Louis Latour on Burgundy negociants
This show was published 27 July 2007
The Latour family have been operating for over 200 years and have been negociants since the middle of the 19th century. Maison Louis Latour is one of the most highly-respected negociants in Burgundy.
So what is a negociant? Put simply, a negociant is a successful wine grower and in Burgundy there are 60-70 of them, producing two thirds of the crop. Louis Latour is president of the negociant's trade body. A negociant gets to choose vintages, villages and growers that they like and make the wine in their own style. Maison Latour is also the biggest owner of grand cru vineyards.
Mostly they have long term contracts with growers for Chardonnay because every year is a good year but with reds where the grape quality is less consistent they somethimes have to say no to growers - the power of a negotiants is to say no.
In not such good years they may declassify the grapes but this practice is less now than in the 1980's. In recent years, Burgundy has an exceptional run of good vintages. Global warming has brought forward the harvest - 20 years ago they used to pick in early October whereas now it is around the 15th-20th September. Louis thinks that with the warmer climate negociants should focus on keeping acidity and avoiding over ripe grapes that produce high alcohol wines. The acidity is what separates Burgundy from their new world counterparts.
Maison Latour focus is on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and not on other regions or varieties although they do produce wines from the Ardèche and the Côteaux de Verdon.
The best Burgundy vintages for drinking now are 2004 for white 2001 for red wine.
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