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Louis-Fabrice Latour dies aged 58

Louis-Fabrice Latour, who had managed Maison Louis Latour since 1999, died on Monday night from cancer.

Image credit: Twitter user BourgogneWines

He was the 11th generation to lead the historic Beaune-based négociant, taking over from his father, Louis Latour (who died in 2016, aged 83) 23 years ago, having joined the family business in 1989 after a stint at Paribas. During his time as CEO he expanded the company’s holdings according to Wine Spectator, including the acquisition of Simonnet-Febvre in Chablis in 2003 and in recent years he increased Maison Louis Latour’s activities in Beaujolais.

It has also been noted that he acknowledged Burgundy’s need to adapt to climate change: “To adapt our viticulture to this new challenge, we have to go up in altitude or go north”. Indeed, he oversaw the revival of Auxois, north of Dijon, as a winemaking region, offering new wines under the Simonnet-Febvre label from the IGP.

As an ambassador for Burgundy, he travelled extensively and relished the opportunity to explore the wine world in all its facets. Speaking with the drinks business in 2019, he said: “London is now a match for anywhere else in the world especially when it comes to the wine selection. The choice and variety is outstanding but so too is the passion of those who buy and serve the wines.”

In 2011, he received La Légion d’Honneur, just one of several awards given to him throughout a highly distinguished career.

His death has come as a shock to many. Fabrice Jacquet, administrative director of Maison Louis Latour, said: “It was very sudden, nobody expected it…The staff learned about it in the middle of the harvest this Tuesday morning, everyone collapsed, in tears. One of our family…He was a great gentleman, whose door was open all the time.”

On social media, Maison Louis Latour said: He was a passionate and profoundly human man who was able to move the Maison Louis Latour forward over the years through his innovative projects and his respect for tradition.”

The Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB) praised the work of its former president, who took over from Claude Chevalier in 2016: “His commitment to defending and promoting our wines, his contagious enthusiasm, and his dynamism made a huge contribution to the reputation of [Burgundy wines].”

During his tenure as president, Latour prioritised ensuring that production could meet international demand without diminishing the region’s reputation. His second term ended prematurely early last year when illness forced him to step down from the role.

Françoise Sauvadet, President of the Côte-d’Or department, said: “Very sad to learn of the death of my friend Louis-Fabrice Latour, a great figure in our viticulture. The entire Côte-d’Or loses a warm man and a remarkable professional. All my condolences to his family and loved ones.”

Wine writer Michael Apstein reflected: “Always smiling, his tie always askew, he was always welcoming. Though he took his work seriously, he never took himself too seriously. He leaves a void in Burgundy and in the world. Deepest sympathies to his wonderful family, who was even more important to him than wine.”

He leaves behind his wife, Patricia, whom he married in 1995, and their four children.

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