Louis Latour to realise Beaujolais potential

Maison Louis Latour has stepped up its investment in Beaujolais with a new domaine, a new Gamay blend and plans to plant up to 50 hectares of Pinot Noir.

Louis Latour Bourgogne Gamay

Taking advantage of a new appellation, Louis Latour has launched Bourgogne Gamay – a blend of Beaujolais crus with 15% Pinot Noir from Burgundy

The Burgundy négociant bought the 18-hectare Fleurie property Château des Labourons in October last year, following Louis Latour’s acquisition of Beaujolais producer Maison Henry Fessy in January 2008, while the Beaune-based business is also taking advantage of new appellations Coteaux Bourguignons and Bourgogne Gamay, both introduced to the Beaujolais region in 2012.

Speaking to the drinks business last week, Louis Latour sales director Bruno Pépin stressed his belief in the potential for crus, Gamay, and Pinot Noir from Beaujolais, particularly now increasing demand for red Burgundy is pushing up grape prices.

“We bought Henry Fessy four years ago because we know the Beaujolais region, we believe in its potential, most of all in the potential of the crus, and Beaujolais is a relatively cheap investment at the moment.”

In terms of land prices in the region, Pépin said that a single hectare of vineyard in one of the 10 Beaujolais crus cost between €40,000 for a site in Régnié to €120,000 for a hectare in Fleurie or the best parts of Moulin à Vent.

On average, he explained that land prices were 10 times cheaper than the Côte d’Or, with the least expensive vineyard in “any Burgundy village selling for €500,000”.

As for retail prices for the wine produced from these sites, Pépin recorded, “There was a time when the best crus [from Beaujolais] sold at the same price as Pommard Premier Cru or Clos de Vougeot.”

Louis Latour now own 80 hectares in Beaujolais according to Pépin, who explained that the Burgundy négociant was planning to acquire land in every Beaujolais cru.

“Instead of a single estate, we prefer to offer a complete range,” he said, noting that beyond Georges Duboeuf, and, to a lesser extent, Henry Fessy and Louis Tête, there are few local specialists.

Indeed, referring to rival Burgundy négociant’s investments in Beaujolais, he said a more common approach was to create one wine from one appellation.

“Louis Jadot has Château de Jacques, and Bouchard Père et Fils has Villa Ponciago, but we prefer for Henry Fessy to be seen as specialists of the crus de Beaujolais.”

He also said that Louis Latour has worked on a tiering of its Beaujolais offer to include, from lowest to highest prices, Beaujolais, Beaujolais Villages, Beaujolais Crus, and then a château range (following its recent acquisition) and finally a single vineyard selection, encompassing sites in Moulin à Vent, Brouilly and “hopefully” in Morgon in the future.

Louis Latour is further taking advantage of Beaujolais’ inexpensive land prices and favourable terroir by planting Pinot Noir, as previously reported by the drinks business.

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