Les Forts de Latour 1996 (Ex-chateau release)
Château Latour is one of the four original Premier Cru (First Growth) estates according to the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, which ranks the top wineries in the region.
It has a long history dating back to the 14th century when it was originally a fortified tower that served as a garrison during the 100 Year’s War. Over time, it was converted into a wine estate and became one of the most highly regarded wineries in Bordeaux. The vineyards of Château Latour cover 78 hectares and are planted with primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot.
The Château really became known for its wine legacy when Marquis de Ségur – whom Louis XV affectionately referred to as, “the Wine Prince,”– snapped up the property as an addition to his collection of legendary châteaux. It seemed Marquis de Ségur had the magic touch, considering he owned the second-to-none Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Mouton Rothschild and Château Calon Ségur as well. During Marquis de Ségur’s ownership, the Château experienced a golden age and rose to prominence, earning its First Growth title during the 1855 Classification.
The wine produced by Château Latour is highly sought after and is known for its complexity, depth, and aging potential. They stand out in unremarkable years and in great years, are often considered legendary. It is typically full-bodied with strong tannins and flavors of black currant, cedar, and spice. The winery produces several different wines, including a grand vin (first wine), as well as a second wine called Les Forts de Latour and a third wine called Pauillac de Château Latour.
Château Latour has been owned by the Pinault family since 1993, and they have invested heavily in the estate, including renovating the cellars and modernizing the winemaking facilities. Today, Château Latour continues to be one of the most prestigious and highly regarded wineries in the world, with its wines regularly commanding high prices at auction and in the secondary market. In 2012, Mr. Pinault made the radical decision to stop releasing wine futures and only release the wine when it is ready to drink. Decisions like this – and many others – put Château Latour in a league of its own. The visionaries at this property do not rest on their laurels by any means. Instead, they focus tirelessly on making innovative choices in their relentless pursuit of a perfect bottle, vintage after vintage.
Château Latour has often stood at the forefront of vineyard management with cutting-edge practices. In 1965, they were one of the first châteaux to introduce stainless steel vats to the fermentation process. In 2008, they reassessed their vineyard management processes and decided to implement horses to plough the soil. Château Latour is one of the leading châteaux in terms of organic winemaking and obtained their organic certification from Ecocert in 2015. For some of the choicest parcels, the château uses Biodynamic philosophies and curates each vintage based on the weather conditions and lunar calendar. There is no end to the amount of energy, resources, and time the winemaking team at Château Latour will put into ensuring the best harvest is brought to bottle.
Les Forts de Latour includes some plots that may eventually be used in the grand vin depending on the characteristics of each particular vintage. The same meticulous care is poured into this wine as the grand vin and Les Forts de Latour has a higher concentration of Merlot for immediate accessibility.
"The 1996 Les Forts de Latour has a deep garnet color with just a thin rim of bricking on the rim. The bouquet is fully mature but demonstrated good fruit concentration after 20 years, mulberry, red plum, plenty of cloves and an almost garrigue-like scent. The palate does not quite have the charm of the nose, the tannins a little brusque and perhaps compared to this deuxième vin nowadays, without the finesse and then it just tapers towards a cedar-infused finish. Drink bottles now and over the next 10 years. Tasted July 2016." - Robert Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate, Ratings: 90, Drink: 2016-2026
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