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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
After a generally mild and wet winter with a few cold spells, growth started on 4 April. The weather was mediocre, cold and rainy, as was May. There was even a night frost on the 20th. This inclement weather continued until 7 June. During flowering, from 7 to 15 June, the weather was fine, but bad weather set in again from the 16th to 25th and it was very cold for the time of year. Flowering was affected and did not finish until about 5 July. During a fine, hot July, there was some falling of grapes due to the previous month's weather. August was quite cool and it rained in September until the 22nd. In these circumstances, rot was observed as early as 8 September. Fortunately, temperatures were low and the rot spread slowly. Conditions improved from the 23rd, and by the end of the month we had fine weather with a steady east wind to dry out the rot. Vintage from 29 September to 15 October.
The musts were moderately rich with high acidity. Color, on the other hand, appeared good. Naturally, after the 1968 vintage, there were hopes for a wine of better quality, but it lacked richness and length.
Vintage quality and tasting comments
The 1969 was quite austere when young but developed rapidly. Today (2000) it is clearly showing signs of this fast ageing process. It develops a pepper nose, a little raw (typical from the non-riped Cabernet Sauvignon) , and in the mouth it is showing an interesting structure and concentration, but remains tannic and a little acidic.
Quality: Mediocre year
The moment for optimal drinking and best way of serving
The wine has already declined and is more to be drunk as a "curiosity".
Keep the bottle 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 these sediments and serve.