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Bordeaux 2015: Château Latour

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_1012Cabernet Sauvignon doesn’t find any more complete an expression than at Château Latour, conjured from its unique terroir adjacent to the Gironde on Pauillac’s southern border with St Julien. Although Latour no longer releases wine to sell en primeur, it still shows samples of the previous vintage each April, along with the wines the château is currently releasing. This year was the mouthwatering prospect of the 2010 Pauillac de Latour, Les Forts de Latour 2009 and Château Latour 2000 [pictured] – a cross section of perhaps the finest ever recent vintages for this property. In this formidable company the 2015 made a good impression, despite the vagaries of the weather in September here in the northern left bank. 2015 Latour has plenty of extract but displays wonderful harmony and the flattering aromatic qualities that mark this vintage.

The 2015 growing season started somewhat slowly with a comparatively late bud break at the start of the cycle, before hot and dry weather in early June helped complete an ideal flowering period. July was also very hot and dry [only 15mm of rain in the month] and the drought conditions delayed veraison [the colour change in the grapes from green to black]. August was wetter, twice as wet as the 36 year average at Latour, which helped ripening. The beginning of September was cool but sunny, but the second week brought rain [including 60 mm on the weekend 12-13 September] and the rest of the month was comparatively unsettled. Harvest began for the Merlot on September 15 and continued to September 21. The Cabernet Sauvignon began its harvest on September 28, through to October 10.

Despite the vintage rain, which undoubtedly has affected quality somewhat in Pauillac in 2015 [and even more so in St Estèphe], Latour’s magnificent terroir shines through. No expense is spared here either in the vineyard or the winery, and it must be said that these 2015s are beautifully judged in winemaking terms. They display attractive purity and I’d imagine they’d be released reasonably early by the property given their vivacious fruit tones and harmony. Les Forts reminds me a little of their knockout 2010, though with less power. Latour itself shows beautiful blackcurrant fruit and feels surprisingly open. I’d imagine it will put on more weight during elévage. For me it vies with Mouton for Pauillac’s crown in 2015.

Château Latour’s current releases are an absolute treat. They kick off with their Pauillac [effectively the 3rd wine here] from the 2010 vintage. This impressed early on during primeurs five years ago and today impresses as much as the 2009. It’s spot on Pauillac. It will take another five years in the cellar and develop more complexity but it is simply delicious right now. Les Forts de Latour 2009 displays powerful blackcurrant aromatics with lots of extract and matter on the palate. The tannins are ripe and sublime. Then comes 2000 Latour itself. This tranche is probably the last substantial release of this wine by the château. It shows wonderful power, vitality and length. Clearly it has plenty of life ahead of it. Perfect Pauillac surely? Get your chequebooks out….

The following detailed notes were taken on Thursday 7th April, 2016.

Pauillac de Latour, 2015

Excellent depth; mid red/purple at edge; classic Pauillac nose; blackcurrants; pencil and some leaf; pretty and quite beautiful; firmish entry but cool and elegant with nice structure and balance; spice and mineral touches; has good length. Spice on the finish. Excellent effort. Drink 2021-2030. [54.2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41.7% Merlot, 4.1% Petit Verdot, 13.5% alc, IPT 65, 30% of production]. 89-91+

Les Forts de Latour, Pauillac, 2015

Very vibrant at edge; saturated look; lovely depth; attractive fruit but more tightly focused; deep and special; lovely blackcurrant purity; minerals and some spices; nicely integrated nose; weighty and full; this is impressive; intensity; good length and structure on the palate. Excellent. Very impressive structure. Great length. Reminds me a little of the knockout 2010. Drink 2023-2035. [63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35.6% Merlot, 0.5% Cabernet Franc, 0.9% Petit Verdot, 13.3% alc, IPT66, 40% of production]. 93-95+

Château Latour, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac, 2015

Very deep; purple edge; deep blackcurrant; some cassis; some graphite; lovely seam of fruit; little subdued at first; mineral tones; real intensity; tightly packed blackcurrants; really lovely fruit; very beautiful Latour; extract and flesh; plenty of matter but quite flattering to taste already; open; plenty of blackcurrant fruit an extract [growing in weight day to day according to the technical director]. Excellent length. Drink 2023-2040. [97.1% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.6% Merlot, 0.3% Petit Verdot, 13.04% alc, IPT 69, 30% of production]. 95-97

Current Releases:

Pauillac de Latour 2010

Deep colour; tightish earthy red at edge; lovely maturity; pencils, blackcurrants; graphite; textbook mature Pauillac; lovely! Cedar and spice too – lots going on; some leaf; great stuff; lovely nose; blackcurrant tones on the palate with spices and some tobacco notes; nice grip and acidity on the finish; plenty of texture and grip. This could easily take five more years but is wonderful now. Good length too. Drink now to 2022. [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44.5% Merlot, 0.5% Cabernet Franc]. 92+

Les Forts de Latour, Pauillac, 2009

Very deep; legs; dark core; powerful blackcurrants; roasted note; roast meats and blackcurrants; spices and some vanilla at the edge but still quite young; just starting to get interesting! Lovely voluptuous fruit on the palate; lot of extract and matter; big and weighty; great finish. Give this five more years and it will hold for twenty; lovely length here on the end; oodles of wonderfully ripe tannin. Cries out for rib of beef! [65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32.5% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, 0.5% Cabernet Franc]. Drink now to 2030. 96+

Château Latour, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac, 2000

Still dark at the core [last release from the Château]; red at edge but still tight to rim; pencil; graphite; blackcurrant spice; tobacco notes creeping in; lovely nose; so much going on; complex; structured and deep on the palate; really strong wine; still pretty tannic; needs another decade or so to hit its stride but this is powerful Pauillac in the very greatest sense. Fabulous length on the finish. Drink now to 2040. [77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot]. 100

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