This week saw the latest round of releases from Château Latour, an annual event which has preceded the primeur tastings ever since Latour announced its withdrawal from primeur sales back in 2012.
The 2019 releases are restricted to just two wines, with none of the third wine selected for release at this time. The two wines are the 2008 Château Latour (£5,100 per 12) and the 2013 Les Forts de Latour (£1,650 per 12). The release price of the grand vin is at an 11% premium to that already on the market, continuing a practice established in prior releases. This premium reflects provenance, and the wine is still priced well below other currently available and more successful vintages such as 2005, 2003, 2009 and 2010. I retasted the 2008 Château Latour just last year, giving it a score of 96/100; while the vintage overall does not have a great reputation, the 2008 from Château Latour is a superb effort. I suspect, with the well-judged 11% premium, this will sell quite well. Not like hot cakes, admittedly, but it should certainly do better than last year’s release, the 2006 grand vin, which came with a much higher percentage premium.
As for the 2013 Les Forts de Latour, nobody needs reminding what a washout vintage this was. When I tasted the 2013 second wine back in April 2014 it was a decent effort for the vintage, although I could not stretch beyond a provisional barrel-sample score of 14-15/20 (it was back when I was still scoring out of 20). I haven’t tasted it since, but will hopefully do so when I visit Château Latour this April. Regardless of how it shows, however, it is difficult to imagine anything from the 2013 vintage flying out the door at the price asked here.
In the meantime, while I head out to taste the 2018 barrel samples from Château Latour next week, it will be years before any of these newest wines makes it to market based on the property’s late-release system. With some releases over the year’s having been met with a rather luke-warm response, I have often wondered for how long Château Latour would remain outside the primeur system. It must be a challenge to watch successful primeur sales pass you by and to rely solely on later, much more expensive sales of mature wines. I suspect the well-judged and hopefully successful release of the 2008 vintage will strengthen the team’s fortitude.