PV Tasting Notes
98 Points Steve Tanzer International Wine Cellar April 2008Independent Review
Deep ruby-red. Reticent, brooding aromas of cassis, black plum, graphite and flowers. Then utterly explosive in the mouth, with wonderful sappy complexity of flavor and a thickness of texture that builds and builds toward the back; almost no sign of the new oak here. Offers a near-magical combination of power and refinement, but this extremely primary wine is still an infant. Finishes with extraordinary persistence that leaves the palate vibrating. One of the greatest young Bordeaux I've tasted in recent years, and more complete and classic than the outrageously lush 2003. For his part, Engerer feels that this wine combines the best traits of the 2003 and 2000 Latours. I made the mistake of retasting the 2007 after trying this, and the tannins of the younger wine came off as dry by comparison. 98 points
96 Points Robert Parker The Wine Advocate April 2008
Only 44% of the production made it into the dense ruby/purple-hued 2005 Latour, a powerful, backward, 12,000-case blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon and 13% Petit Verdot and Merlot. As I wrote last year, this classic effort is built for the ages, and is largely destined to be drunk by our offspring rather than anyone over the age of 50 today. Complex aromas of crushed rocks, graphite, black cherries, creme de cassis, new saddle leather, and dried mushrooms are still tightly wound. The wine is full-bodied and powerful with exceptionally high tannin combined with zesty acidity, and laser-like focus. It will require 15 or more years of cellaring. I still prefer the 2003, but administrator Frederic Engerer says this “is more Latour.” Anticipated maturity: 2020-2060.
Latour is always the most difficult Medoc first-growth to find, largely because the vineyard and production are much smaller than its’ peers and because of the severe selection routinely done by owner Francois Pinault and administrator Frederic Engerer.
Latour already famous was discussed in the essays of Montaigne, himself a vine grower in Bordeaux in the sixteenth century. It was near the end of the seventeenth century that the estate passed by marriage from the de Chavanas, counsellor-secretary to King Louis XIV, to the Segur family, the son of Segur was known as the Vine Prince as possessing at the same time Chateau Lafite, Chateau Latour and Chateau Calon Segur. In the French revolution the property was divided and it was not until 1841 that the family succeeded in regaining the lost half. In 1842 the Societe Civile de Chateau Latour was formed, at that time unique but since widely copied; only family members could belong.
The tower “La Tour” stands alone in the centre of the vineyards. It was once part of a wall raised against pirates by the Medoc people in the Middle Ages. Perhaps the principle contribution of Chateau Latour is the soil, “terrior” half of which is composed of egg sized stones, strain two kilos and you are left with one kilo of stones in the sieve, the plows of Latour need to be sharpened twice a day, in fact the soil has so much “body” that before tractors were used in the 1960s it required two oxen to plough the ground.
Chateau Latour still employs the method of vine replacement called Jardinage. Every vine is allowed to live to its maximum age and then and only then torn out individually and replaced with new. Most Big Chateaux uproot sections at a set retirement age, usually about 35-40 years of age. As a consequence, Chateau Latour makes about 100 cases of wine per ache, where the norm is 130.
Latour is for me, the greatest of all wines, certainly the most consistent; it always manages to achieve a rare stylistic balance, irrespective of the vintage conditions, in that its wines are internationally known for both their elegance and purity of linear fruit flavour, along with power, muscularity and totally heroic longevity. In youth they are highly tannic and hard, famously distinctive in the way they mature ever so slowly, stubbornly refusing to succumb to the effects of time.
The team is led by Frederic Engerer, “president” vineyard manager Domingo Sanchez, Cellar Master Pierre-Henri Chabot and Oenologists Jacques and Eric Boissenot have ensured grape selection is paramount, only grapes from vines at least 25 years of age are allowed into the Grand Vin. Of course everything is done by hand, for me, there is no other wine to match for complete depth of flavour, complexity and hedonistic pleasure. Always a wine of nobility even in the “off vintages”.