This morning is a landmark moment, almost a decade in the waiting. It marks the first unreleased vintage from Chateau Latour, since the Chateau removed themselves from the en primeur system in favour of ageing their wine themselves and thereon releasing them to market when they considered that they have entered their drinking window. The appeal is obvious, allowing consumers to buy wine with perfect provenance, direct from the Chateau cellar. Indeed, the removal from en primeur has seen the chateaus physical vintages make steady gains, having increased 23% across the last 15 vintages since 2015. The return to the market of this grand first growth will be a joy to collectors, hotly anticipated by the global market and promises to be a new dawn. It is a First Growth, released in its drinking window, with a quantum of supply which allows the market to take a proper bite. The prevailing question has been if the Chateau can shake hands with commercial sense and release with a discount to market, thereon making it a hallowed allocation: this they have done.
The release is Latour 2012, which chronologically fits as Chateau Latour broke the mould in 2012, with the 2011 vintage marking their last en primeur release. It is one of the wines of the vintage, awarded 96 points by Neal Martin who says ‘It has always been a candidate for wine of the vintage… just have a bit of patience.’ It has been awarded 96+ from Lisa Perotti-Brown from The Wine Advocate who describes it as having ‘notions of preserved Morello cherries, baked blackcurrants and blackberry compote, giving way to nuances of pencil shavings, unsmoked cigars, Chinese five spice and sandalwood plus ever so subtle hints of cardamom and eucalyptus…finishing with a veritable firework display of lingering spices and minerals.’ The price today on release of £2,100, or £4,200 the right move by the chateau offering a 30% discount to the average vintage trading price since 2005 and a 6% discount to the lower scoring 2011. It affords collectors the chance to own a superb vintage, without carry costs and with some upside left on the table. Their new releases will become perennial, so securing an allocation for the years to come is also advisable. As can be seen from the table below, the 2012 has the lowest Price Over Points score of any vintage since 2005, a clear indicator of the value offered today.
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Chateau Latour has arguably the best terroir in Pauillac, its famous tower visible as you drive north into Pauillac from the village of St Julien. Latour is surrounded by top Second Growths, with Leoville Las Cases to the south and Pichon Lalande and Pichon Baron to the west; all powerful wines with high percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon. Latour tends to be the biggest of the first growth wines, with an intense colour, powerful flavours and aromas, firm tannins and intense vitality. Latour is the epitome of left bank Bordeaux and Forts Latour its brilliant second wine, one that goes from strength to strength. Today also sees the release of Forts Latour 2014, another new release. The 2014 vintage has been one of the best performing in terms of returns, underrated from barrel by most, yet confirmed from bottle as very fine and the ignition for the banner years that followed.
Recurrently the best scoring second wine and one of the darlings of both Asia and the old world, Forts Latour 2014 is a strong buy at £840 per case of six or £1,680 per 12. It has been awarded 93 points from Neal Martin and Antonio Galloni from Vinous Media and this is matched by Lisa Perrotti Brown. Such scores make it the finest vintage since 2010 and 2009, trumping all other back to 2006, while offering an 8% discount to the average trading price. Indeed, again with the exception of the 2010, which has a score more akin to the grand cru wine, the 2014 has the lowest POP score, reinforcing the value proposition on release.
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Latour 2012 and Forts Latour 2014 are strong buys indicated by their POP scores and discount to market. Collectors and investors should stock up.
96+ Points, Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate
The 2012 Latour is a blend of 90.2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.6% Merlot and 0.2% Petit Verdot. Medium to deep garnet colored, the nose slowly, measuredly emerges with notions of preserved Morello cherries, baked blackcurrants and blackberry compote, giving way to nuances of pencil shavings, unsmoked cigars, Chinese five spice and sandalwood plus ever so subtle hints of cardamom and eucalyptus. Medium-bodied, the palate delivers mouth-coating black and red fruit preserves with a firm, grainy-textured frame and fantastic freshness, finishing with a veritable firework display of lingering spices and minerals. This is a more restrained, relatively elegant vintage of Latour that may not have that “iron fist in a velvet glove” power of the greatest vintages but nonetheless struts its superior terroir and behind-the-scenes savoir faire with impressive panache. It is drinking nicely now with suitably rounded-off, approachable tannins, and the tertiary characters are just beginning to bring some more cerebral elements into the compote of temptingly primary black fruits. But, if you’re looking to drink it in full, flamboyant swing, give it another 5-10 years in bottle and drink it over the next 20-25 years+.
94 Points, James Suckling
Very perfumed with hints of minerals, currants, wet earth and stones. Full-bodied, muscular and chewy. Polished tannins, tight acidity and a savory finish. Very reserved. Muscular. Better in 2019.
Forts Latour 2014
93 Points, Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate
The 2014 Les Forts de Latour is a blend of 71.4% Cabernet Sauvignon and 28.6% Merlot. Deep garnet-purple colored, it needs a little coaxing to reveal expanding scents of blackcurrant pastilles, baked plums and boysenberries with suggestions of wood smoke, fragrant earth, cast-iron pan and charcuterie plus a faint waft of black truffles. Medium-bodied, the earthy/savory palate has loads of lively black fruit with a refreshing line and firm, grainy tannins, finishing on a lingering ferrous note.
94 Points, James Suckling
Glorious aromatics with currants, flowers, stones and light mushrooms. Medium to full body and fine tannins that are long and polished. Super linear, structured and long. Drink in 2019.
To buy these wines please email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone +44 (0)20 3957 5582. Offer subject to availability.