First growth Château Latour have released its 2003 grand vin and the 2008 vintage of its second wine, Les Forts de Latour
Since quitting the en primeur system in 2012 following the campaign for the 2011 vintage, Latour has instead restricted itself to an annual re-release of recent vintages around 20 March, ahead of the futures campaign and another small release of older vintages in September.
The first set of releases in 2013 of the 1995 grand vin and 2005 Forts were released with respective premiums of 19% and 10% on the market price.Merchants and buyers were left unimpressed however and the trade called the price “too high”.
Similarly, when the 2004 grand vin and 2006 Forts were released last year with respective premiums of 23% and 6% on the market price, the news was greeted with “deathly silence”.
Then, in September last year, Latour re-released its 1996, 2001 and 2002 vintages. The wines still carried a premium but it was significantly less than anything seen before and was in line with the release of Forts 2007 in September 2013.
Unfortunately for Latour, the wines emerged as many merchants were pushing their 2011 allocations of Solaia and Masseto and so the wines and opportunity were somewhat lost.
With the market showing some improvement, despite a 0.4% decline on the Liv-ex Fine Wine 100 in February and Bordeaux returning to favour, there may be some interest in two vintages that are ready for drinking, especially the 2003s.
Interestingly, Latour’s 2005 topped the Fine Wine 100 in February, rising 10.9% to £6,792 a case although this is probably more to do with the current popularity of the 2005 vintage at the moment.
Also rising in February were the 2005 vintages of Palmer and Cos d’Estournel. The wine world is waiting for Robert Parker’s 10 year retrospective of the vintage and many are expecting a hike in scores – and prices – as a result. With the 05 Latour currently sitting on 96-points, a wine of its pedigree could easily see a revision elevate it to 98-points.
Interestingly, Latour, Mouton and Lafite are all sitting on 96 Parker points as of 1 March 2008 (Wine Advocate #176), while Haut-Brion and Margaux are rated 98 and are cheaper than Lafite and Latour though not Mouton which is the least costly per case of all the 2005 wines from the five first growths.
But, to return to Latour’s re-releases, as the drinks business reported at the time of the last September release: “Latour’s experiment may be proving tougher than expected for the estate and the latest release  may be a sign it knows buyers will not be swayed by its first growth aura.
“It will not be until previously unreleased vintages – 2012 and onwards – begin to emerge that asking for a premium will start to hold any water.”
2015 by Rupert Millar
One of the three greatest young Bordeaux I have ever tasted
Chateau Latour’s 2003 is one of the candidates for “wine of the vintage” (Latour’s 2002 is the wine of the vintage in my opinion). This great estate has produced a freakishly rich, concentrated Pauillac revealing no evidence of over-ripeness or too much weight. A blend of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, and 1% Petit Verdot, only 53% of the production made it into the 2003 Latour, which tips the scales at 13% alcohol. Manager Frederic Engerer told me that 6% press wine was added to the final blend. The Merlot harvest occurred between September 8 - 13, and the Cabernet Sauvignon between September 22 - 30. This remarkable effort boasts a black/purple color in addition to an extraordinary bouquet of creme de cassis, blackberries, and subtle sweet oak in the background. A massive, multilayered texture inundates the palate with a seamless wealth of glycerin, extract, and richness. Tasters must search especially hard to find the structure and tannin. In that sense, the 2003 is reminiscent of how the 1982 performed at the same age. Tasted next to the undeniably great 2000 Latour, the 2003 came across as almost twice as concentrated, with a fruit presence that had to be tasted to be believed. In fact, I do not believe I have ever tasted a Latour like this. I wonder how the 1961 would have tasted at a similar period? Extraordinarily pure, with a finish that lasted over 70 seconds, this is a tour de force as well as a modern day legend in the making. Sadly, Latour’s small production means that only 10,000 cases will be produced. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2040?
Parker 100 points
The 47 hectares which surround the Château, the heart of the estate, are called "l'Enclos". Only the grapes from these 47 ha make the "Grand Vin de Château Latour". The vines in this vineyard are very old, some of them being centenarian. This "Enclos" benefits from a very unique terroir that combines an optimized sub-soil nutrition for the vines, the Gironde river which tempers extreme weather conditions, and a typical Médoc climate, largely influenced by the Atlantic ocean, which allows the grapes to reach maturation under favourable conditions.
The « veraison » at Château Latour (change of colour) started at the beginning of August. Temperatures peaking as high as 45 °C were mesured inside the vines truncksin the first 10 days of the month, preventing growth. The vine must have protected itself by closing all its « light receptors » to the attacks of the sun. Due to these extreme conditions, maturation slowed down and hence ripening was somewhat heterogeneous. As a result, the precocity that had been running since the flowering was reduced by the excessive climatic conditions of summer.
Fortunatly, it finally rained twice, at Château Latour, on the 19th and 31st of August, (approximatly 20 mm of rain) which enabled the vines to resume their growing cycle. From the beginning of September, the weight of the grapes and the polyphenols levels increased noticeably. In spite of all this, 2003 stands as one of the earliest vintage in the history of Château Latour, as we strarted harvesting the first merlots on September 8th. Ripeness is excellent for this grape variety with potential alcohol degrees between 13 and 14 ° and with mature and extractible polyphenols. The sanitary condition of the harvest at Château Latour is perfect, although their is less acidity than in the last few vintages harvested.
The Cabernet Sauvignon ripened somewhat later. However in the « Enclos », we can already see a clear improvement in the structure of the skins due to the discrepancy in temperature between day and night.The dryer terroir suffered more and ripened with delay.
Merlots grapes are in a perfect sanitary state, with a lovely colour and are picked in the best possible climatic conditions. The cabernet sauvignon has a deep dark color. The 2003 vintage at Château Latour is very promising.
Recommended glass shape
Average Bottle Price
|711€ +3.5%||687€ +8.4%||634€ -8.1%||690€ -37.2%||1 098€ +13.8%||965€|