A Vertical Tasting of Maison Louis Latour’s Grand Cru’s

The vast majority of wine consumers buy wine to consume that day, that week, or if we are particularly disciplined, that month.  As we transition from casual consumers to learned connoisseurs, we tend to remain victims of habit and submit to instant gratification.  Patience might be a virtue and good things may come to those who wait but the pace of our everyday lives doesn’t always afford such luxuries.  Unless, of course, a catalyst for change presents itself.  A Vertical Tasting.

At this year’s Boston Wine Expo, I attended the very popular Corton Charlemagne and Corton Grancey tasting.  A fan of Burgundian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, I just couldn’t ignore the opportunity to compare these gems, no matter the time (11:00am).

The tasting was hosted by Bernard Retournaz, President of Louis Latour, with special guests Sandy Block and Michael Apstein.  Michael was even kind enough to offer a 1998 Corton Charlemagne from his private cellar.

First up: Corton Charlemagne (2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 1998)

All of the Charlemagne are fermented with natural yeast and undergo malolactic fermentation.  The 2005 was still a bit tight with vanilla oak, apple, and spice notes and will benefit from more cellar time.  The 2004 exhibited less fruit and more oak but was well structured and balanced.  The more aged 2003 and 2002 have begun to offer more creaminess even though the 2002 may have been experiencing a “dumb”period.  The pièce de résistance, the 1998, was ripe and round with a long finish.  Sandy couldn’t resist a plug for Legal Seafood and recommended a pairing with steamed lobster.  I don’t think any of us would have protested.

Next up: Corton Grancey (2005, 2002, 1999, 1996)

The Grancey is only made in exceptional years which makes a vertical tasting a special treat.  The young 2005 was dominated by red fruit and floral aromas and a bit astringent.  The fruit in the 2002 was less prevalent, replaced by vanilla and gamey characters.  The tannins were subdued while still offering good acidity.  The personality of the 1999, perhaps due to undergoing a “closed” period, exhibited very little fruit and lower acidity. The 1996 demonstrated the age-worthiness of these wines with its smooth, velvety texture and long finish.

A Vertical Tasting gives you the opportunity to experience patience without having to exhibit any.  But buyer beware.  If you are like me, you’ll be drafting your wine cellar plans on your way home.

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