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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.
Grand Vin de Château Latour – Château Latour
Located in the famous Medoc wine region, about 40 kilometers north-west of the city of Bordeaux, the vineyard of Château Latour belongs to the Pauillac appellation.The quality of its wine depends partly on the type of grape variety that is being used, but also on the exceptional combination of natural elements (geography, geology and climate) that constitutes its "Terroir".
It would appear that the domaine of Latour remained under joint ownership until the end of the sixteenth century, the co-proprietors receiving rent from their tenants who cultivated the land. By the end of the sixteenth century the proprietors had been reduced to a family called Mullet and if direct control was progressively replacing that of tenants and co-proprietors, the system of viticulture was to remain virtually the same until the end of the seventeenth century.
At the end of the 17th century, after a succesion of sales, inheritances and marriages, the Latour estate became the property of the Ségur family. It is in 1718 with the Marquis Nicolas-Alexandre de Ségur, that the Great History of the vineyard starts. Thanks to the marriage of Alexandre de Ségur with Marie-Thérèse de Clausel, "the Tower of Saint-Maubert" entered the Segur family and remained in their hands there for almost 300 years. Just before his death in 1716, Alexandre de Ségur bought Lafite.
Two years later, his son, Nicolas-Alexandre, (called "the Prince of Vines") increased the family holding with the acquisition of Mouton (Rothschild) and Calon (Ségur). Only the Margaux estate remained in the hands of the Aulède family.
But in 1755, the death of the Marquis Nicolas-Alexandre created substantial changes in the destiny of Latour : before his death, Lafite was given the most attention among his numerous estates. With the division of the Marquis' personal property, Latour finally received the necessary care and investment it required, and started to develop its full potential during the second half of that century.
At the beginning of the 18th century, Château Latour started to be highly recognized around the world, thanks to the reconquest of the British market and the development of the wine business in northern Europe. The aristocracy and other wealthy groups of consumers became very enthusiastic about a few great estates, of which Latour was one. And that was how Thomas Jefferson, Ambassador of the United States in France, and future President, discovered this wine in 1787. At that time, a cask of Château Latour was already worth twenty times as much as one of ordinary Bordeaux wine.
The reputation of Château Latour was consolidated during the 19th century. It was confirmed in 1855, when the government of Napoléon III decided to classify the estates of the Médoc and the Graves for the International Exhibition in Paris : Château Latour was classified as First Growth.
In 1963, the heirs of the Marquis de Ségur sold 75 % of the Château Latour shares. The new shareholders became "Harveys of Bristol" and "Hallminster Limited", both British Limited Companies. "Hallminster Limited" belonged to the PEARSON Group, and held more than 50 % of the shares of Château Latour. However the juridical structure was not changed : it kept the 120 year-old name of "Société Civile du Vignoble de Château Latour".
In July 1993, entrepreneur and businessman, Mr PINAULT finally brought Château Latour back into French hands after 30 years of British ownership.
Today the Estate consists of 78 hectares of vineyards. 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.
Soil: top layer of gravels, sub-layers of marls and clays
Production area: 47 ha
Grape varieties: 75 % cabernet sauvignon ; 20 % merlot ; 4 % cabernet franc ; 1 % petit verdot.
Average age of vines: very old, some of them more than a hundred years
Harvest method: hand picked
Ageing: In new barrels, for 18 months
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Bordeaux Vintage Report 1994 / After a mild winter, spring brought heavy rain and frost which significantly damaged the vineyards. After a stormy start to the summer, the weather calmed down and changed very favorably for the latter part of the vintage. The harvest took place in good conditions and the vintage ended moderately to even good. The wines are perfectly pleasant today.