x
  • Country ranking ?

    227
  • Producer ranking ?

    15
  • Decanting time

    2h
  • When to drink

    now to 2035
  • Food Pairing

    Lamb Loin with Carrot Risotto

The Tb points given to this wine are the world’s most valid and most up-to-date evaluation of the quality of the wine. Tastingbook points are formed by the Tastingbook algorithm which takes into account the wine ratings of the world's best-known professional wine critics, wine ratings by thousands of tastingbook’s professionals and users, the generally recognised vintage quality and reputation of the vineyard and winery. Wine needs at least five professional ratings to get the Tb score. Tastingbook.com is the world's largest wine information service which is an unbiased, non-commercial and free for everyone.

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Each year, Wine Spectator editors survey the wines reviewed over the previous 12 months and select our Top 100, based on quality, value, availability and excitement. This annual list honors successful wineries, regions and vintages around the world.

Château Latour 1990 was the Wine of the Year in 1993

Like a Michelangelo; everything is in perfect proportion. Has an amazing amount of violets, new wood and fruit on the nose and palate and a superb concentration of silky tannins. The wine of the vintage, and the best from this estate since the legendary 1961. Best after 2000. —JS  100 points

 

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The Story

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.

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Wine Information

A particularly warm winter resulted in a very early budbreak, on 1 March for the Merlot. A variable spring slightly delayed this advance, but mid-flowering was recorded on 25 May, 15 days ahead of normal. Early July, the vineyard's crop was rigorously checked with the traditional "green harvests". The whole summer was very dry, which severely affected the vines. Due to the underground layers of clay in the "Enclos", the grapes were able to ripen in perfect conditions. The harvests were very spread out, from 10 September to 2 October, in order to get the best out of all the plots. Some rain on 22 and 23 September enabled the Cabernet Sauvignon to finish ripening.

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Vintage 1990

An early, even flowering, a warm but unspectacular summer and an exceptionally hot period during the end of August and the first half of September. It was this heat that made it possible for the record harvest to not only to fully ripen, but also to concentrate the fruit.  The harvest started on September 14 and was finished before heavy rains commenced on October 2. Another reason for the success of the vintage was that most châteaux had invested in their cellars and were able to work such a large and hot harvest. It was now possible to control the fermentation temperatures better than in earlier hot vintages, such as 1947. The grapes produced wines with such high natural alcohol that chaptalization became unnecessary. They showed deep colour, high and unusually soft tannin levels and a better acidity than first thought, as well as great fruit concentration. The media hype was great, particularly thanks to the advent of new wine magazines - this was the vintage that cemented Robert Parker’s reputation. The prices rose rapidly and have not looked back since. I remember all Premier Crus (including Pétrus) being offered to end consumers for around 50 euros en-primeur in 1983.

The scene when the 1990 vintage came along was quite different. There was a surplus of very good to great wine on the market – for the first time there was talk of three great vintages following one another. This lead to most châteaux lowering their prices by about 20 per cent compared to their 1989 prices, even though the quality was outstanding. There had been a steady increase in prices during the 1980s, but they were now more or less back to the opening prices of the 1982s. It was again a record harvest, but because most châteaux had by now introduced a ‘second wine’ and due to the fact they were more selective with regards to quality, there was actually less wine being bottled as ‘Grand Vin’ than in 1982.

We have been following both these vintages from a comparatively early age, as they were both precocious and easy to drink from the start. The top wines from both vintages are spectacular, but the overall quality is much higher in 1990. Here the wines were equally successful on both sides of the river, and even minor châteaux produced something special. We have always found most 1982s from the right bank to be too alcoholic and lacking in structure; indeed many are now ageing rapidly.

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Average Bottle Price

2022 2020 2018 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2005 2000 1995
911€ +11.8% 815€ +12.9% 722€ +3.4% 698€ +15.6% 604€ -13.6% 699€ +6.4% 657€ -6.3% 701€ -13.6% 811€ +15.5% 702€ +82.3% 385€ +58.4% 243€ +56.8% 155€

This data comes from the FINE Auction Index, a composite of average prices for wines sold at commercial auctions in 20 countries. The average prices from each year have been collected since 1990. This chart plots the index value of the average price of the wines.

Latest Pro-tasting notes

36 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Full

ending

Endless and Spicy

flavors

Blackberry, Cedar, Blackcurrant, Licorice, Cherry and Voluptuous

nose

Complex

recommend

Yes

taste

Low in Acidity, Warming, Low tannin, Complex, Balanced, Well-structured, Youthful, Full-bodied, Firm, Ripe and Elegant

Verdict

Outstanding and Excellent

Written Notes

The 1990 Latour and 1982 Margaux were two of my wines of the night. I have always loved the openness and sweet, giving personality of the ’90 Latour, which is atypically not brooding. This penguin left the glacier a long time ago, but the ’90 shows no sign of early advancement either. It is just one of those wines that has always been delicious, as long as I can remember. The Margaux has always been underrated and overlooked when it comes to 1982. This bottle reaffirmed its status amongst the elite wines of the vintage. The last major retrospective of 1982s that I did, which was in 2007 and blind with twenty other tasters, had Margaux emerge on top, for those of you that forgot or weren’t around then.

  • 97p

On the nose, redcurrants, licorice and tobacco dominate. It opens with an almost decadent flamboyance, compelling as it is. On the palate you get lush fruit, cassis, soil notes, herbs and some espresso. The tannins are still firm but very ripe, there is that exoticism, it is a massive wine, evidently so at the mid palate, with sound acids laced through the unusual sweetness (for Latour). It finishes with power -- emphatic, penetrating, more black fruit, spicy richness and some kirsch. It lacks though Latour’s more nuanced appeal, though with the Pigeon and Foie Pithivier, it rose gallantly to the pairing challenge with charisma as it showcased Cabernet’s potential for concentrated intensity. 95 Points

  • 95p

Tasted in May 2013. This wine showed perfectly ripe fruit, truffles, incredibly concentrated, very strong structure, sophisticated, extremely long on the palate. Riveting elegance and finesse.

  • 96p
Ruby. Cassis, leather, tobacco, intense and tight nose. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, intense, detailed, rich, fruity, layered, nuanced, superb balance, very long. 97
  • 97p
8 Great Bordeaux 1.Flight Latour 1990 MG vs Lynch Bages 1989 MG 2 Flight La Mission Haut Brion 1989 vs Haut Brion 1989 3.Flight Mouton 1982 vs Latour 1982 MG 4 Flight Mouton 1986 vs Lafite 1986 Opened yesterday, Still a lot of Cassis, forest strawberries, ripe blueberries, great acidity structure, feels still very young, but a hint riper than the Lynch Bages, not so powerful than get used from Latour, a not totally perfect balanced giant
  • 98p
Starting to develop a brown aged rim, open earthy, full tobacco and cedar wood cigar box aromas mixed with leather and dark dried fruits, plums, damsons and cherries, minerally and lean acidity, full palate – still young, but with elegant and silky tannins, great balance, will last 30+ years.
  • 96p
Intense, ruby colour.rich, chocolatey nose with mocha. Medium-bodied, energetic and firm palate, supple tannins and upfronted black fruit. Powerful. Decant for 5 hours. Ready to open 2020, but will reach its peak in 2030-2040.
  • 93p
Château Latour 1990 Open and maturing nose with dark cherry and cassis fruit, mushrooms, truffle, gravel dust, leather, raw meat and a perfumed rose like floral note around hints of herbs and mint. Full bodied and very powerful palate with a sweet core of dark cherry and cassis fruit, mint, leather, vanilla and mushrooms. Silky sweet tannins. Superbly balanced albeit in a big style. Very long but still far to young. Drink 2018-2040 95p
  • 95p
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Information

Origin

Pauillac, Bordeaux

Vintage Quality

Outstanding

Value For Money

Very good

Investment potential

Good

Fake factory

None

Glass time

2h

Drinking temperature

16

Inside Information

Château Latour’s long and noble history is summarized graphically on every bottle. The label shows the domaine’s famous tower, a symbol of the château's importance to regional politics and defense as early as the 14th century. And as one of the original four First Growth Bordeaux, the estate has become even more significant in the last 200 years as the producer of one of the world’s most legendary wines. Robert M. Parker Jr. has noted that the wine produced at Château Latour “has been an impeccable model of consistent excellence in great, mediocre and poor vintages.” After passing to British ownership from 1963 to 1993, the château was purchased in 1993 by Francois Pinault, one of France’s most successful businessmen and entrepreneurs. Vineyards total 163 acres, with 75% planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% to Cabernet Franc, 20% to Merlot, and 1% Petit Verdot. The average age of the vines is 60 years. The chateau produces 180,000 bottles of Château Latour annually.

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