1950 Château Latour Grand Vin Pauillac Wine Tasting Note

  1. 1950 Château Latour Grand Vin (Pauillac)

    1. It is always a treat to taste perfectly mature, older Bordeaux, especially when it is a vintage of Latour, I have never tasted. Medium bodied, refined, soft and with that great blend of forest floor, cedar wood, tobacco, wet earth and spicy, clean, red fruits. The wine seems to have exchanged power with charm. I wish the finish was a bit longer, but this was still a treat.

      90 points - Tasted
Latour stone sky Wine Tasting Notes, Ratings

Chateau Latour Vineyards, Terroir, Grapes, Winemaking

The 90 hectare Latour vineyard has 78 hectares cultivated with vines. The vineyard of Chateau Latour is planted to 74.2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23.8 Merlot, 1.8% Cabernet Franc and .02% Petit Verdot. This is a slight change in the vineyard makeup as the amount of Cabernet Sauvignon has been decreased, Petit Verdot is almost invisible and more Merlot has been planted in the vineyards.

The Cabernet Franc has also been reduced over the years.

However, it is imperative to understand that the heart and soul of the Chateau Latour vineyard, located close to the Chateau is a 47 hectare parcel known as "Enclos". There are many people in Bordeaux that consider those 47 hectares to be the best terroir in all of Bordeaux.

The 47 hectares of vines in the Enclos vineyard remains almost unchanged since 1794. Only grapes sourced from Enclos are used to produce the Grand Vin of Chateau Latour. When you delve deeper into the soils of the Enclos, you find diversity.

To the north and south, the soils have more clay and marl. In the center of Enclos, which is close to the chateau, you unearth more deep gravel and clay. This is the section that provides the power, grace and depth of Chateau Latour. The powerful tannins often come from vines planted closer to edge of the Enclos.

It is the blending of all these parcels that provide the brilliance of the wine here. Overall, the vineyard of Chateau Latour offers elevations and gentle slopes, easy access to water, due to its close proximity to the Gironde and a terroir of gravel, marl and clay soils with deep deposits of limestone in the soil.

Underneath the top soil, you find more gravel, with some clay and sand. The gravel at Latour can run from between 4 to 5 meters deep. The elevations are close to 14 meters at its peak.

One can actually divide the soils of Chateau Latour into three distinctive types, large gravel stones, smaller gravel rocks or pebbles and clay. Of course it's the gravel soils that are perfect for Cabernet Sauvignon. But Chateau Latour has a type of clay in their terroir that is incredibly dense called "Argile Gonflante".

You can also divide the Latour vineyard into 3 main parcels, with the largest section placed closest to the chateau, abutting Leoville Las Cases to the south. The Comtesse de Lalande parcel is placed between Pauillac and St. Julien and they own another parcel, Petit Batailley, which is just slightly further inland as is Pinada.

They also own vines in a block known as Ste-Anne, which is due west, as well as 8 hectares of vines in a parcel known as Artigues, that is used for their third wine.

However, it is important to note that the majority of the Latour vineyards are located to the right of the D2 Highway, providing it better access to the river, which gives it a unique micro-climate. Another important distinction is that the vineyards of Chateau Latour have more slopes with various elevations than any of the other First Growths.

The terroir is deep gravel based soils with some clay found in the sub soils. Most of the Merlot planted at Chateau Latour resides in the lower parcels of the Enclos section where the gravel layers are not as prominent, nor as deep.

In that section of the vineyard, the marls and clay layers are more apparent in the soil. The small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot in the vines are more likely field blends as they are found inside the vines of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. On average, the vines are about 40 years of age.

But Chateau Latour is fortunate to have old vines as well. Some of the oldest vines at Chateau Latour are over 100 years of age. Those vines, which are all Cabernet Sauvignon, are in a small parcel known as Le Sarmentier. The vineyard is planted to a vine density of 10,000 vines per hectare.

Chateau Latour is fortunate to have old vines as well, some of which are close to 100 years of age. The vineyard is planted to a vine density of 10,000 vines per hectare.

Currently, Chateau Latour is experimenting with biodynamic farming techniques and sustainable farming in some of their plots. In fact, the number of hectares bio dynamically farmed has been steadily increased over the past few years.

As of 2013, 24 hectares were being farmed using biodynamic techniques while 7 hectares are organically farmed. Starting in 2008, Chateau Latour began using horses to churn the soils in select parcels of vines. Currently 7 horses are used to work the Enclos vineyard. Sustainable farming is stressed at Chateau Latour.

In fact, to traverse the vineyards, workers often use mountain bikes, to avoid polluting the soils. Starting with the 2015 vintage, the entire Enclos vineyard is farmed using 100% organic techniques and 50% of the vines are being farmed using biodynamic techniques. This means that to fight disease, they rely on a myriad of different plants, copper and sulfur, which are all found in nature. All fertilizers 100% organic.

The best vintages of Chateau Latour are: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1996, 1995, 1990, 1982, 1975, 1971, 1970, 1966, 1964, 1962, 1961, 1959, 1955, 1953, 1949, 1948, 1945, 1934, 1929, 1928, 1926, 1921 and 1900.

Chateau Latour has an almost unequaled track record for producing stunning wines that age and evolve for decades, if not generations. While mature vintages of Chateau Latour sell for a lot of money, if you have the disposable income, and want to experience the greatness of an older, mature First Growth, this is the wine to buy.

Chateau Latour Winemaking

To produce the wine of Chateau Latour, vinification takes place in 80 temperature controlled, stainless steel vats that vary in size from as small as 12 hectoliters up to 164 hectoliters. This range in vat sizes and capacities allows for true, precise, parcel by parcel vinification.

The decision as to what specific grape variety or parcel goes into each vat depends on the age of the vines, the varietal and the specific location inside each individual parcel.

Malolactic fermentation takes place in vat. Since the cellars were last renovated in 2001, everything in the cellar moves by gravity flow. Chateau Latour is aged in 100% new, French oak barrels, while Les Forts de Latour is aged in 50% new, French oak barrels.

There is a second wine, Les Forts de Latour, which comes from the young vines of the Grand Enclos. The vines used to produce Les Forts de Latour are most often at least 12 years of age. Les Forts de Latour made its debut in 1966. However, before 1990, it was only made in a few vintages. Since 1990, Les Forts de Latour has been produced in every vintage and offered for sale as a future.

There is also a third wine, Le Pauillac de Chateau Latour. Le Pauillac de Chateau Latour is produced from grapes that were deemed not good enough to be placed in Les Forts de Latour. Chateau Latour was the first property to produce a third Bordeaux wine. This practice was started at some point in the 1970's. While still not common, today, other properties are following in their lead in both banks.

Today, the production of Chateau Latour ranges depending on the vintage and its character. Considering the massive amount of demand, not much is made. On average, between 10,000 and 12,000 cases per year are produced of Chateau Latour Grand Vin, which represents about 37% of the production from the harvest.

Production of Chateau Latour has been intentionally declining over the years and the quality, concentration and complexity has been increasing, along with the price.

To give you an idea of what has been taking place, the 2000 vintage was the last time Chateau Latour had a large production. In that vintage 15,000 cases were produced. Since that time, production has ranged. For example, in 2003, production was 10,800 cases, 2005 saw 12,000 cases and in 2010 close to 11,000 cases were produced of Chateau Latour.

When to Drink Chateau Latour, Anticipated Maturity, Decanting Time

Chateau Latour is not a wine to drink on the young side. The wine is usually far too tannic, powerful and reserved during its youth. Young vintages can be decanted for an average of 3-6 hours, give or take. This allows the wine to soften and open its perfume. Older vintages might need very little decanting, just enough to remove the sediment.

Chateau Latour is usually better with at least 15 years of bottle age. Of course that can vary slightly, depending on the vintage character. Chateau Latour offers its best drinking and should reach peak maturity between 18 and 60 years of age after the vintage.

Serving Chateau Latour with Wine and Food Pairings

Chateau Latour is best served at 15.5 degrees Celsius, 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The cool, almost cellar temperature gives the wine more freshness and lift.

Chateau Latour is best paired with all types of classic meat dishes, veal, pork, beef, lamb, duck, game, roast chicken, roasted, braised and grilled dishes. Chateau Latour is also good when matched with Asian dishes, rich fish courses like tuna, mushrooms and pasta.

In 2011, Chateau Latour added to their holdings in Pauillac when they purchased the 4 hectare vineyard of Chateau La Becasse from the Fonteneau family. The vines are used for the production of Forts de Latour.

Chateau Latour became one of the first major Bordeaux chateau to embrace anti counterfeiting measures with the use of the Prooftag system which is in place on the label, bottle and capsule of all future and current releases.

In 2015, Chateau Latour completed renovations which included new offices, tasting rooms and cellars. In fact, Chateau Latour became the first estate in the Medoc to maintain a cellar solely devoted to keeping magnums and other large format bottling's dating back to 1900. The new cellars were a necessity as they allowed Latour to retain vast stocks of wines, for later releases.

The Pinault family also own other wineries through their holding company the Artemis Group. In Burgundy, they own Domaine d’Eugenie, previously known as Domaine Rene Engel. The vines are located in the Vosne Romanee appellation in the Cote de Nuits. Late 2017, marked another addition to their holdings in Burgundy when they purchased Clos de Tart for a record setting price of more than 30 Million Euros per hectare!

In the Northern Rhone Valley they own Chateau Grillet, which prior to their recent sale had been owned by the same family since 1830!

In July 2013, the family added to their list of vineyards with the purchase of Araujo Estate wines, in the Napa Valley. Araujo has since been renamed Eisele Vineyards. The following year, in 2014, The Artemis Group made their first purchase in the Right Bank, when they invested in Chateau Vray Croix de Gay, Pomerol, Chateau Siaurac, which is located in the Lalande de Pomerol appellation and Chateau Le Prieure in St. Emilion.