Bold and concentrated wines have been made at Château Latour in 2014. They are fresh and vivid. There is a sense to me that these are long-term wines that have elegance and proportionality. Les Forts was more closed on the day than the grand vin which looks very impressive. We won’t see any of these wines for years, however, as the property has pulled out of the en primeur system. It now only releases wines when they are ready to drink. Currently it is the knock-out 2003 Latour, the famous Parker hundred pointer, that is on offer. This is brilliant stuff, even when tasted at nine in the morning. It has bags of life, fruit and sweet ripe tannin. It shrieks out for rib of beef. Also released are 2008 Les Forts de Latour and the 2011 Pauillac de Latour.
There is no doubt that Latour is at the top of its game. The fastidiousness here and attention to detail is extraordinary. Returning to 2014, the growing season was not without its challenges despite a precocious start to the cycle. There were big storms in May, and although June brought hot weather, July and August were cool and humid. As elsewhere it was the sunny and dry weather that began in late August and continued all through September that allowed the gentle and homogenous ripening of the grapes through to an unhurried harvest. The results do look extremely promising.
As outlined at the top Château Latour opted out of the en primeur system three years ago, so the 2014s aren’t available yet, and the current releases join the 2014s on tasting. This has to be one of the great treats of the primeurs tasting week. It’s not often I get the chance to taste mature Latour. Last year it was the turn of the 2004 [very impressive for the vintage]; this year it was the mouthwatering 2003. Overall the wines from that heat wave vintage have developed unevenly but I don’t have any doubts about Latour [£6500/$10,400 a case of twelve for the 2003]. This is full, glossy, ripe Pauillac, with just the right amount of maturity evident to encourage you to tuck in now, assuming you’ve sufficient wallet/purse for the stuff. The considerable extract and deceptively supple tannin suggest that this wine has the capacity to develop for another couple of decades at least. It is terrific wine.
Also tasted were 2008 Les Forts de Latour and the 2011 Pauillac. Both look in good shape, although were overshadowed by the scale and quality of the 2003 grand vin. The 2008 Les Forts [£1200/$1920 a case] is attractive and well balanced and shows the freshness of the vintage. The 2011 Pauillac [£420 a case of 12] shows graphite and blackcurrant tones and grip and sap on the palate. It is good, though if you are tempted I’d opt for the 2009 Pauillac if you still see any about. It’s a fraction more expensive [£500/$800 a case] but it is a brilliant wine, easily of top cru classé quality.
The following six wines were tasted at Château Latour on Thursday, 2 April, 2015.
Pauillac de Latour, Pauillac, 2014
Mid depth; redder at edge with purple; bright fruit; fresh; blackcurrants; fresh blackcurrants; wet rock notes; textured with grip; cool fruit and acids; nice grip and chew. Freshness and sap. More ripeness from the Merlot; some spice; bright and grippy; vivid. [50.6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42.3% Merlot, 7.1% Petit Verdot, 13.02alc, IPT 65, 26% of production]. Drink 2019-2028. 88-90+
Les Forts de Latour, Pauillac, 2014
Very fresh colour; earthy purple at the edge; firm; substantial; mineral; wet rock; layers; tight; tightness; little oak; tight and closed on the palate; matter; acidity; grip; lots of matter; elegance; acidity and fresh; opens up later to reveal pretty fruit and layers; bright, vivid black cherry and blackcurrant fruit; tighter still though; bit closed and shut down; chew and acid on the finish. Needs to settle but potentially exciting. [71.4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28.6% Merlot, 13.01alc, IPT 70, 40.1% of production]. Drink 2022-2030. 91-93+
Château Latour, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac, 2014
Deep and saturated; lovely colour; tight to the rim; sweet ripe blackcurrants; very nice seam of blackcurrants on the nose; layered; nice density; very polished; more open on the nose but considerable density; acid and fruit; freshness; very correct; perhaps a little strict at this stage; acidity and freshness very overt; lots of matter; very nice length. Long and elegant finish. Later opened up to reveal more bright black cherry and cassis notes on the nose; mineral palate with chew and extract on the finish; acidity strong and grippy. Very impressive, long-term Latour. [89.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.2% Merlot, 0.6% Cabernet Franc, 0.3% Petit Verdot, 12.89alc, IPT 77, 33.9% of production]. Drink 2023-2035. 95-97+
Pauillac de Latour, Pauillac, 2011
Mid depth; some reddening at edge; nice cedar and blackcurrant; some graphite; little lift; blackcurrant fruit tones; some plum; vigour on the finish. Good extract and sap. Nicely done. [37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 63% Merlot]. Drink now-2024. 89+
Les Forts de Latour, Pauillac, 2008
Deep at centre; redder at edge; spice; blackcurrants; little tobacco; lapsang notes; nice lift; fresh palate; acidity; some texture; elegance; little awkward after the 2003 [tasted in that order]; chew and extract but proportion; fresh and acidity. Little chew at the back. Little dry on the finish. Drink now – 2030. [66.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31.5% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot]. 91+
Château Latour, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac, 2003
Deep and mature looking; dark centre; earthy red at edge; beautiful aromatics; fully mature; spices; blackcurrants; earth; warmth here; lots of depth and ripeness; spices; blackcurrants tones and tobacco notes on the palate; substance and extract; plenty of matter here but super ripe tannins; lots of meat on the bone and some tannins still to resolve. Excellent finish. Chew and texture. Brilliant stuff. [81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot]. Drink now-2035. 98+