Late Releases from Latour and Yquem, 2022
It is hardly news that Château Latour has not released any wines en primeur for some time now. Indeed, looking back through my old updates, I see the first time I reported on the late-release wines from this Pauillac first growth was in April 2013, when I was in Bordeaux to taste the 2012 Bordeaux barrel samples. Having recently returned from tasting the 2021 Bordeaux vintage, this means that ten vintages have now passed since they took the decision to withdraw.
When it was revealed that Château Latour would be withdrawing from en primeur sales it caused quite a stir. I don’t know why the en primeur system gets critics of Bordeaux so worked up; it seems like there is always somebody waiting in the wings ready to trumpet the impending demise of primeur sales, and the withdrawal of Château Latour naturally gave them a little more ammunition. Ten years on, however, and the predictions of doom do not seem to have been made real. The en primeur system continues on, even if it does seem to limp along sometimes. And with no sign of wavering from Frédéric Engerer and his team, the decision to shift from primeur sales to a rolling programme of late releases is presumably working out for Château Latour. Fancy that.
Perhaps this is why there was little or no reaction to the decision taken by the team at Château d’Yquem, announced a year or two ago, to similarly withdraw from en primeur sales. Admittedly this decision did not precede the institution of a late-release programme, and in truth the estate has a track record of holding off on releasing their wines for release after they have been bottled, which is the current schema. In addition, however, unlike the practice at Château Latour where visitors during the primeurs can still taste the latest vintage, the wine is not offered for tasting as a barrel sample, so the quality and style essentially remains a secret until the wine is finally bottled.