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Chateau Latour 2010
The aromas of flowers such as roses, violets and lilacs jump from the glass then turn to dark berries such as blueberries and blackberries. It's full-bodied, with velvety tannins and dense and intense with a chocolate, berry and currant character. This is juicy and rich with wood still showing a bit, but it's all coming together wonderfully. Muscular yet toned. Another perfect wine like the 2010. Try in 2022.
One of the perfect wines of the vintage, Frederic Engerer challenged me when I tasted the 2010 Latour at the estate, asking, “If you rate the 2009 one hundred, then how can this not be higher?” Well, the scoring system stops at 100, (and has for 34 years,) and will continue for as long as I continue to write about wine. Nevertheless, this blend of 90.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.5% Merlot, and .5% Petit Verdot hit 14.4% natural alcohol and represents a tiny 36% of their entire production. The pH is about 3.6, which is normal compared to the 3.8 pH of the 2009, that wine being slightly lower in alcohol, hence the combination that makes it more flamboyant and accessible. The 2010 is a liquid skyscraper in the mouth, building layers upon layers of extravagant, if not over-the-top richness with its hints of subtle charcoal, truffle, blackberry, cassis, espresso and notes of toast and graphite. Full-bodied, with wonderfully sweet tannin, it is a mind-boggling, prodigious achievement that should hit its prime in about 15 years, and last for 50 to 100.
Unbelievably pure, with distilled cassis and plum fruit that cuts a very precise path, while embers of anise, violet and black cherry confiture form a gorgeous backdrop. A bedrock of graphite structure should help this outlive other 2010s. Powerful, sleek and incredibly long. Not perfect, but very close. Best from 2020 through 2050.
Stern, almost severe initially, this great wine takes time to show its immense fruit power. Black currant and blackberry notes are packed into the wine, along with an impressive array of spices from new wood that gives a more exotic element. At the end, though, it has a fine, structured sense of proportion. Obviously for aging over decades, so don't drink before 2022. Cellar Selection.
The reputation of Château Latour was consolidated during the 19th century. It was confirmed in 1855, when the government of Napoléon III decided to classify the growths of the Médoc and the Graves for the International Exhibition in Paris: Château Latour was classified as a First Growth. The existing château was built during this "Golden Age", between 1862 and 1864.
One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production and tourism, the Napa Valley is the AVA that brought worldwide recognition to California winemaking. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two are St.-Helena and the valley's newest AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap District, and Mt. Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
One of the most difficult yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is commonly referred to by winemakers as the “heartbreak grape.” However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. More reflective than most varieties of the land on which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality, and demands care in the vineyard and lots of attention in the winery. It is an important component of Champagne and the only variety permitted in red Burgundy. Pinot Noir enjoys immense popularity internationally, most notably in Oregon, California, and New Zealand.
In the Glass
Pinot Noir Is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and lively acidity. It ranges in body from very light to the heavier side of medium, typically landing somewhere in the middle—giving it extensive possibilities for food pairing. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount), it can develop hauntingly beautiful characteristics of fresh earth, autumn leaves, and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon, ocean trout, and tuna. Its mild mannered tannins don’t fight with spicy food, and give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry—chicken, quail, and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, it can even match with heavier fare. Pinot Noir is also very vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
Pinot Noir is dangerously drinkable, highly addictive, and has a bad habit of emptying the wallet. Look for affordable but still delicious examples from Germany (as Spätburgunder), Italy (as Pinot Nero), Chile, New Zealand, and France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions.