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  • Country ranking ?

    1 655
  • Producer ranking ?

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  • Decanting time

    6h
  • When to drink

    from 2025
  • Food Pairing

    Pork Tenderloin

Parker 94 + points / A grand vin, the 2012 Latour (90.2% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9.8% Merlot) probably won’t be released to the market for another 7-8 years. Representing only 36% of the crop, it has an opaque ruby/purple color, a beautiful nose of crushed rock and blueberry and blackcurrant fruit, sweet tannin and a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel. The striking purity and intellectually satisfying texture and finish all are indicative of this great first-growth that has overcome all of the challenges of 2012 in the Médoc. It finishes long, rich and convincing. Of course, this isn’t in the league with the great vintages of 2000, 2003, 2005, 2009 and 2010, but it has nothing to be ashamed of. This wine should drink well for 25-30 years, and will probably prove to be one of the longest-lived of the 2012 Médocs.

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The Story

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.

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Vintage 2012

The 2012 Bordeaux vintage report.

The 2012 Bordeaux vintage is a year for vineyard management and workers. Call it a wine makers vintage, or change your tune and name it vineyard managers vintage. Either descriptor works perfectly. The estates with the financial ability to take the necessary actions in the vineyards during the season, coupled with the willingness to severely declassify unripe grapes will produce the best wines. Even then, it’s going to be a difficult vintage with small quantities of wine. From start to finish, the growing season and 2012 Bordeaux harvest have been stressful for the vintners, the vines and with the grapes now in the process of being vinified, the winemakers. The 2012 Bordeaux vintage did not get off to a good start.

Following a cold winter and wet spring, the April rains drenched the Bordeaux wine region. Following the April rains, there were outbreaks of mildew, which required spraying. May was warmer than April. Things cooled down a bit again in June. All this brought on flowering that was late and uneven. That resulted in small bunches with berries that ripened at different times, which brought down the quantities and necessitated in serious work in the vineyards and intensive sorting at harvest. If everything that took place until the end of June didn't offer what happened next offered additional challenges with 2012 Bordeaux vintage.

After an average July, Bordeaux experienced a torrid heat spell and drought in August and September that stressed the vines, especially the young vines. At one point, temperatures soared to 42 degrees Celsius, which is 107 degrees! Other days crossed 100 degrees. It was extremely hot and dry. The vines shut down and the vintage was on track to be even later than originally anticipated. Close to the end of September, things improved due to the much hoped for combination of warm days, cool nights and some desperately needed rain, which helped nourish the vines.

The initial days of October offered reasonably warm temperatures during the day, coupled with cooler weather at night for vintners with Merlot ready to pick. In the Medoc, it was hurry up and wait. Tom Petty could have been blasting with “Waiting is The Hardest Part,” because growers needed to wait as the Cabernet Sauvignon was having difficulties ripening. This was already October. The conventional wisdom says, at some point, there was little to be gained by waiting and more to lose, so the 2012 Bordeaux harvest started taking place. Some estates began picking young Merlot in late September, but most held back until about October 1, with a few growers waiting another week or longer. Most producers brought all their fruit in by the middle of October.

Pomerol is usually the first appellation to harvest, due to their Merlot dominated vines. Interestingly, picking was taking place simultaneously in the Left Bank on October 1. Numerous Pessac Leognan properties began their harvest before Pomerol. Chateau Haut Brion began working on their young Merlot vines September 17 and Chateau Haut Bailly was not far behind, with a September 27 start date. Most chateaux were in the thick of things by October 4, although Domaine de Chevalier held off until October 8. While pleasant, cooler weather was initially forecast to continue, by October 8, things changed quickly when massive amounts of rain dropped over the entire Bordeaux region. With accompanying temperatures in the mid to upper 60’s and higher in some areas, vintners were concerned about the potential of Botrytis, due to the humid, tropical conditions.

At that point, the fruit needed to be picked, regardless of the state of maturity. Similar to what took place last year with the 2011 Bordeaux vintage, ripening was uneven. It was not just bunches that were not ripening, individual grapes in bunches achieved varying degrees of ripeness which made sorting more important than ever. Optical sorting was more widely used than ever with the 2012 Bordeaux harvest. 2012 Bordeaux could be a year where the dry, white Bordeaux wines shine. The berries were picked in September, under optimum conditions. Most producers were done harvesting the white wine grapes by September 25. The same cannot be said for the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac. This has been a difficult year for the development of Botrytis, due in part to the cold nights. With November closing in, most of the top estates were still nervously waiting to harvest.

All this adds up to low yields for most producers. In fact, the French minister of agriculture reported that 2012 would produce the lowest yields since 1991. It’s interesting to remember previous years like 1991, a vintage that forced some properties to declassify their entire harvest. With today’s modern technology and vineyard management techniques, vintages like 1991 which produced atrocious wine are a thing of the past. Bordeaux is not the only European wine region to suffer in 2012.

Across the board, numerous European vineyards experienced difficult conditions. It was announced that across the board, production of European wines were at their lowest levels since 1975. Generally speaking, low yields are usually a good thing. Low yields produce more concentrated wines. But when low yields are coupled with grapes that did not achieve full, phenolic ripeness, at the end of the day, the only thing vintners are primarily left with is less wine. If the small quantities of wine available to sell are used as an excuse by owners as a reason to raise prices, grapes are not the only thing that will be in short supply. Customers for their wines will be in an even shorter supply than the wines. 2011 Bordeaux has not sold well to consumers.

 

Prices for 2012 Bordeaux wine need to be lower in price than the previous year. This is healthy for the marketplace in the long run. Ample stocks of good wines from top years are still available for sale. Consumers can easily find strong Bordeaux wine from 2010, 2009 and even 2005. There are different vintages for different markets. Some wine buyers prefer more classic or lighter years. Other wine collectors seek riper, bolder years. The marketplace welcomes both types of wines and consumers. But each vintage and style needs to be appropriately priced. Bordeaux should reduce prices on vintages like 2012 and 2011. In turn, there are wine buyers willing to pay more for the best years. Reports from producers on the 2012 Bordeaux harvest have ranged. For the red wines, some were quoted as saying the pulp is ripe, the seeds varied in ripeness, but the skins did not ripen. In the Left Bank, there are estates that feel their Merlot turned out better than their Cabernet. In the Right Bank, producers in Pomerol and St. Emilion are optimistic about the quality of their 2012 Bordeaux wines.

The early reports show lower alcohol levels for the wines than more recent, highly rated, expensive vintages. 2012 Bordeaux wine has the potential to be classic in style, which should please thirsty fans of traditional Bordeaux wine. While quantities are small, in many cases, it’s not much different than what the chateaux were able to produce in 2011. Many vintners are comparing the 2012 Bordeaux vintage a blend of 2002 and 2008. With the April tastings rapidly approaching, all of us will have a much better idea about the quality, style and character of the 2012 Bordeaux vintage. Let's just hope they get the price right.

Tb.

 

 

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

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Tasting note

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Written Notes

Latour turned out with quite feminin wine with silky fruit and tannin, splendid length, depth and balance. More finesse than power here.

  • 94p
Deepish ruby. Dense, coffee, cassis, deep, layered and complex, a bit tight nose. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, quite refined, fruity, refreshing, textured but velvety behind, long length. 93-95
  • 93p

Information

Origin

Pauillac, Bordeaux

Grapes

10% Merlot
90% Cabernet Sauvignon

Vintage Quality

Above Average

Value For Money

Poor

Investment potential

Average

Fake factory

None

Glass time

2h

Inside Information

Reminiscent of the 2008, the 2012 is a classic Latour, but is neither profoundly concentrated nor potentially one of the greatest efforts from this exceptional terroir. While noble, racy, stylish and medium-bodied, the normal power and density one expects of Latour is missing in this vintage. It is made in a more elegant, softer, lighter style, undoubtedly a smart decision since pushing extraction with potentially less than ideal grapes could have resulted in rustic aromas and flavors. This medium-bodied Latour reveals moderate tannin, but it should be drinkable when released, and last for nearly two decades. 

Chateau Latour harvested its Merlot between September 24 and October 4, and most of the crop ended up in Les Forts de Latour and Pauillac. The Cabernet Sauvignon was picked between October 5 and 16, the Cabernet Franc on October 8 (obviously a wet harvest), and the Petit Verdot on October 12. The 2012 Latour, which is off the market as a wine future until the Pinault family and Frederic Engerer agree on when to release it (probably 7-8 years from now), is a blend of 90.2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.6% Merlot and the rest a tiny dollop of Petit Verdot. Only 36% of the crop was utilized in the grand vin, which achieved 12.8% natural alcohol.

 

Wine Advocate #206
Apr 2013
Robert M. Parker, Jr. (92-94) Drink: N/A
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94p
 Izak Litwar / The most important Scandinavian Bordeaux Critic, Pro (Denmark)  tasted  Château Latour 2012  ( Château Latour )

Latour turned out with quite feminin wine with silky fruit and tannin, splendid length, depth and balance. More finesse than power here.

7m 20d ago

93p
 Christer Byklum / Leading Scandinavian wine blogger, Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  Château Latour 2012  ( Château Latour )

" Deepish ruby. Dense, coffee, cassis, deep, layered and complex, a bit tight nose. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, quite refined, fruity, refreshing, textured but velvety behind, long length. 93-95"

1y 6m ago

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