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The chateau makes three different wines. The so-called grand vin, that is Château Latour itself, a second wine called Les Forts de Latour and a third wine simply called Pauillac. The grand vin comes from the original part of the vineyards, called the Enclos. This is the most prestigious part of the vineyard where the vines have a fine view of the Gironde estuary. The tradition in Bordeaux says that vines that overlook the water make the best wine. The proximity to the estuary actually gives a slightly higher temperature, helping the grapes to good maturity. The Enclos is around 45 hectares out of a total of 88 for the whole estate.
The grape varieties are 75 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 23 % Merlot, 1 % Cabernet Franc and 1 % of Petit Verdot. The planting density is high, 10,000 vines per hectare. Every year the chateau’s viticulturist replaces a certain number of dead vines. These young vines are marked and treated separately. They are harvested separately and they are not used in the grand vin until they are at least 10 years old.
The Enclos is under conversion to organic farming since 2015. It takes three years to be certified so it means that we will see the first organic Château Latour in 2018. Only copper and sulfur, mixed with different plant infusions, are used to fight diseases in the vineyard. Instead of insecticides they use sexual confusion. Only organic fertilizers are used when needed and no herbicides.
The barrel aging starts in December. Château Latour is put in 100 % new oak from the Allier and Nièvre forest in the central part of France. The chateau works with 11 different coopers. This is important to the winemaker as the coopers all have different styles.
The wine spends six months in the first year cellar where it will also undergo the malolactic fermentation. The barrels are tasted regularly and the winemaker decides the blend for the grand vin, the second wine and the third wine. He decides if the press wine should be included or not. The wine is then moved to the huge and magnificent second-year cellar where it will spend 10-13 months, so in total around 22 months of aging before it is bottled. 2014 was bottled in June this year. During the barrel aging the wine is racked and topped up regularly, every 3 months. At the end, the wine is fined traditionally with egg whites, 5-6 whites per barrel.
Château Latour is often a textbook example of a Cabernet Sauvignon. No wonder, as often almost 90 % of the wine is made from this grape. It is a powerful wine in its youth, with aromas of cedar wood and black fruit, made even more powerful with the aging in 100 % new oak barrels. It is packed with fruit and tannins and it stays young for at least 10 years. This is a wine you really should wait for, say 10-15 year or longer. It needs time to show what it is capable of.
The weather conditions
Very favorable weather and excellent growth all year. We might have produced some over-concentrated wines had it not been for some heavy rain during the harvest which diluted the juice and normalized fermentation. Harvesting started on 15 September. Already at the running-off stage we realized that the wines were very promising : lovely robe, some fatness and roundness.
Vintage quality and tasting comments
The wine is still very surprising, elegant bouquet with mint and dried fruits, ripe tannins, rich, without aggressiveness. Well balanced. (last tasted : 1999)
Quality: Good year
The moment for optimal drinking and best way of serving
The wine has passed its optimum, but will still be very enjoyable during the next 10 years.
When a bottle is opened, keep vertical at least half a day to settle the sediments at the bottom of the bottle. Then slowly pour the wine into a decanter in order to get rid of the sediments, keep in the decanter for 1/2 hour for aeration and serve.
Bordeaux by Tb: The recovery after the Second World War was slow and winegrowers had many challenges to overcome. Their production facilities were in poor condition and there was no capital for investments. However, thanks to several large harvests, the period from 1945 to 1961 produced some of the most heralded Bordeaux wines ever made. 1952 is on equal footing to finish on the list of the greatest vintages of the time, among 1945, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1953 and 1959.
In 1952, the season began with a moderately warm and dry spring. The summer months from June to the end of August were dry with an average daily temperature of 20.5C. The temperature climbed above 30°C in 29 days. Unfortunately, Mother Nature turned her back on producers at the very end of the season. The rain and the cold arrived on September 4 and for example in Pauillac, it rained for 22 days. The rain partially diluted the harvest and, due to the cold, the phenolic maturity of late-ripening varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon was left slightly short. Thus, the left bank, dominated by cabernet sauvignon, fared less well than the right bank, where early-ripening merlot dominates. On the other hand, the right bank avoided the worst rains of September and producers like Cheval Blanc with Cabernet Franc oriented wines, were able to harvest their harvest at the same time in mid-September in better conditions than their colleagues from the left Bank.
In our experience, the best wines of the vintage were Cheval Blanc, Pétrus, l’Eglise-Clinet and La Mission Haut-Brion. However, we have been amazed from time to time by the lesser known St-Emilions of this vintage. If we compare the prices versus the quality of these wines, we can conclude them as the great finds of 1950s Bordeaux that most still drink well if the bottles have been restored properly. To get the most out of these wines, be sure to decant them fifteen minutes before serving, as they do not handle air as well as the best vintages.