2009 Louis Latour Corton Clos du Roi Grand Cru
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WS 93 points
(Read the full review below)
 
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Domaine Louis Latour 2009 Louis Latour Corton Clos du Roi Grand Cru

Since 1979, we've been visiting Burgundy every summer. We've made dozens of winemaker friends on the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits over the last 35 years, each of whom treats us to extensive barrel tastings of the latest vintage before taking us on olfactory trips back in time.

Since the great back-to-back 1989 and 1990 harvests, three vintages most stand out: 2005, for its monumental structure; 2010, for its low-yield energy and elegance; and, of course, 2009, for its historic concentration and red-fruit hedonism.

The weakness of the 2009 campaign was found in the lesser appellations, Pinot Noirs grown on the bottom of the hillside where the soils are more clayey and the vines are less stressed. Growers lament that many of those "little" 2009s — while ripe, rich and forward — lack the acid backbone of a classic Burgundian vintage. Unlike those "village" wines, the top Premier Crus, generally drawn from further up the hillside, offer up almost Russian River-like concentration with just enough acidity to keep all the natural voluptuousness in check.

But the greatest 2009 reds — the handful of tiny-production Grand Crus that dot les côtes — are absolutely stunning, unlike any young Burgundies we've ever tasted. These precious spots, where vineyard land is sold in increments of 1/10 of an acre at prices that would make a Central Park real estate agent salivate, are home to deep-rooted Pinot Noir that's not so much farmed as gardened. As calcareous soil content is extremely high, pHs are low. Acids are firm. In 2009, the Grand Crus of Burgundy had the best of all worlds: historic wild-berry ripeness married with mouthwatering acidic backbone.

For the collectors who managed to get their hands on a few bottles of 2009 Romanée-Conti ($13,500/bottle!) or La Tâche (a bargain $3,000), not a buyer will be popping a cork much before 2030. For the insiders who eked out a 3-pack of Christophe Roumier's staggering 2009 Bonnes-Mares ($1,000/bottle), gigantic dividends will be paid to the patient. As for de Vogüé's Le Musigny ($850), if you own it, take care of it — and it will take care of you.

When we asked Louis-Fabrice Latour to tell us why the 2009 Louis Latour Corton Clos du Roi Grand Cru ranks among the greatest three or four wines ever drawn off these steep hillsides adjacent to Corton Charlemagne, the proprietor didn't miss a beat.

The old vines of Clos du Roi got off to an early start in the spring of 2009, making for one of the earlier fruit sets in the last 20 years. Early June turned cooler, slowing down the maturation cycle. This kind of quick climatic change sets the stage for what the French call "millerandages" — the formation of clusters strewn with sweet, seedless berries that would account for the wild-berry, jammy core of the '09 Clos du Roi.

By mid-July, we were told, Latour had one primary concern. "It barely rained from April through mid-July. Unlike California, we are not permitted to irrigate in Burgundy. The vines were beginning to look dehydrated."

But just as Bastille Day brought fireworks to light up the Champs-Élysées, the sky opened up and down la côte. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. The Grand Cru vineyards were the first to respond, quickly quenching their thirst and erasing any vestige of hydric stress. "From early August to harvest, it was clear sailing." It would be one of the more miraculous harvests since we first rolled into Beaune in 1979.

Typically, red Burgundy measures 12.5-13.5% in finished alcohol. The 2009 Corton Clos du Roi tops out at a lusty 14. Still, despite the high natural sugars and the marvelous sweet-fruit concentration, the wine is in perfect balance. You never taste the heat.

The 2009 Louis Latour Corton Clos du Roi Grand Cru is deepest-ruby to the rim. The nose alone is worth the price of admission, a gorgeous floral mix of raspberry preserves, black cherry and sweet spice. Rich, voluminous and mouth-filling on the attack, packed with crushed-red-fruit compote, the finish remains perfectly persistent, firm and vibrant.

Like all the top Latour reds, lay this one down as you would the wines of Roumier, de Vogüé and Romanée-Conti. If you don't pop a cork before 2030, you're doing yourself a favor.



Tasting Notes

2009 Louis Latour Corton Clos du Roi Grand Cru
"An expressive red, whose floral, raspberry and cherry flavors match the elegant profile. Though silky and detailed, this is also tightly wound, evidenced on the long finish. A civilized, stylish Corton. Better than previously reviewed. Best from 2015 through 2033. 443 cases made."
93 points -- Wine Spectator

"Deepest ruby to the rim. The nose alone is worth the price of admission, a gorgeous floral mix of raspberry preserves, black cherry and sweet spice. Rich, voluminous and mouth-filling on the attack, packed with crushed-red-fruit compote, the finish remains perfectly persistent, firm and vibrant. If you don't pop a cork before 2030, you're doing yourself a favor."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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