Pauillac - Francois Pinault
Château Latour is a French wine estate, rated as a First Growth under the 1855 Bordeaux Classification, owned by Groupe Artemis. Latour lies at the very southeastern tip of the commune of Pauillac in the Médoc region to the north-west of Bordeaux, at its border with Saint-Julien, and only a few hundred metres from the banks of the Gironde estuary.
Château Latour has played an important role in the region's history. Knowledge of the past is valuable in helping us to understand the property's current reputation. Fortunately, numerous archives have been preserved over the centuries enabling us to establish an accurate picture of the past. This unique heritage shows us an extraordinary stability and continuity in the life of the property and those who have worked there during its long history, which has no doubt been an important factor in the exceptional regularity and quality of the wines.
The oldest document mentioning Latour dates from 1331 and is an authorization granted to Gaucelme de Castillon by Lord Pons to build a fortified tower in the parish of Saint Maubert. Château Latour then appears in the Jean Froissart's « Chronicles » in 1378. This was the time of the Hundred Years War and the « Tour de Saint Maubert » was a fortress to guard the estuary, manned by Breton soldiers for the King of France. After a three-day siege, the Anglo-Gascon army seized the fortress and installed a garrison.
Latour was a jointly held lord's domain until the end of the 16th century, whose co-owners received rents from the farmers who cultivated the land. At that time, the property was not entirely covered by vines and yet production largely exceeded requirements. There was no proper storage for the wine and it had to be drunk within the year. The estate remained in the hands of the Mullet family until the late 17th century, and while direct use of the land gradually replaced the leasing system, the wine-making situation changed very little.
As a result of successive marriages and inheritances, Château Latour became the property of Alexandre de Ségur, who quickly acquired a considerable collection of properties in the Médoc. The château's real wine history began with the arrival of this family. Just before his death in 1716, Alexandre de Ségur acquired Château Lafite. His son, Nicolas-Alexandre, was dubbed the « Prince of the Vines » by Louis XV. President of the Parliament of Bordeaux, he further enlarged the family's estates in 1718 with the acquisition of plots from Mouton and Calon.
In the years since 1993, under the leadership of François Pinault, significant changes have been made with a view to upholding Château Latour's pursuit of excellence in the wines that it produces. In 1998, Frédéric Engerer, who joined the estate early in 1995, was appointed Manager. Major works started in November 1999 and continued until September 2003. A total renovation of the winery, vat room, wine making facilities and storage areas enabled even greater precision in the production of the wines. A new technical team was also created. In 2012, we undertook further work to enlarge the workspace and create a new ageing cellar, following the decision to no longer sell the Château’s wines en primeur.
The estate has 78 hectares of vineyard, of which a 47-hectare portion near the château is named l'Enclos, where fruit exclusive to the grand vin is grown. The composition of grape varieties is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, and 2% of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The grand vin Chateau Latour, typically a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, with the remainder Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, normally has an annual production of 18,000 cases.
Château Latour’s Grand Vin is made exclusively from “vieilles vignes”, an average of 60 years-old, in the Enclos. Gravettes, Sarmentier, Pièce de Château... these are the names of some of the finest plots that express the character of the terroir and forge the wine’s identity every year.
The estate produces three red wines in all. In addition to its Grand vin, Latour has also produced the second wine Les Forts de Latour since 1966, and a third wine, simply named Pauillac, has been released every year since 1990. An impériale (six-litre bottle) of Château Latour sold for £135,000 in 2011.