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+.
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.