Château Latour, 2017 Releases

The annual release of maturing wines from the cellars of Château Latour is fast becoming something of a tradition, another landmark in the annual wine calendar. The château withdrew from en primeur releases in 2013, making the 2011 vintage the last one to have been sold in this manner. From the 2012 vintage onwards the wines have been held in stock and only released when the team felt they were ready for the market. And with the passing of the 2016 en primeur campaign, it is now five years (or five vintages, anyway) since Frédéric Engerer and his team committed Château Latour to this new method of selling.

Despite the wines not being sold en primeur, they are still made available for tasting at the château at this time. At first glance this might seem curious. After all, if you aren’t putting the wines up for sale, why bother to facilitate independent review, with all the criticism and scores that naturally involves? I think there are perhaps two reasons. First, it is an indicator that there is a lot more to en primeur than just selling wine by score. The annual en primeur campaign allows Bordeaux to dominate fine-wine communication for a few months, the region thus reminding everybody – merchants, courtiers, traders and drinkers alike – of its preeminent position in the world of wine. If I were running Château Latour, I too would want to be a part of that, even if my own wines weren’t for sale.

Château Latour

Secondly, with hundreds of visitors eager to taste every example of the latest vintage in existence, they will want to visit Château Latour to taste theirs. And while we are there, a captive audience tasting the 2016 vintage (my notes on these are presented in my 2016 Pauillac report), we are of course also presented with the late-release wines, which certainly are for sale. And so here, for the fifth year running, is my trio of tasting notes on the latest wines to be released by the château under the late-release system.

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