Historical Chateau Latour Tasting

1 April 2011
Author: Jeannie Cho Lee

However, instead of being able to choose a vintage, each of the 12 guests were invited to draw a vintage out of a box so no two same wines could be chosen. I was lucky enough to select the oldest vintage in Latour’s cellar: a pre-phylloxera 1863. There were only 7 bottles of this vintage in the cellar and I inspected two then chose one with the higher level. 1949 was forgotten. Each of the guests knew only his/her own vintage and all 12 wines were then poured blind over dinner.


What an incredible experience to discover the longevity and the amazing clarity of expression in 60 to 130-year-old wines! The youthfulness of the wines had everyone guessing at least several decades too young. The 1863 vintage had such amazing colour and aromatics that everyone guessed it was 1960s rather than 1860s! It was a wonderful, very special evening that was organised as a prelude to the Latour ex-cellar Christie’s wine auction which will be held in Hong Kong on May 27th.


1. 1863 Chateau Latour, Pauillac, France

The wine started out with mushroom and tobacco notes but soon expressed more and more musty, leather, aged character. Not a surprise given its age. This wine was paired blind with the 1971 and everyone thought the vintages were close in age! Amazing concentration and youthfulness given the vintage. Not a great bottle though, because of a mustiness that only started to surface after the glass warmed up. When I first tasted the wine, it was fresh and lively and although it was only decanted just before serving, much of the freshness had disappeared quickly. (92)

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2. 1893 Chateau Latour, Pauillac, France

Pale ruby, like a rose from the Rhone Valley. Very aromatic wine with light colour. By sight alone, one would guess Burgundy. Even on the palate, the tannins have softened into a silky texture with only pure fruit and acidity remaining. Light bodied, soft, delicate, Burgundian – a lovely drink but fading in the glass after about an hour. To be enjoyed as soon as it is opened. (91)


3. 1897 Chateau Latour, Pauillac, France

Restrained nose of herbs, green beans and hint of dried flowers. An evolved, tired wine that has seen better days. The tannins are modest and much of the fruit has already vanished. Not a surprise given its age. It’s remarkable that it had held up even this well. (87)


4. 1909 Chateau Latour, Pauillac, France

A medium-bodied aromatic wine that is so seductive on the nose. The lovely perfume leads to a sweet mid-palate filled with dried floral notes and subtle herbal flavours. There is incredible grace, elegance and real depth. Layers of flavours keep unfolding gently, one after another. A very impressive wine – especially at 112 years old! (97)


5. 1919 Chateau Latour, Pauillac, France

A stylish medium bodied Latour with classic cedar and leather notes. This is traditional style winemaking – a light touch, very little extraction and moderate ripeness. It has evolved into a lovely wine with nice intensity and amazing life, considering its age. Soft, velvety in texture with a jasmine tealeaf finish. Enjoy now. (94)


6. 1945 Chateau Latour, Pauillac, France

The 1945 tasted nearly 8 years ago at the chateau was memorable, but not as intense and complex as this bottle. This is an incredible wine with still lively fruit characters and a depth that comes from great structure, freshness and intense flavours. The long bottle aging has added depth and nuances that add to the complexity. The 1945 and the 1947 Latour are two of the best older Bordeaux that I have ever tasted. A glorious wine! (99)


7. 1947 Chateau Latour, Pauillac, France

A Latour that I can inhale throughout the evening and be absolutely content. The nose is seductive and spicy. The wonderful bouquet of flavours carries through on the palate with amazing depth and the finish is very long. The wine beguiles by evolving and changing by the minute in the glass. A multi-dimensional beauty, one with charm as well as grace. A perfect wine. (100)


8. 1961 Chateau Latour, Pauillac, France

I’ve had the privilege of tasting the 1961 three times in the past 12 months, twice at the chateau. I am always underwhelmed. The colour is rich and deep but the flavours are closed and not expressive. The tannins and flavours are chunky and sit on your palate rather than caress it. Many have commented that this wine is young and not open, but after 50 years, shouldn’t the wine be coming around now? This is a dense Latour but without the generosity of flavours found in other 1961s. It is an excellent Latour but not among the finest as the vintage might lead you to expect. Also tasted six months ago, and this was the better bottle. Enjoy now. (96)


9. 1970 Chateau Latour, Pauillac, France

This is a dark tannic linear style of Latour, with amazing precision. The flavours are focused, vibrant and the tannins are firm, velvety and ripe. The fresh acidity has enabled this wine to age gracefully. This wine is restrained but on the palate there are plenty of dark berry flavours. Enjoy now. (94)


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10. 1971 Chateau Latour, Pauillac, France

A vibrant Latour with lively blackberry fruit and fresh acidity. A very impressive wine given the vintage – this is one of the most successful wines from 1971. Still young and very densely packed. Tasted blind, it showed so well that everyone guessed it was from a much grander year. Wait at least another 3-5 years before enjoying it. Will keep for another decade or more. (96)


11. 1983 Chateau Latour, Pauillac, France

The nose has roasted characters and a hint of cocoa. On the palate, the flavours are slightly disjointed. The tannins have a sharp edge and are far from supple. The flavours lack a bit of freshness and tannins stick out with the wine appearing dense, chunky and unrefined. Drink now, as on this showing the wine won’t improve. (89)


12. 1985 Chateau Latour, Pauillac, France

This is a fresh vibrant Latour with great focus and weight. While the wine has very good depth and intensity, it falls short when compared to some of Latour’s more powerful and expressive vintages. The flavours are balanced, gentle and delicate. This wine is just reaching its prime – enjoy soon or lay it down in your cellar for another few decades. (94)