The Wine List Page 6 - Chateau Latour
This time last year I found myself about to reach the grand age of forty. As someone who uses wine to mark occasions, whether they are of any genuine meaning or not, I had therefore picked something particularly special and fitting — a 2005 Forts de Latour. To those who know Forts de Latour is a second wine admittedly but from a great vintage and amazing producer. Chateau Latour is my favourite Bordeaux. There are other Bordeaux chateau undoubtedly that I know better and that I hold in closer, more familial regard but if I lived in a world without constraints then Latour is what I’d sup on with my duck confit lunches, my evening shepherd’s pie, my Sunday lamb and my In-and-Out burgers occasionally flown in via private jet. I’m sure I’m not alone in this assessment either. Latour has widely been regarded as one the best producers in Bordeaux for several centuries. It sits as one of the four original first growths in the 1855 classification. Often the wines of the classification are regarded as aristocratic. Whilst this might be a fitting description for the classification generally when it comes to Latour it is entirely unfair. An aristocracy is a varied and inconsistent bunch — titles often being more about the history of the house than worth. Latour however stands above this regally and monarchically. Opening a bottle of Latour then is the equivalent of meeting the British Queen (herself celebrating her own birthday today).
Latour’s great strength, like Her Majesty’s, is its timeless consistency and resolute propriety — it is never less than exemplary. The first bottle of Latour I ever enjoyed was a 1994. Not a great vintage in Bordeaux but this bottle was quite perfect nonetheless. The other bottles I’ve tasted have followed in similar fashion. The 1996 was perhaps one of the best wines I’ve ever tasted and impressed without being at all improper. I once sat and tasted side-by-side a bottle of Latour from another generally poor Bordeaux vintage alongside a 2005 Ch. Pavie — a wonderful wine from a good producer in one of the best vintages ever. More than that a wine simplistically reduced to the term “a 100 point wine” for those keeping score. The Pavie was indeed spectacular. It wiped the floor with the Latour for the first sip, giving me the oenological equivalent of a performance by a Las Vegas headliner. It leapt from the glass and tore off its designer dress to reveal a figure-hugging sequinned bodysuit while fireworks went off and it hit a G7 note. The Latour sat alongside unflinching and seemingly nonplussed. As I drank more of each however I started to wish that the Pavie would finish so I could hear the Latour very quietly impart its presence and timeless sensibility. Had I been able to open another bottle I would have reached immediately for the Latour.
I won’t be having a Latour for my birthday this year but as the Queen herself recently put it so eloquently “We’ll meet again” I’m sure.