This morning is a landmark moment, as it marks the first unreleased vintage from Chateau Latour, since removing themselves from the en primeur system. The release is Forts Latour 2012, which chronologically fits as Chateau Latour broke the mould in 2012, declaring that they would no longer participate in the en primeur system, with the 2011 vintage marking their last en primeur release. Latour took the polemical decision to leave 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. As such, today’s release is the first whereon there are no cases on the market, so rather more akin to pricing during an en primeur campaign. In addition, this morning also marks the release of the exciting of 2006 vintage of Latour.

Chateau Latour 2006 has been awarded 95 points by Robert Parker, subsequently 94 from Neal Martin. Parker states ‘The 2006 Latour performed even better from bottle than from barrel… From barrel, I thought it was a modern-day version of the 1996 or 1986, and certainly the 1996 comparison still holds.’ This is high praise, with the 1996 trading at £3,250 per case of six. Today’s release represents excellent value at £2,575 per case of six, for perfect ex-cellar stock, which has been ageing gracefully under Chateaux cellar eaves. The average price per case of six of all trading vintages of Latour is £3,165. Today’s release represents 18.64% discount to the average and it is instructive that in 2006 only 38% of production made it into the Grand Vin, which equates to 10,000, just over half the normal production.

Forts Latour 2012, however, is a seminal moment, one that will gain a lot of market interest and experience strong demand. Particularly given the release price today is £875, the average price of Forts Latour running from 2000 to 2011 is £1,040, an exciting 15.87% discount. Forts Latour 2012 has been awarded 90 points from Robert Parker. The release price of Forts Latour 2012 is indicative of an undervalued vintage when compared to a plot of current market prices and scores of previous vintages. £875 per 6×75 case of the 90-point scoring 2012 vintage is directly comparable to other recent vintages awarded the same score from The Wine Advocate, namely the 2004, 2001, 1999 and 1990 vintages. These four releases currently have an average market price of £1,100 per 6×75 case. This is indicative of a 20.45%, or £225 disparity between the 2012 release price and the market price that can be expected once the market has adjusted to its natural rate. With constant demand from the US, Europe and enormous demand from Asia, Forts Latour 2012 looks like a strong buy, which is likely to see a price correction to above £1,050 in the short-term. It is noteworthy that the 2006, as can be seen below, also looks to be due an adjustment.

Forts de LatourRobert ParkerPrice (6×75)

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.

Chateau Latour 2006, 94 Points Neal Martin
Tasted at Bordeaux Index’s annual 10-Year On tasting in London. The 2006 Château Latour has quite a vibrant bouquet with lively raspberry, wild strawberry, cedar and pencil lead scents that all gently unfold in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with supple, slightly chewy red berry fruit, a dash of spice, maybe a little tight towards the finish, unlike the Lafite-Rothschild and Mouton-Rothschild. It has a grainy texture and offers fine precision on the finish, although I would have liked a little more persistence to come through, a tad more conviction. It is not quite the revelation of say the 2002 Latour that transcends the limitations of the vintage, yet it still has much to offer. Tasted January 2016.

Forts de Latour, 90 Points Robert Parker
The second wine, from vineyards outside of their famous walled l’enclos, the 2012 Les Forts de Latour (75% Cabernet Sauvignon and the balance mostly Merlot) is a beautiful, elegant wine with a dense purple color, notes of sweet black cherries and blackcurrants, subtle background minerality and no evidence of oak. This medium to full-bodied, beautifully constructed and layered Les Forts de Latour should drink nicely for 15 or more years.

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