It’s not every day you get to taste a wine that sells for more than $2000 a bottle.
That’s what you can expect to pay for the 2009 Chateau Latour, one of the famous First Growths of Bordeaux — if you can find a bottle.
Latour president Frederic Engerer didn’t bring the 2009 with him to Perth this week — fortunately I did taste it at the chateau in 2010 — but he had a more than adequate alternative, the great 2000, which would cost much more.
My notes in brief on the 2000: Powerful and intense. Sweet and rich with a mix of blackcurrant, minerals and bitter chocolate. Silky tannins and such length and persistence. Seriously bloody good.
Mr Engerer was in Perth for two high roller special tastings at Crown Perth. As a very low roller journo, I couldn’t make those events.
If you are in the market for Chateau Latour, I have good and bad news.
The good. In the wake of the famous Bordeaux First Growth Chateau Latour pulling out of the traditional en primeur system of wine futures, future releases of Chateau Latour will be released when the chateau believes they are ready to drink. Mind you, given the wines live for 40 or more years in many cases, even if they are ready to drink, your kids will be encouraging your purchases.
The bad. If you are one of the few Australians who can afford to buy Latour, you will have to wait at least until 2019 before you can get your hands on the 2012.
And despite taking the middle man out of the equation, with their 15 per cent cut of the action, it is not going to result in lower prices.
Recent prices have been crazy, with the 2009 and 2010 vintages selling for $2000 a bottle.
Still, with just 40 to 50 cases a year coming into Australia it’s probably not going to be an issue for many people.
The one saving grace is that unlike in Australia, the price of wines from poorer vintages generally fall significantly, a fact Mr Engerer was quick to point out when the issue of excessive prices was raised.
Mr Engerer said that the decision was purely for the customer.
“We have been told for years that our wines, because of the negociant en primeur system, have been released too young, so now we are going to release them when we think they are starting to drink well,” he said.
He admits the decision, which others are yet to follow, caused a stir in Bordeaux.In Perth, retailer Michael Tamburi said that demand for First Growth Bordeaux such as Latour had declined a few years ago with the rise in prices, and buyers had shifted to better value wines from the Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Growth Bordeaux producers.