Maison Louis Latour has over two centuries of Burgundian history. The Latour family themselves have been wine-growers since the 17th century, slowly building up a unique Domaine of 50 hectares (125 acres). Latour has 33 hectares of vineyards in Aloxe-Corton, where Château Corton Grancey is based. The beautiful Winery Corton Grancey was built in 1834 and was the first purpose-built winery in France. It is a prime example of great ingenuity and its five levels mean that cuvage can be carried out by gravity. Its cellars, embedded in the rock of Corton “Perrières” provide perfect ageing conditions.
The majority of Louis Latour’s Domaine vineyards are in Aloxe-Corton, the original home of the family. Here Latour owns 10.5 hectares (25 acres) of Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, one of the most famous white wines of Burgundy. They also own parts of Corton Clos de la Vigne au Saint Grand Cru, Corton Bressandes Grand Cru, Corton Les Chaumes Grand Cru, Corton Les Pougets Grand Cru, Corton Les Perrières Grand Cru, Corton Clos du Roi Grand Cru, Corton Les Grèves Grand Cru. They also own parts of the Premiers Crus “Les Chaillots”, “Les Founières” and “Les Guérets”. Furthermore, Latour owns parts of the vineyards of Chambertin, Romanée-Saint-Vivant and Chevalier-Montrachet “Les Demoiselles”.
Wines are made based on climate and terroir every year and Latour is very careful with the way in which they handle the winemaking. Louis Latour strives to embed the conditions of the terroir into their wine while respecting nature and tradition, which are the quintessence of Burgundy wine. Harvesting is usually carried out in mid-September. The key consideration when deciding the time of harvest time is the ripeness and condition of the grapes. At Maison Louis Latour the winemakers believe that 80% of the finished wine's quality is a result of work done in the vineyards. All of the red grapes are picked manually and harvested as late as possible.
The red wines of Domaine Louis Latour are still vinified and aged at the historical Winery Corton Grancey. Maison Louis Latour respects Burgundian traditions for the vinification of its red wines from the harvest to the final product. Only the finest grapes are selected and placed into traditional French oak vats for a short period of fermentation. Once fermentation is complete, the wine is drained from the vats. This is called free-run wine. All grape skins and pips are then removed manually and pressed gently by top of the range pneumatic pressing machines. The press wine is blended with the free-run wine and spends approximately 12 months in barrel. It undergoes three rackings to clear it of any deposit that may have collected. After bottling, the wine is allowed to settle for a further few months before distribution.
White wine vinification differs from the reds in that the grapes from the harvest go directly into the press. The pressed grape juice, called must, then undergoes a rapid fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The wine is transferred into French oak barrels where it continues to age for a period of approximately 12 months. The wine undergoes rackings before the final blending.
The Ardèche: In 1979 Louis Latour chose the valley of the Ardèche River with its clay and limestone-based soils as the ideal location to produce top-quality Chardonnay wines. Here, Louis Latour produces Chardonnay d’Ardèche as well as the Grand Ardèche, which is treated as if it were grown in one of the Grand Cru vineyards of the Côte-d'Or. Only the ripest grapes are used and fermentation and aging take place in oak barrels from the Louis Latour cooperage. Furthermore, after the success with these wines, Maison Louis Latour became interested in planting the Viognier grape variety on Ardèche soils and in the original blend that could be made with Chardonnay. The "Duet” wine is unique because the two different grapes are fermented together. In addition, Latour also produces a wine made on purely Viognier, which is produced from hand-picked grapes carefully vinified in Latour's Ardèche winery on the outskirts of the village of Alba-la-Romaine.
The Var - Domaine de Valmoissine: Louis Latour decided to produce a Pinot noir in the Var region with the aim of producing an affordable top quality Pinot noir. The Coteaux de Verdon is in the far south-east of France based around the town of Aups. Aups owes its fame to being the truffle-hunting capital of Provence. Domaine de Valmoissine is located on the site of the ancient monastery and university of Valmoissine at 500 metres above sea-level. This guarantees sunshine during the summer months while remaining cool at night and limits the possibility of spring frosts. The grapes are fermented in open stainless steel vats for a short period of 4–5 days.
Corton-Charlemagne is a Grand Cru from the hill of Corton in the Côte de Beaune. It is one of the flagship wines of Maison Louis Latour. This vineyard is close to the famous "Clos Charlemagne" which was the property of the Emperor Charlemagne until 775. The word “Corton” is a contraction of “Curtis Othonis” which means “domain of Othon”, an emperor descended from Charlemagne.
Paradoxically, it was the gravest crisis that the Burgundian vineyard ever knew that caused the birth of this wine. The limestone rich soil at the top of the hillside had been ignored before Louis Latour – the 7th generation of Latour – decided to plant Chardonnay instead of the Aligoté that had been killed by the Phylloxera, a deadly insect. As homage, his signature still graces the Corton-Charlemagne label today. The Latour family owns 11 hectares of this gem; hence they are the biggest owner in the appellation. Situated at the summit of the hill of Corton, where one can also find the winery of Louis Latour, the vineyards reach a perfect maturity thanks to their southern exposure. They are overseen by the cross of Charlemagne, a monument given by the Hospices de Beaune in 1943 to Louis-Noël Latour.
Château Corton Grancey
The hill of Corton has been known for more than a millennium for the quality of its “terroirs” and perfect orientation. To honour the Maison’s rich history, the flagship “Château Corton Grancey” Grand Cru is made, which is entirely unique to Louis Latour and is only produced in the best vintages. It is a blend of four areas of Domaine Latour Corton Grand Cru: Les Bressandes, Les Perrières, Les Grèves and Clos du Roi. After aging individually, only the best barrels are assembled to create the Château Corton Grancey.
The word “Corton” is a contraction of “Curtis Othonis” which means “domain of Othon”, an emperor descended from Charlemagne. “Grancey” was the name of the last owners of the chateau situated on the road of Corton, before the Latour family bought it in 1891.
Chambertin Grand Cru «Cuvée Héritiers Latour»
Chambertin is a Grand Cru from the Côte de Nuits. This vineyard has been cultivated since the 7th century by the monks of Bèze Abbey. The name Chambertin comes from a peasant called Bertin (Berht-in, means son of Berht) who planted the vines in one of his fields next to the Clos de Bèze. The name “Field of Bertin (Champ de Bertin)” was adopted for the parcel and was kept even after the death of the peasant. Chambertin was the favourite wine of Napoleon 1st, even on the battlefield. Alexander Dumas also mentions it in his famous book The Three Muskateers « Nothing makes the world looks rosier than to contemplate it through a glass of Chambertin. ».
At the end of the 19th century the Latour family acquired 0.81 hectares in the Chambertin Grand Cru appellation, forming a beautiful parcel extending from the top to the bottom of the hillside, closer to that of Latricières-Chambertin rather than Clos de Bèze. The terroir of Chambertin is legendary for its exceptional richness due to a geological phenomenon called "alluvial fan”. This deeply complex terroir is characterized by brown calcareous soils. It breeds a powerful and complex wine with a long ageing potential, combining the robustness of Pinot noir and the taste of the "terroir".
Romanée-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru «Les Quatre Journaux»
Romanée-Saint-Vivant is a Grand Cru from the Côte de Nuits. This appellation carries the name of the priory of Saint-Vivant, the monks were the first to cultivate the vineyards around Vosne-Romanée. The land has been known for centuries for its exceptional characteristics.
The Latour family has been proprietors of a part of Romanée-Saint-Vivant since December 1898. Fabled vines acquired from the heirs of the Marey-Monge and Larey families, Les Quatre Journaux is a magnificent plot of land situated at the South-West of Romanée Saint Vivant, a few meters from the Romanée-Conti vineyard. Today Maison Louis Latour owns 0.8 hectares of Romanée-Saint-Vivant. It offers a marvelously aromatic wine, with a velvety texture which culminates in a persistent and powerful finish in the mouth.
Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru «Les Demoiselles»
Chevalier-Montrachet is a Grand Cru in the Côte de Beaune. The name Montrachet is a derivation of the names Mont Rachaz (1252), Mont Rachat (1380) the Montrachat (1473). This evolution highlights why we say Mont-rachet and not Mon-tra-chet. In old French “la râche” means “bald”, etymologically speaking Montrachet therefore means “bald mountain because of its lack of vegetation. In the middle ages the Lord of Puligny passed down a vineyard to his eldest son the ‘Chevalier’ (Knight), who left France to fight in the crusades, hence the name of the appellation ‘Chevalier-Montrachet’.
The terroir of Chevalier-Montrachet is of notable exception because its brown soils, usually reserved for planting Pinot noir on, transform Chardonnay into one of the greatest dry white wines in the world. Chevalier-Montrachet sits higher up the same hillside as the Montrachet appellation, producing arguably one of the best white wines in the world. In 1913 Domaine Louis LATOUR purchased this 0,51 hectare vineyard from the widow of Léonce Bocquet, who initiated renovations of a part of the Clos de Vougeot. This vineyard carries the name "Les Demoiselles" in hommage to the daughters of an early 19th-century Beaune General, Adèle and Julie Voillot, who were the owners of the vineyard and who died without marrying.