Wine Details for 1994 Latour
|Type of Wine||
: Picture in your mind a combination of cedar, lead pencil, blackcurrant, plum and mineral aromatics, and texture that caresses your palate like a playful lover. The experience is thrilling from the first whiff to the final seconds of a tannic, generous finish - that is what you'll get from a Bordeaux Red
Red Bordeaux Blend
: The inhabitants of the Bordeaux region of France have been cultivating wine-grapes for thousands of years. Ancient Roman ruins litter the vineyards from Saint Emilion to Graves where the art of blending Bordeaux varietals has been practiced and perfected over a very long history. Bordeaux’s climate, terroir and soils, though varied, provide the optimal growing conditions for the red grape varietals planted in the region.
Rarely listed on the labels as “blend,” the red wines of Bordeaux are perhaps the most artfully designed and celebrated in the world. The calculated art of blending the native Bordeaux varietals is impressively accomplished in the most famous winegrowing region in the world. The phrase Bordeaux Blend which seems to have been coined by British wine merchants in the 19th Century relates as much to wines made from the blend as to the grape variety combination itself.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and occasionally Carmenere are the lead characters in the creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. Each plays a part in their own fashion and implemented in various combinations and percentages in each appellation within Bordeaux. Red Bordeaux Blends are majorly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, roughly making up 90% of all Bordeaux Blends. Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec (occasionally Carmenere) are also important components and vital to the production of the region’s red wines.
For simplicity, the winegrowing region of Bordeaux can be divided into three main appellations producing Red Bordeaux Blends; the Left Bank (Medoc), Right Bank and Pessac-Leognan (Graves). The Left Bank has a terroir comprised of a wide variety of gravel, stones, sand, limestone and clay soils on a natural terrain of gentle slopes. This sets the stage perfectly for the production of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the dominant grape of the Left Bank. For example, Chateau Lafite (Paulliac) is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Right Bank is dominated by clay and limestone with sand and gravel, but the clay in the Right Bank is distinctly its own and adds to the health, growth and vitality of the vines of the varietals grown here. Right Bank wines are typically 80% Merlot-based, which are often denser, richer and mature earlier than those of the Left Bank (with exceptions – Petrus for example). Merlot is a vital component to Pomerol winegrowing and making. Cabernet Franc also plays a major role in the Right Bank, most notably, in Saint Emilion, where the infamous vineyards of Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval Blanc are planted to 55% and 52% Cabernet Franc, respectively. Chateaux that produce wines with a majority of Cabernet Franc are considered “old school” producers, but have perfected the use of Cabernet Franc, which was originally used as a blending grape.
Pessac-Leognan (Graves) enjoys a temperate climate, natural hygrometry influenced by the ocean, and has a terroir composed of gravelly soil over a clay subsoil on sloping, hilly terrain. Natural drainage due to the hilly terrain as well as the gravelly soil structure are perfectly attuned to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape vine, which prospers under these conditions. Pessac reaps the benefits of having the terroir of both the Left and Right Bank as it contains gravel and clay. The clay sub-soil allows the growth and success of Merlot, as well as Cabernet Franc. It is home to the only First Growth not in the Medoc. The 50-hectare vineyard of Haut Brion is planted to 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.
The percentage of Petit Verdot and Malbec may be lesser in quantity, but not in quality. They are vital to the region’s creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. The combination of Bordeaux varietals is legendary in the region, around the world and has influenced winegrowers worldwide to plant and vinify wines which resemble those of Red Bordeaux Blends.
: Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.
For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.
France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.
France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.
: Even among the greatest and most reputable wine regions on the planet, Bordeaux stands above the rest. The winemakers of this region have a single-minded dedication to the fine art of viticulture and their efforts never fail to show. If you consider yourself a fine wine enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to visit Bordeaux - life changing. Whether you wish to drink some inspirational and gripping wine as soon as possible, or you want to add some masterpieces to your collection, no region on Earth is a more obvious choice.
The noble and beautiful Garonne and Dordogne rivers surge through southwestern France, enriching the soil in a way very few other places can boast. The limestone-based earth is rich in calcium, and the almost oceanic climate conditions give the staple Bordeaux grape varietals vigor and flavor like nowhere else. For their illustrious reds, Bordeaux winemakers rely on a proven combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Meanwhile, a sip of their excellent white wine hints at the use of Semillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc.Each of these varietals carries a unique identity, making every quality wine a character piece to rival Citizen Kane. It can be incredibly hard to choose only a few wines to collect for your cellar!
: There is no greater benefit to winemaking than the special connection between land and grape. This natural, but magical symbiosis creates a truly magnificent wine that is a reflection of the environment in which it is cultivated. The First Growth property of Chateau Latour, and its prized Enclos vineyard, is said to possess the greatest terroir in all of Bordeaux. This incredible sense of place has placed Chateau Latour in its own unique class.
To understand the superior qualities of Latour wines, one must consider its superb location in Bordeaux. Latour is located in the heart of the Medoc wine region, in the appellation of Pauillac (home to 3 of the 5 First Growths). The chateau’s prime terroir, Enclos vineyard, overlooks the Gironde estuary; the river that has helped shape the region for centuries, giving the vineyard its geological complexity and on a daily basis, ensures a mild climate. The estate’s proximity to the a large mass of water gives its special character and tempers any extreme weather conditions, especially any possible cold spells early in the growth cycle and also enabling earlier ripening of the grapes, which is an important factor as the harvest approaches.
Chateau Latour’s vineyard is a magnificent mosaic of vines, some of which are a hundred years old, each contributing its share of magic to the wines every year. There are currently 92 hectares under vine, including the 47 that surround the chateau, known as Enclos. This beloved parcel is the chief source of the estate’s Grand Vin. The vineyard consists of a hilltop that rises 16 meters above the level of the Gironde, encircled to the north and south by two streams and to the east by the Palus (a marshland on the edge of the Gironde). In the heart of Enclos, the terroir is composed of large gravel stones, smaller gravel stones or pebbles and a very particular type of clay called “Argile Gonfiante”, which is incredibly dense. These tremendous gravely soils are perfectly suited for Cabernet Sauvignon and grants the wines an immense sense of place.
Most of the Merlot resides in the lower parcels of the Enclos section where the gravel layers are not as prominent, nor as deep. It is the depth of the gravels along with the rich clay that creates the uniqueness of Chateau Latour. In that section the marls and clay are more apparent in the soils. Small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot in the vines are more likely field blends as they are found inside the vines of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. On average the vines are 40 years of age, with some vines over 100 years of age.
The remaining vineyard space, outside of Enclos, consists of several handsome plots that have been acquired over the estate’s long history and is reserved for the second wine, Les Forts de Latour. The estate produces a third wine, Le Pauillac de Chateau Latour and is fashioned from grapes that were deemed not good enough to be placed in Les Forts de Latour.
In its entirety, the property is planted to 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Annual production ranges between 10,000 and 12,000 cases. The Grand Vin represents only 37% of total production, while the remaining production comes from Les Forts and the Le Pauillac. Considering the massive amount of demand, not much is made.
Of course, without human intervention, the magical combination of terroir and grapes would be fruitless. The knowledge and understanding of terroir and the cultivation of grapes in the most hospitable soil is a crucial factor to creating a world-class wine. Chateau Latour is like no other Bordeaux wine; it has been the most consistent of the First Growth chateau from the Medoc for over 100 years. Since 1996, Latour has been producing some of the best wines in their history.
Latour wine combines power, concentration, purity, just a hint of austerity and a regal bearing. Mature wines are full-bodied, power coupled with that beautiful purity of fruit, velvet, refined tannins and layers of cassis, earth, truffle, spice and tobacco flavors. Latour is not a wine to drink young. It is far too tannic, powerful and reserved during its youth. It is better consumed when mature. It is usually better with at least 15 years of bottle age. Maturity peak is between 18 and 60 years of age after the vintage. Latour wines have remarkable staying power and have the ability to age gracefully for decades, making it one of the longest living wines in the world.
In 2012, Latour announced that they would no longer be selling wine as futures. 2011 was the final year Chateau Latour was sold En Primeur. Latour began releasing their wines when they were considered “ready to drink”. The 2012 vintage was released in 2020. It was the first vintage release in nearly a decade (8 years) since its departure from the En Primeur system. This is an incredibly unique stance the chateau has taken and speaks volume to its determination to offer only the very best product to its consumers.
Additionally, as of 2019, the entire vineyard was certified as being 100% organic, which makes a huge statement in Bordeaux. The Enclos vineyard is entirely plowed by horses, which benefits the vineyard by placing less strain on the vines, that machinery typically would. To defend against disease, Latour relies on a myriad of different plants, copper and sulfur, which are all found in nature. All fertilizers are 100% organic.
With one of the most recognizable labels (which depicts the famous Saint-Laurent Tower, which has resided on the property since the 14th Century) in the world of wine, Chateau Latour has become a beacon for serious wine enthusiasts and collectors alike, drawing extreme interest on the wine market, which it has accomplished for centuries. The trademark tower gracing the label is but a symbol of the estate’s prestige. The true magical allure resides within the bottle, which has consistently propelled Latour to prominence each year.
Robert Parker | 94 RP
Very deep ruby-red. Pungent, inky, nutty aromas of blackcurrants and minerals; very sexy oak treatment gives the nose a wonderful sweetness. Big, minerally, and shapely, with lovely purity of dark berry flavor. Has clarity and grip, but not quite the richness of the ’95. The tannins build in the glass, but are in harmony with the wine’s middle palate material. Uncanny length for the vintage.
Vinous Media | 92-94 VM
Classic Cabernet style. Intense aromas of plums and cherries, with hints of new wood. Full-bodied, with juicy and ripe tannins and a long finish. Very well-structured.--Latour vertical. Best after 2003.
Wine Spectator | 91 WS