Just Arrived: Ch. LATOUR (pricing corrected)

JUST ARRIVED: Chateau Latour 2000 and Les Forts de Latour 2009 direct from the cellars of the chateau: Available from the temperature-controlled third floor of Spec’s at 2410 Smith Street in Houston.chlatour

Ch. LATOUR, Pauillac, 2000 ($1113.89)
77% Cabernet Sauvigon, 16% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petite Verdot. Red-purple in color, and with well formed legs; dry, medium-full-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity; medium-plus phenolics. Lovely-pure-focused-integrated-complete. Fruit, dry floral, and pencil shavings bouquet. Secondary flavors have emerged. WOW. Beautiful wine. BearScore: 98+.

Les FORTS de LATOUR, Pauillac, 2009 ($243.19)
65% Cabernet Sauvigon, 32.5% Merlot, 0.5% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petite Verdot.   Red-purple in color with well formed legs; dry, medium full-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics. Elegant, supple, developing. Deep red and darker red fruit with tobacco and spice, gravel, and dust. Still youthfull but opening up and more than drinking as a big steakhouse red. BearScore: 95+.lesforts2009

I’ve been visiting Ch. Latour every year for 20 years now and the changes there have been staggering. My first visit showed wines that were consistently in the top 4 or 5 for any given vintage in Bordeaux. No surprise there; this is on of the five first growths of the classification of 1855. While all the great properties have upped their games since the mid 1990s, none has spent more and focused more than Chateau Latour. The vineyards and the process are immaculate and the wines have continued to improve and stay in that top quality level. But the biggest changes may be in the storage and commerce of the wines. Ch. Latour has enlarged and deepened their cellars and has stopped selling new vintages in the premiers system on the Bordeaux place. Instead, they are holding the three wines in their own pristine cellars and selling them when they determine that the wines are ready. The most recent release is Ch. Latour (Grand Vin) 2000 and Les Forts de Latour 2009.

Some years ago, three of the so-called second wines of the first growths (Les Forts de Latour, Pavillon de Margaux, and Clarence de Haut Brion) have risen in quality to the point that each is now in the top five and sometimes in the top two or three wines from their respective appellations (Pauillac, Margaux, and Pessac Leognan). Les Forts is now performing at a level that exceeds most of the second classified growths. It is a top ten wine within the whole of the Haut Medoc (which includes Margaux, St. Julien, and St. Estephe as well as Pauillac). Current vintages (due to improved farming, tighter selection, and focused process) can give pre-1995 vintages of the grand vin a run for their money. I no longer think of Les Fort as a second wine; rather, it is (after the three first growth grand vins) one of the three or four best wines of Pauillac on a year-in-year-out basis.

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BLOGGING BORDEAUX: Day Two (3/30/16)

BLOGGING BORDEAUX: Day Two (3/30/16)

We started tasting 2015s today but like yesterday, it was the older, more developed wines that stole the show. It’s funny how things work out. Yesterday I gushed over Ch. Gruaud Larose 1995 and today we visited Gruaud. So now I am going to gush over the 2009 Sarget (the 2nd vin of Gruaud Larose) and the 2001 Ch. Gruaud Larose.

Why the sudden interest in Gruaud? Well, it’s not sudden at all. I first became an appreciator of Ch. Gruaud Larose in 1983 when I Got to taste from a magnum of 1962 which was then on the wine list at Tony’s. That 1962 dazzled me and I went back for more. In fact, I drank them out of that wine. And then I started looking at other vintages of Ch. Gruaud Larose.

Which brings me to the now. Over the last two years, I have used multiple vintages of Ch. Gruaud Larose (’08, ’09, ’10, ’11, and ’12) at some dinners and tastings and all have showed well, often against more expensive wines. So on to the two older vintage Gruaud wines I tasted today:

Sarget de GRUAUD LAROSE (2nd vin), St. Julien, 2009
54% Cabernet Sauvigon, 26% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc, and 7% Petite Verdot aged 18-months in all 3-year air-dried French oak barrels (30% new).   Red-purple in color, and with well formed legs; dry, medium full-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity; medium-plus phenolics. Delicious, dusty pencil shavings, dark red fruit. spice, tobacco leaf. All in a swirl. Integrating nicely but the pieces are still somewhat defined. BearScore: 92+.

Ch. GRUAUD LAROSE, St. Julien, 2001
A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvigon, 30% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petite Verdot aged 24-months in all 3-year air-dried French oak barrels (70% new).   Sensory: red-purple in color, and with well formed legs; dry, medium full-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity and medium phenolics. Pencil Shavings and dark red fruit; ripe and even exotic. Tobacco-spice and dusty gravel. Supple, Alive. Complete. BearScore: 95+.

BUT WAIT, THERE’s MORE!
Here are my notes on the current releases from Ch. Latour – which has withdrawn from the en premiere system. We tasted the 2015s to get a look at the new vintage (even though the wines won’t be offered for several years) and then tasted these three wines that Ch. Latour is currently offering:

PAUILLAC de LATOUR (3rd Vin de Ch. Latour), Pauillac, 2010
A blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvigon, 44.5% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Red-Purple with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics. Supple, juicy; the flavors are developing but the wine is still fresh. Lots of red and darker red fruit with gravel and tobacco and a bit of spice. YUM. BearScore: 92+.

Les FORTS de LATOUR (2nd Vin de Ch. Latour), Pauillac, 2009
65% Cabernet Sauvigon, 32.5% Merlot, 0.5% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petite Verdot.   Red-purple in color with well formed legs; dry, medium full-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity; medium-chewy phenolics. Elegant, supple, developing. Deep red and darker red fruit with tobacco and spice, gravel and dust. BearScore: 94+.

Ch. LATOUR, Pauillac, 2000
77% Cabernet Sauvigon, 16% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petite Verdot. Red-purple in color, and with well formed legs; dry, medium-full-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity; medium-plus phenolics. Lovely-pure-focused-integrated-complete. Fruit, dry floral, and pencil shavings bouquet. WOW. Beautiful wine. BearScore: 98.

No firm pricing on any of these as yet but Spec’s will be getting all of them. Something to look forward to.

I will start talking about the 2015s we’ve tasted at some point but with so little yet under our belts, it seems too soon to draw even the broadest of conclusions (even though some of the press is doing just that). Having said that: So far, So good.

TTFN!
(Ta Ta For now!)
More soon.

ChLatourTasting