25th Anniversary Portfolio Tasting
Wednesday 4th February 2015 @ The Hospital Club
Louis Latour Agencies is the UK subsidiary of one of the one of the best known producers of Burgundy, Maison Louis Latour. The Louis Latour Agency business was founded in 1990 purely as a company for selling Louis Latour’s Burgundies to the UK wine market. Other producers, first from France, and also from New Zealand, Chile, South Africa and Australia have gradually been added to the portfolio of wines they represent. These include Simonnet-Febvre in Chablis which was acquired by Louis Latour in 2003 and Henry Fessy Beaujolais acquired in 2008. From the new world they currently represent Wakefield Wines, Craggy Range, Isonto, Vui Manent and various others.
So on a very chilly February day I found myself at The Hospital Club. The venue itself was light, airy and the perfect size for tasting (and co-owned by Dave Stewart from Eurythmics, as I later found out).
Here are some of the highlights, although I did not manage to take extensive notes!
It was good to catch up on some old favourites, wines that we stock that have changed vintage or haven’t tried for a while. The Louis Latour Grande Ardeche Chardonnay is always a favourite and the 2012 was very good as always, it had really stony, granitic minerality and a citrus-y freshness with dollop of oak. Other wines that really stood out for me were the Montagny 1er Cru La Grande Roche 2012 which I always find takes some beating as an affordable white Burgundy. Moving up a step, in terms of price and quality, the Meursault 1er Cru Chateau de Blagny 2010, a Louis Latour Monopole with buttery, citrus character, great elegance, poise and balance. The Louis Latour Batard Montrachet 2008 was stunning too, but it should be really shouldn’t it?
There were some great red Burgundies including the Volnay 1er Cru En Chevret 2010, a 1er Cru from Louis Latour I had not tried before, which was soft and round with bags of really pure red fruit.
The most interesting part of the Louis Latour tasting however, was a vertical tasting of Chambertin Cuvee Heritiers Latour from 2007 through to 2012. It was very interesting to see how the wines had developed with age and also how the vintage variation comes into play. If I had to pick to favourites it would have to be the oldest and the youngest, the 2007 and the 2012. I wonder if this due to the fact many people say that Burgundy “closes down” between 3 and 5 years old – there is a very interesting article about wine “going to sleep” at Decanter.com. The Chambertin Cuvee Heritiers Latour 2012 was a vibrant red colour with smoky, dark red fruit on the nose with more pure red fruit and creaminess on a very long palate. The 2007 was developing more secondary characteristics so, along with the red fruit, there were leathery, waxy and farmyard nuances creeping in. I also rated the 2011 very highly. For me, the only weak vintage was the 2010 which I found a little bit thin. They all had fantastic colours in the glass ranging from younger bright ruby red to slightly orange-y red with age. A very interesting comparative tasting.
Wakefield Wines, Clare Valley
The Wakefield Wines Estate range of wines is always great value for money and were good across the board. The Wakefield Estate Riesling was my favourite, the 2014 was very refreshing, packed full of lime and citrus fruit with a hint of sweetness on the mid-palate but finishing crisp and dry. Of the red wines, the Wakefield Jaraman Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 was a good old-fashioned Aussie Cab with lots of blackcurrant / cassis notes but with really a lively, invigorating menthol, mint chocolate nose. Wakefield’s flagship wine The Wakefield Visionary Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 was a really well structured and balance, but the tannins are a bit firm at present. If it softens up to be anything like the 2009 (tasted in December 2014) it will be a great wine. Wakefield Wines Export Manager, Neil Hadley MW, mentioned that there will be an equivalent Shiraz available very soon, which I greatly look forward to.
I struggled with the Craggy Range Sauvignon Blancs (and the Rimapere Sauvignon Blanc which they make in conjunction with Compagnie Baron de Edmond de Rothschild). For me they are too “souped up” with too much sweetness and concentration. This is just personal taste though, I know that some people love their NZ Sauvignon like this and it is a very popular style. The Te Muna Road Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc was edging towards my preferred style and was more mineral and restrained than the Avery Vineyard. It is not just Craggy Range, when we needed to find a new supplier for NZ Sauvignon Blanc recently we found many of the Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs just too much and we actually ended up with some Palliser Estate wines from Martinborough!
The two stars for me were the Craggy Range Aroha 2012 and the Gimblett Gravels Vineyard Te Kahu 2011, their top Pinot Noir and a Merlot / Cabernet Franc / Cabernet Sauvignon / Malbec blend respectively. Both are amazing wines. The problem I have as a retailer is that I don’t have too many customers who would splash out £50 or £60 on a bottle of New Zealand wine even though the wines comfortably warrant these prices. In fact, I think they are very good value for money for what they are. By the way, if you are ever in need of the heaviest wine bottle you can find with the deepest punt, look no further than Craggy Range’s top wines. Personally, I thought that there was a trend away from such heavy bottles, but it seems that there are some still out there!
Thanks to Louis Latour Agencies UK for a great tasting.