heart of the estate and includes some of the younger vines of the flagship Château Latour itself. Occasionally, vats originally destined for the Grand Vin will be incorporated into Les Forts de Latour, and top vintages of this second wine are at the same level of quality as some past vintages of the Grand Vin itself: 2005, 2009 & 2010 spring to mind.
Latour: The Background
While the history of Latour’s emblematic château building dates back to at least the 14th century, its world-renowned vineyards were fully established in the 17th century, making them some of the oldest in Bordeaux. However despite this ancient heritage, Latour is not afraid to buck tradition. The house recently took the unprecedented decision to remove itself from the En Primeur system, meaning that it no longer releases wine still in barrel. This means that 2011 was the last wine to be released from barrel, with all future vintages to be held in Latour’s cellars until they are considered ready to drink. This move sets Latour aside from the other first-growths and has been hailed by some commentators as a shift in the future of Bordeaux.
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