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Latour’s next releases announced

First growth Château Latour is to release its 2003 grand vin and the 2008 vintage of its second wine, Les Forts de Latour later this month – has it learnt anything from past releases?

Since quitting the en primeur system in 2012 following the campaign for the 2011 vintage, Latour has instead restricted itself to an annual re-release of recent vintages around 20 March, ahead of the futures campaign and another small release of older vintages in September.

The first set of releases in 2013 of the 1995 grand vin and 2005 Forts were released with respective premiums of 19% and 10% on the market price.

Merchants and buyers were left unimpressed however and the trade called the price “too high”.

Similarly, when the 2004 grand vin and 2006 Forts were released last year with respective premiums of 23% and 6% on the market price, the news was greeted with “deathly silence”.

Then, in September last year, Latour re-released its 1996, 2001 and 2002 vintages. The wines still carried a premium but it was significantly less than anything seen before and was in line with the release of Forts 2007 in September 2013.

Unfortunately for Latour, the wines emerged as many merchants were pushing their 2011 allocations of Solaia and Masseto and so the wines and opportunity were somewhat lost.

With the market showing some improvement, despite a 0.4% decline on the Liv-ex Fine Wine 100 in February and Bordeaux returning to favour, there may be some interest in two vintages that are ready for drinking, especially the 2003s.

Interestingly, Latour’s 2005 topped the Fine Wine 100 in February, rising 10.9% to £6,792 a case although this is probably more to do with the current popularity of the 2005 vintage at the moment.

Also rising in February were the 2005 vintages of Palmer and Cos d’Estournel. The wine world is waiting for Robert Parker’s 10 year retrospective of the vintage and many are expecting a hike in scores – and prices – as a result. With the 05 Latour currently sitting on 96-points, a wine of its pedigree could easily see a revision elevate it to 98-points.

Interestingly, Latour, Mouton and Lafite are all sitting on 96 Parker points as of 1 March 2008 (Wine Advocate #176), while Haut-Brion and Margaux are rated 98 and are cheaper than Lafite and Latour though not Mouton which is the least costly per case of all the 2005 wines from the five first growths.

But, to return to Latour’s re-releases, as the drinks business reported at the time of the last September release: “Latour’s experiment may be proving tougher than expected for the estate and the latest release [1996] may be a sign it knows buyers will not be swayed by its first growth aura.

“It will not be until previously unreleased vintages – 2012 and onwards – begin to emerge that asking for a premium will start to hold any water.”

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