|Chateau Latour 1997
Don’t ask about the Alfoil….
Chateau Latour 1997 (Pauillac, Bordeaux, France)
13%, Cork (a ridiculously good cork at that), $277 (last Langtons auction price)
Source: Friend’s cellar
I’ve bragged before about the joys of drinking fine aged wines from this particular cellar, so I won’t do it again here (oops I think I just did). Needless to say I am always happy to help out…
As for this beautifully conditioned (the cork looked 3 years old, not 14) claret, what I found most interesting to note was simply how attractive it looked in context of it’s vintage. As many people will remind you, ’97 was one of the worst Bordeaux vintages of the last 20 years, producing generally underwhelming vino that languished on shelves for many years, the wines sitting at prices that had been overheated by the strength of the good ’95 and ’96 vintages immediately preceding.
Yet this looked far from ordinary. It’s hardly a $277 bottle of wine, but I can happily say that my glass emptied at speed and offered no shortage of enjoyment in the process. The problem is that in the context of the ’01 (which I sampled only a few weeks ago. Yes, I know, life is good and all that), this is unquestionably an inferior wine. What marks it as still respectable though is the simple joys of claret.
In the glass it certainly looks it’s age, really rather ruby in colour, edged with tawny and carrying a noticeable fine grained pile of sediment building up like dirt in the bottom of the bottle. The nose too is mature and maturing, looking more meaty and decayed by the hour. There’s also a hint of capsicum in there too, a reminder of a less than perfect vintage viticulturally speaking.
The palate though, well, it was lovely. Plain lovely. Medium bodied, supremely unforced and rather elegant, the acidity at that point of maximum refreshment that great claret does so well. It’s a lightness without losing weight, a delicacy of body that really is so rare in many contemporary styles. It’s the sort of balance and restraint that makes this form of wine the choice for luncheoning bankers and lawyers in the pointy end of town.
|1997 Latour cork
Crap photo, magnificent cork
Once you look beyond all that lovely refreshment then, the only real issue is that it’s just not all that persistent. It tails off pretty quickly, with (just) sufficient tannins but insufficient fruit power, all combining to provide a slightly lesser experience. It’s like a Bentley that’s missing a few cylinders, or a Chesterfield that is losing it’s stuffing.
Regardless, there is no shortage of claret-ilicous attraction here. A gentleman/gentlewoman’s drink if ever there was one.
Now hand me my smoking jacket.. 17.8/92