I recently was invited to try some exceptional Burgundies from Maison Louis Latour. In front of me as I sat down was 3 verticals:
– Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru
– Meursault 1er Cru “Chateau de Blagny”
– Chateau Corton Grancey Grand Cru
Maison Louis Latour is one of Burgundy’s oldest merchants. They are well known for both their red and white wines, which I was going to have the pleasure of experiencing. They are the largest landowner of Grand Cru estates in Burgundy and are fully owned by the Latour family. It is family-owned and run for more than 200 years (founded 1797). That is quite a legacy. They also besides owning fantastic terroir in Burgundy, they also produce their own oak barrels, which gives them additional control over the flavour profile and house style of their wines.
Before we started on this extraordinary tasting, we enjoyed a bit of bubble: Simonnet – Febvre Cremant de Bourgogne Blanc Brut NV ($24.99). Simonnet – Febvre is the specialized Chablis arm of Maison Latour producing high quality wines at an affordable price point for most people. This cremant was light lemon in colour. Light body. Dry with lemon, yeasty and citrus aromas and flavours. There was also a bit of minerality and grapefruit rind on the palate. It had very light bubbles which seemed to effortlessly dissolve in your mouth. Very elegant. I highly recommend this wine.
Our speaker to lead us through these verticals was Mr. Bernard Retornaz, President, Louis Latour Inc. He is the President for Maison Louis Latour’s U.S. subsidiary, Lous Latour Inc. He had worked before as an export sales manager for Maison Laboure-Roi based in Nuits-Saint-Georges in Burgundy. He was a very generous man with his time with us, and in addition brought some of his own bottles of Lous Latour to complete our verticals, so we were able to taste both wines on the market, as well as wines that are no longer available. Quite an honour.
Meursault 1er Cru “Chateau de Blagny”
Our first vertical for this tasting was the Meursault 1er Cru “Chateau de Blagny”. The vintages were 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006. Château de Blagny is located high on the hillside overlooking Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet, on the upper portion of the hill, which is not as fertile as the vineyards that are lower on the hill. This Meursault in general should have a higher acidity and not be as “fat” as the lower slope grown grapes. This wine is made from the Chardonnay grape. The wine ages for 8 to 12 months in Latour’s oak barrels and undergoes 100% malolactic fermentation to change the harsher malic acids to more buttery lactic acids.
- Meursault 1er Cru “Chateau de Blagny” 2009 ($76.99). This is the youngest wine in the vertical and perhaps shows the most fruitiness. The wine was medium golden in colour. Honey, apricot and various ripe stone fruit aromas. Light body with cinnamon flavour up front. Nice, round and smooth on the palate. Citrus and green apple flavours. The medium level of acidity in this wine doesn’t seem apparent as you taste the wine, but it makes itself known on the end, when it helps make the fruit flavours from this wine last a long time in your mouth. An excellent wine.
- Meursault 1er Cru “Chateau de Blagny” 2008 (not available). Bernard viewed this as a classic vintage for this wine with more of the minerality and acidity that you get from the limestone on this hill. Medium golden in the glass. Stony minerality and citrus aromas. Light body but nice and round and smooth on the palate. Medium acidity. Citrus, light lime flavour and a hint of spice. Dry with a long length. The level of acid was lower on the finish of this wine compared to the 2009 vintage.
- Meursault 1er Cru “Chateau de Blagny” 2007 (not available). This wine was medium lemon in colour. Nice nose of citrus and minerality. Medium body, smooth and round. Red apple and cinnamon flavours. Very tasty and very approachable, but the level of acidity was quite low, which means this wine will not age well. Drink it sooner rather than later.
- Meursault 1er Cru “Chateau de Blagny” 2006 ($74.99). This vintage was a favorite of Bernard. He viewed this also as a classic vintage for this wine. Deeper golden in colour (which comes with aging). Butter, citrus, flowers, and minerality on the nose. Round, creamy mouth feel. Medium body with flavours of apple and light spice. Medium length with medium acidity.
Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru
The Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru vertical was up next. This wine, from the Chardonnay grape, comes from the Cote de Beaune region of Burgundy and Appellation of Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru A.C. The terroir is stony limestone here. The vineyard is situated in the prime area of the hillside of Corton which faces southeast giving the morning and afternoon sun but not the hotter, end of the day late afternoon & evening sun. 80-100% of the grapes are aged in new oak barrels and all undergo malolactic fermentation.
- Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2009 ($199.99). Medium lemon honey coloured in the glass. Lots of smoky oak on the nose (which will go away with time in the bottle). Also vanilla, cinnamon, clove and apple aromas. Medium body and acidity. Cinnamon spice lasts all the way from front, mid, to the finish. Round mouth feel with a light citrus flavour. Long length. This wine needs some time to age, but shows already that it will be a wonderful wine in the future.
- Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2006 ($399.99 for 1.5 litre). Again medium lemon honey colour in the glass. Minerality, citrus and vanilla aromas. Fairly restrained nose. Round with medium body and acidity. Citrus, apricot and vanilla flavour with nice butteriness on the finish. Some spice shows up on the mid palate. Medium length.
- Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2005 ($185.99). Deep honey colour. Light nose with some spice, caramel, apricot and vanilla aromas. Round and buttery in your mouth, with citrus, flowers, vanilla and a bit of spice. Medium length but a wonderful lingering finish. Very nice.
- Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2002 (not available). Deep honey colour in the glass. Minerality, flowers, cinnamon and vanilla aromas. Lots of flavour, with apricots, vanilla, spice and flowers. Round and buttery too with nutmeg on the finish. Long length. Very easy to drink! I really liked this wine.
Chateau Corton Grancey Grand Cru
The Corton Grand Cru Appellation falls within the Côte de Beaune Region of Burgundy near the village of Aloxe-Corton. The soils here are of Marl-based soil with a limestone base. This Region produces world renowned Pinot Noir. Of important note, this particular wine is only produced in years when the Pinot Noir grapes reach perfect maturity. The grapes are harvested from the following vineyards: Les Bressandes, Les Chaumes, Les Pougets, Les Perrières and Les Grèves. The Chateau Corton Grancey Grand Cru is known for finesse and elegance.
- Chateau Corton Grancey Grand Cru 2009 ($149.99). Medium cherry / ruby colour in the glass. Sour cherries and some raspberry aromas. Very generous fruit flavours on the palate. Juicy raspberries, ripe cherries with some spice and floweriness showing up toward the finish. Medium acidity and low tannins. Long length. A very nice wine.
- Chateau Corton Grancey Grand Cru 2006 (not available). Deeper garnet in colour. Restrained nose with light raspberry and cherry aromas. Light body with raspberry, raspberry leaf, and cherry flavours, with violets showing up mid palate. Firmer tannins with a long dry finish. A very nice structured wine.
- Chateau Corton Grancey Grand Cru 2005 (134.99). Medium garnet in colour. Light nose. Very flavourful with red apples, violets, red cherries and a hint of vanilla. Light body with medium acidity. Long length. Very nice.
- Chateau Corton Grancey Grand Cru 2003 (not available). The 2003 vintage came from a very hot year. It was actually a hot year all around the world, and produced super-ripe grapes for vinification. Looking at this wine and the other 3 vintages, it was easy to pick out. It was at least twice as dark in colour. It had an interesting nose with some tar, smoke and light cherries. Medium body with light mouthfeel. Red apples, red cherries and some vanilla. Firmer tannins than the other 3 wines. A wine to drink now.
Overall for all three sets of wines, I selected the 2009 and the 2005 vintages as my favorites of the tasting. To me they had a good balance of all components, e.g. fruit, acidity, oak, making a very harmonious wine. Enjoy!