Something about Chateau Latour
Chateau Latour can trace its history to the 14th century when the original tower was constructed on the estate by Gaucelme de Castillon during the Hundred Years War. The ancient Pauillac estate is among the four of the Medoc vineyards designated as a first growth in the classification of 1855 and today is owned by François Pinault’s through his holding company, Artemis. The 78 hectare vineyard of Latour rests on an extraordinary terroir and is planted with 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot and 2% of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
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A spectacular Latour, the 1996 may be the modern day clone of the 1966, only riper. This vintage, which is so variable in Pomerol, St.-Emilion, and Graves, was fabulous for the late-harvested Cabernet Sauvignon of the northern Medoc because of splendid weather in late September and early October. An opaque purple color is followed by phenomenally sweet, pure aromas of cassis infused with subtle minerals. This massive offering possesses unreal levels of extract, full body, intensely ripe, but abundant tannin, and a finish that lasts for nearly a minute. Classic and dense, it displays the potential for 50-75 years of longevity. Although still an infant, it would be educational to taste a bottle. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2050.
Deep garnet-black in color, the 1996 is classic Latour at its utmost. The nose offers a tantalizing array of complex notes including dried Chinese plums, toasted nuts, Indian spices and black olive tapenade over a core of dried cherries and aged meat. The palate is pure power that is stunningly balanced giving a generous level of fruit concentration perfectly offset by a high level of very finely grained tannins and seamless freshness. Possessing a finish that just goes on and on, this is as good as it gets.
The 1996 Latour is a wine that I often find overrated and did not achieve everything that might have been possible in this favourable growing season. That said, this might well be the best of around two dozen bottles I have encountered over the years. As usual, the 1996 is decidedly austere at first, standoffish, looks down its nose at you. Yet it coalesces with time and develops engaging cedar-scented black fruit tinged with pencil box and a touch of iris with time. The palate (again) is a little muted at first but it soon found its voice and evolved very fine tannin allied with a crisp line of acidity. It is not quite as demonstrative as it was even just a couple of years ago, gained some detail and perhaps it will continue to meliorate. Very fine, very fine indeed - but not a patch of say, the Château Margaux or perhaps even Léoville Las Cases. Tasted at the International Business & Wine Latour dinner at Ten Trinity.
Nose wonderful, complex and open, developed yet youthful, mature damp earth and charcoal hints, dark blackcurrant fruit, cedar wood with cranberry and ripe black cherry, very complex and deep, just starting to open up. Excellent. Drink 2009-2026.Date tasted 7th July 09.