A Château Latour Vertical Tasting (1937 to 2003)

Attending a vertical tasting of Château Latour is a once in a lifetime experience. But we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend not one, but two Latour vertical tastings this year. This second tasting was also held by Wine Watch, and took place at 1800 East Las Olas. While the last tasting featured fantastic vintages, like 1961, 1982, and 1996, this one included 1937, 1955, and 1959. In all, there were twelve wines represented in the tasting (one being 2000 Les Forts de Latour). Most showed well, though the 1937 proved to be undrinkable (possibly due to questionable storage). The other older vintages had held up quite well, though some appeared to be tiring a bit. As expected, 1959 showed extremely well, an excellent representation of this famed vintage. The tasting started out blind, and I was able to correctly identify a number of vintages. In this case, the blind aspect of the tasting made it much more interesting; in fact, a number of tasters chose the 1960 and 1980 vintages as among their favorites. If one thing is for sure, it’s that Château Latour can make a great wine in just about any vintage.
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1937 Light amber color. If you want to know how this tasted, imagine a mixutre of acetone and sour spoiled apple juice. This wine was difficult to taste. If you want to buy a bottle of this, pay what you think the bottle is worth, not the wine that’s inside. – 70/100
1952 Lots of browning at the edges. Very advanced on both the nose and palate. The fruit appears to be fading. A bit cheesy, some red fruits, stewed prunes, wet leaves, tobacco, and leather. Tannins have essentially resolved. Acidity is showing a bit much on the finish. Still a drinkable wine, but was obviously inferior to the 1955 and 1959 on this evening. – 88/100
1955 Showing its age, but quite charming. Obviously this wine is past its peak, but it’s still quite drinkable. Dark plum, black currant, herbs, curry, barnyard, and leather. Subdued but quite elegant on the palate. Tannins have essentially resolved but there is still a nice mouthfeel and good balance on the palate. Impressive length on the finish. Good level of acidity to give this wine good freshness. – 93/100
1959 My WOTN in this Latour vertical tasting. This wine is still rocking. The tasting started out blind, and I thought this wine was much younger. Medium ruby color. Improved significantly over 2 hours, more so than any of the other wines. Black currant, cedar, tobacco, and spice. Impeccable balance; everything just seemed to blend so well together. Full mouthfeel, with silky tannins. An incredibly long, lingering finish. This wine won’t be better than it is today, but it’s a strong contender for one of the best Latours I’ve ever tasted. – 96/100
img_15611960 This is why I love starting tastings blind. A lot of people loved this wine, and we were shocked to learn it was a 1960. In truth, this seemed like a soft, elegant right bank wine from 1982. Lots of fruit – very pure, herbs, cedar, leather, and dark chocolate. Still has a nice tannic structure, but soft and silky. As I said before, very soft and elegant on the palate. A medium-plus length finish. Perhaps this was a perfect bottle, but this was an overachieving 1960, for sure. It was very un-Latour like though, but I don’t mean that negatively. – 94/100
1962 This bottle of 1962 Latour was not as strong as the last that I had almost one year ago. It still had that oxidized note. Fruit profile of prunes and black currant. Also noted Asian spices, tobacco, and green pepper. Still had some life on the palate. Structure still intact with round, soft tannins. Fell a bit short on the finish. – 92/100
1970 I don’t know what it is about the 1970 Château Latour, but it always disappoints me. Perhaps it’s because I always try this in a vertical tasting with superior vintages. But on this night, it was one of the least impressive wines. The nose has lots of ripe fruits, with black currant and cherry. Very soft mouthfeel, but a bit thin on the palate. Reserved on the mid-palate. A charming finish, with very good freshness. I would love to drink this any night of the week, but there are simply better Latours out there. – 92/100
1975 Advanced color for a 1975. Dark and red fruits, fig, sous bois, tobacco, and Asian spices on the nose. Not terribly interesting on the palate. Past its apogee. Very drinkable now, but I wouldn’t hold this for much longer. – 91/100
img_15621980 On blind tasting, this easily outclassed the 1970 and 1975. One of the surprises of the evening. An exotic nose. A bit of Brett, saddle leather, tobacco, mint, fig, and black currant. Medium bodied on the palate. Tannins have essentially resolved, but a nice solid mouthfeel. Acidity does show a bit high. Really enjoyed this wine. It stayed interesting throughout the evening. It goes to show you that Latour can really shine in some of the off-vintages. – 93/100
1989 It seems that the 1989 is really starting to show its potential. Nice garnet color. Great aromatics of dark fruits, barnyard, leather, tobacco, spice, and musk. The nose was much more open than when I tasted this wine one year ago. Good, but not great concentration. Started out a bit tannic, but this loosened up after an hour. Earlier this year, I recommended others holding this wine for another year or two, and it seems to be ready to go now. Should still drink well for a number of years. – 94/100
img_15632003 From half-bottle. A gorgeous wine, and a crowd pleaser in this vertical tasting. On blind tasting, this and the 1937 were the easiest to identify. A big wine, and very concentrated. Still a dark opaque color. Cassis, pencil shavings, graphite, cigar tobacco, and espresso. Very smooth for a 2003, and with excellent ripeness of its fruit. Excellent balance, but still a bit tannic. A wine to hold, but surprisingly, this can be enjoyed now with a lot of aeration. – 96/100
2000 Les Forts De Latour Lacks the punch and concentration of a Latour, but this is a charmer that was among the better wines of the evening. Cassis, cedar, tobacco, barnyard, and dark chocolate. Silky tannins and a smooth mouthfeel. Good length on the finish, but a hint of bitterness noted. Truth be told, I prefer the 2001 Les Forts. – 93/100
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Château Latour Vertical Tasting

Latour Lineup
1-22-2016 Château Latour tasting at Aquavita, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
For any Bordeaux wine lover, what would be the ultimate tasting? Perhaps a Pétrus/Le Pin comparison? A first growth horizontal tasting from 1982? One could argue that a vertical tasting of Château Latour that included both the 1961 and 1982 could qualify as an ultimate tasting. This is why we were very excited to take part in a private Latour vertical tasting, held by Wine Watch in Fort Lauderdale. This tasting included not only the iconic vintages of 1961 and 1982, but also included many other tremendous vintages as well, like the 1990 and 1996. What made this tasting even more unique was that it included the 1962, an excellent vintage that often gets overshadowed by the 1961.
Château Latour produces some of the best wines in the Médoc, year in and year out. Much of this is due to some of the best terroir in Bordeaux, which includes the famous l’Enclos vineyard. There is also amazing history associated with this estate, from the planting of vines in the 14th century to the purchase by François Pinault in 1993. This tasting included a number of the best wines from this famed history. On this night, many wines were stars, but the ultimate standout was the 1982 (though the 1961 was perhaps not a great representation). Regardless, I would be happy spending the evening with any of these wines.

Latour-61-62

This incredible vertical tasting started with the famed 1961 Château Latour. Unfortunately, this did not appear to be a good representation of this wine, and it appeared a bit oxidized. Amber/brown color. Pruney fruits, dried raisins, leather, herbs, and damp forest floor. A nice mouthfeel, and still adequate structure. A bit flat on the finish. I won’t render much of an opinion here, and will defer until the next 1961. The 1962 Latour also had a bit of an oxidized note, but less so than the 1961. Less earthy and rustic than the 1961. Still had similar fruit profile with prunes and dried raisins. Also noted old library book, tobacco, mushroom, and green pepper — a much more vibrant nose. Really lively and elegant on the palate, and seemed to become more interesting with more time in the glass. Classy, with a beautiful richness. Still had nice structure with round, soft tannins. On this night, I preferred the 1962.


Latour-82

The 1970 Château Latour was the least impressive of the tasting. Still had a surprisingly ripe nose, with black currant, some cherry, and fig. Very soft mouthfeel, but a bit thin on the palate. Reserved on the attack and lacked punch on the mid-palate. Hint of bitterness on the finish. Overall, the 1970 did not impress tonight. But, oh did the 1982 Latour impress. This was clearly the wine of the night. The nose was simply amazing, complex and layered. Black currant, cedar, brown spices, licorice, and tobacco. Pure perfection on the palate, from the attack to the finish. A long finish that left a sense of currant and sweet tobacco. Easily one of the best wines I’ve ever tasted. This baby will sing for decades. After this was the 1989 Latour, which was quite reserved for the first two hours. There is certainly potential here. Nice garnet color. A shy nose of dark fruits, spice, and musk. Lacked the concentration of the 1982 and 1990, but it still had charm. This wine didn’t blow anyone away, but when bookended by the 1982 and 1990, it’s just not a fair fight. I would still consider holding onto this a bit longer before opening (perhaps a year or two), based on the tasting this evening.


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The 1990 Château Latour was my #2 wine of the night. Gained weight the whole night and kept revealing its complex layers. Dark fruits, lots of cherry, barnyard, lots of cedar, fennel, and sweet tobacco. Full-bodied, with incredible balance. Clearly in its wheelhouse right now. Silky ripe tannins, with a solid structure. Very long finish, with lots of fresh acidity. The 1996 Latour was probably the #3 wine of the night. At times, seemed similar to the 1982 in aromatic profile, but still showing very young. Very dark ruby color. Black currant, cedar, mushroom, and licorice. Like the 1990, incredibly well balanced. Lots of ripe tannins. You can open this now, but if you wait for another 5 years, you will be rewarded. The 1999 Latour was the pleasant surprise of the night. I really enjoyed this, and found it be quite interesting. There was much more earthiness on the nose, with a pleasant barnyard scent. Also showed the characteristic dark fruits, cedar, and tobacco. When I closed my eyes, it was like smelling fruit that had been crushed in dirt. Soft tannins in the background. An elegant mouthfeel, but still had adequate power. A bit higher acidity noted on the finish. Compared to the 2000 Latour, this seemed much more evolved.


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The 2000 Château Latour was simply fantastic, but is just so young right now. A shy nose that did open up nicely in the glass, really showing its pedigree. Black currant, damp earth, pencil shavings, and licorice. Such a classic Pauillac nose. Well-structured but silky smooth on the palate. A formidable wall of tannins on the finish. Also notable acidity. This is an awesome wine, but it really deserves 5-10 more years in the cellar. The 2005 Latour seemed like a baby on this night. Again, a shy nose, but layered and nicely perfumed. Black currant, lots of fennel, clove, and mocha. Can still detect some oak influence. Powerful and really hits you in all corners on the palate. Tannic, but not aggressively so. An incredibly long finish that never seemed to go away. Should be another ‘wow’ wine in 10-20 years. It wouldn’t be criminal to try it now though.


Les Forts Yquem

The night finished with a tasting of the 2001 Les Forts de Latour and 2011 Château d’Yquem. The 2001 Les Forts was a very impressive wine. A really nice nose of ripe cassis, blackberry, tobacco, and chocolate. Lots of finesse and elegance. Smooth on the palate. The Les Forts certainly held its own tonight among the great wines of Latour. The 2011 d’Yquem was the nightcap. It paired beautifully with the chocolate covered bacon. What more can you say? I’ll certainly pair more bacon with my Sauternes from now on. Such a classy wine, with such great balance at this young age.