Grand Cru Tour at Maison Louis Latour
By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com
18 May 2016
Perhaps the most memorable dish was the first: ravioli, langoustines and crab meat set in a delectable emulsion de crustacés. Magnificently paired with Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2000 – from a jéroboam bottle. The wine was full bodied yet vibrant and simply delicious.
Then came the Suprême de Volaille, with morilles and organic risotto and green asparagus. This also paired with another jéroboam: Louis Latour Château Corton-Grancey Grand Cru 1999, a most welcoming red vintage that was velvety smooth yet substantial.
The rich cheese plate from superb Beaune based Hess Cheese was nicely paired with richer vintage in Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2009.
We also enjoyed an amazing poached pear with spicy pain d’epices and honey with the ripe red vintage 2009 Corton Corton Grand Cru “ Clos du Roi”.
Why such a splendid occasion?
First off, it is Burgundy, so why not?
More specifically, the dinner capped a wonderful day of tastings for a special master class with a great gathering of #winelovers, from international wine consultant Eric Riewer (also at Gault & Millau) and internationally acclaimed critic Bernard Burtschy, to innovative blogger Nina Izzo and Master of Wine Robin Kick.
The master class focused on the grands cru terroirs of Maison Louis Latour, founded in 1797 and now including the largest collection of grand cru vineyards in Burgundy, about 27 hectares. A négociant-éleveur with soul, the house is still independent and managed by the founding family.
We met at the 18th century Château Corton-Grancey, to celebrate its historic renovation, the largest ever executed there. From 2013 to 2015, architect and Latour family member Dominique Belgrand worked closely with technical director Christophe Deola to refurbish the estate: its history preserved, but with modern equipment discretely added. From better air conditioning and zippy Internet access, to high quality video and sound systems in a new seminar room, where we met, overlooking the gorgeous grand cru Corton vineyards.
Maison Louis Latour is one of the most well known producers in Burgundy. The master class – Masterclass Corton V10 – INAUGURATION PRESSE EN – helped us to better understand the terroirs of Corton. Rich in detailed information and illustrations, from the red and white grape zones to the cool, warm and intermediate zones, by way of subtle soil changes for each of the grand cru vineyards. For example, Corton Clos du Roi is on a southeast facing, five-degree slope at an elevation of 290 meters, with clay-limestone silt over a thick limestone layer. All this is very special because Corton counts among the many climates that were last year inscribed as a UNESCO world heritage. Yet another reason for higher prices… But I digress. The varied topography, different orientations and expositions result in climactic diversity on the Corton hill. Combined with the diversity of soils, this allows Corton to be the the only grand cru in both white and red.
Louis Latour had acquired Château Corton Grancey in 1891. Of the 33 hectares of vines, which were owned by the family Grancey in Aloxe-Corton, 15 hectares are Corton Grand Cru. It was the 7th generation of Latour that planted Chardonnay at the top of the hill, instead of the Aligoté that had been ravaged by phylloxera. The “Cross of Charlemagne” that still today overlooks vines from Maison Louis Latour, was installed on Corton’s hill in 1943.
Louis-Fabrice Latour, the “seventh Louis” and the 11th generation now leading the company was a familiar face for me, as he often takes part in annual press conferences at the Hospices de Beaune and for harvest reports. He was a most gracious host, and his love for Burgundy visceral and contagious. And that was very easy to understand, as we sampled so many grands crus, from the recent 2014 vintage to older wines, from larger formats, over a fabulous dinner. Just before dinner, we visited the estate’s cavernous, dark and moldy cellars, a kind of Bat Cave with romance, holding some 200,000 bottles reaching back over a century in age.
As usual, wines in bold, I liked in particular. When red and bold, even more. And if underlined, too, a kind of wine nirvana!
Lovely vertical of Corton-Charlemagne
- 2014 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
Complex aromas and flavors include white flower, ripe and juicy white pear, wet and flinty stone and touches of grilled almond. The palate is juicy and full bodied, with energy as well as opulence (14% alcohol). Very long, yet delicate finish. 2014 is shaping to be a simply gorgeous white wine vintage in Burgundy and this is yet more proof. I tasted this once again as part of a 2014 horizontal just before dinner, with similar impressions: after the Montrachets this wine seemed just a bit more fresh and bright, with a fabulous balance of weight and acidity, dry extract, lovely notes of white stone fruit. This confirmed the positive experience at the master class. I’m a buyer. (93 pts.)
- 2012 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
Of this four vintage flight (2014, 2012, 2010 and 2008), this showed perhaps the weakest. It is very good, mind you, but showing more evident yellow stone rather than white stone fruit. The texture is somewhat more viscous and rich, with a touch of warmth on the finish, perhaps lacking the balancing acidity of the 2014, tasted just before. Still, left alone, a fine wine to enjoy with grilled fish or perhaps lobster with butter and lemon. (90 pts.)
- 2010 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
This showed very well, echoing the 2014 tasted earlier in this flight, with white flower and wet stone and pear like juiciness, but perhaps a bit more weight, a bit more dry extract, hence just slightly higher scoring. It has quite a bit of opulence, certainly full bodied, but happily balanced by excellent acidity, and giving off an aspect of delicacy in its impressively long finish. Great vintage! (94 pts.)
- 2008 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
Here we go again, with wonderful aromatics and flavors, here more white juicy peach and wet stone aspects, the palate rich and substantial, hints of oak still linger at nearly 8 years of age, but the overall impression is of a more tightly wound up wine, and even a bit steely as compared to either 2014 and especially 2010. Give it time, methinks this will get really good with a few more years. (93 pts.)
This next flight showed just how fine 2012 can be for red Burgundy
- 2012 Louis Latour Corton-Clos de la Vigne au Saint – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton Grand Cru
First of four 2012s from the Louis Latour master class. Aromas include bright red cherry and light toasted notes, the palate at once elegant and substantial, with the plum and cherry fruit complemented by touches of licorice, roasted espresso and spice cake notes. A lovely wine, with a long finish! (92 pts.)
- 2012 Louis Latour Corton-Clos du Roi – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton Grand Cru
This second out of four in this 2012 series has a more full bodied palate than the Clos de la Vigne, with a more “roasted fruit” aspect, plus cassis and dark cherry notes, and a touch of cinnamon. The tannins are ripe and soft, yet there is a hint of heat on the long finish. (92 pts.)
- 2012 Louis Latour Corton-Perrières – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton Grand Cru
Of the four 2012s, perhaps the most structured. The nose is not as exuberant as the others and the palate seems almost Bordeaux like tannic, somewhat closed. Time in glass coaxes dark cherry and plum aromas and flavors, with some oak derived spices. The tannins though present are silky. Give this time in your cellar! (92 pts.)
- 2012 Louis Latour Corton-Grancey – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton Grand Cru
Out of the four 2012s, this stood out best, with more immediately pleasing flavors and aromas – but also loads of complexity and delicacy. Words like “clean” and “polished” and “refined” came to mind, its full bodied expression of dark cherry fruit, cassis and touches of licorice leading to a long and cooler fruit driven finish, with more lift than the others. Great stuff! (94 pts.)
And 2010, also a great vintage
- 2010 Louis Latour Corton-Clos de la Vigne au Saint – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton Grand Cru
The first of a four 2010s was perhaps my least favorite, as it seemed a bit unexpressive on the nose, which is not what I was expecting from this great vintage. The palate is better, with cherry and some oak derived toast coming through. There is much tannic structure as well as fruit, with a medium finish. (89 pts.)
- 2010 Louis Latour Corton-Clos du Roi – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton Grand Cru
Ah here we go, this was delicious. Lovely cherry, dark and red, with blackberry as well on the nose and opulent palate: savory and long. It has freshness, too, so its full bodied aspect ends with a long, lifting and bright finish. Yum! (93 pts.)
- 2010 Louis Latour Corton-Perrières – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton Grand Cru
As we saw with the 2012, this shows much structure, even a bit “muscular” with a sense of having the most tannin. The fruit is vivid and intense, like cherry skins and cherry pit, showing much substance on the palate. There is an overall poised feel to this wine, that is not quite ready for current consumption. I can sense that it will get really good with another five to 10 years in the cellar. (92 pts.)
- 2010 Louis Latour Corton-Grancey – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton Grand Cru
The aromas include cassis and white flower, very refined and fresh, and lead to a somewhat tannic attack, with much substance on the palate. Although I think the 2012 seems to have more dry extract, hence a lower score. But I could easily drink this with a choice prime rib of beef.(92 pts.)
Assessing more grand cru whites from 2014
- 2014 Louis Latour Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru En Caradeux – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru
The first of several 2014s just before dinner. A fine way to start with this fresh and brisk white, that includes richness on the palate. White stone fruit as well as vanilla on this youthful palate leading to a fresh finish. (90 pts.)
- 2014 Louis Latour Bâtard-Montrachet – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru
More evidently rich and concentrated than the other 2014 whites. Yes, one does get vivid toasted brioche and even almond paste aromas and the palate is layered and rich, with more yellow than white stone fruits with touches of oak-derived spice. It is quite weighty, with a powerful aspect and a feeling of copiousness, richness and length. Some were a bit critical of its alcohol, lending potential flabbiness, but I reveled in this wine. (93 pts.)
- 2014 Louis Latour Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru
“A generous Chevalier,” as one taster put it. But I loved it! It was better for my palate than the all impressive and opulent Batard, because it had more lift and freshness, more white than yellow stone fruit. Indeed, the floral bouquet elements were more evident on the nose. Of course, the palate was ample but nicely balanced. Delicate yet very long finish. Wow! (95 pts.)
And grand cru reds from 2014
- 2014 Louis Latour Corton-Perrières – France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton Grand Cru
Lovely wine, quite a bit of cool fruit, blueberry, as well as cherry, but much substance and weight to the palate. From memory, I really liked this! (92 pts.)
- 2014 Louis Latour Chambertin Cuvée Héritiers Latour – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambertin Grand Cru
Gorgeous depth and judicious extraction of tannin, I immediately fell in love with this wine. Dark ripe cherry and licorice, with some spice, oak driven notes. The palate is powerful, full bodied, great depth, with evident tannin, but ripe and polished leading to a very long finish. Excellent! (94 pts.)
- 2014 Louis Latour Romanée St. Vivant Les Quatre Journaux – France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Romanée St. Vivant Grand Cru
This was just amazing for its opulence and freshness, a wine that has weight as well as utter refinement. Ripe red and dark fruits abound, black cherry and cassis, with some floral and touches of pepper on the juicy full bodied palate, that has a silky texture. Yes, there was some oak derivation but quite well integrated and a very long finish. Greatness. (96 pts.)