2009 Louis Latour Beaune Premier Cru "Vignes Franches"
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WS 92 points
(Read the full review below)
 
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Vineyards of Louis Latour 2009 Louis Latour "Vignes Franches"

No serious collector in the world disputes Burgundy's position as the source for the world's greatest Pinot Noirs. But as we've learned so thoroughly over the years at WineAccess, not all Pinot Noir palates are the same.

Those first weaned on the top Russian River and Sonoma Coast wines (Peter Michael, Rochioli, Luc Morlet, etc.) have a strong preference for juicy, ripe, wild-berry Pinot Noirs that are deliciously forward and plump on release. Others, who have been fed a steady diet of First Growth Burgundies from the steep calcareous slopes above Beaune and Nuits-St.-Georges, tend to prefer structure and elegance. And while few of the Old World persuasion would tell you they prefer lean-vintage Burgundy over warm, plush harvests, if the Pinot Noir doesn't have age-worthy backbone, they're not interested.

All this creates a challenge for us as we flex our buying muscles at the top addresses on the Côte de Beaune. Maybe one day, through all of the algorithms we've built to analyze taste in wine, we'll be smart enough to unlock the key to each member's taste, only proposing wines that coincide with individual preferences. But we're not there yet. As a result, we're left trying to ferret out that which is nearly impossible to find on the most precious Pinot Noir hillsides on the planet — reasonably priced Premier Cru Burgundy from a great vintage that is opulent enough to mimic the best of the New World, yet sufficiently mineral to enchant the traditionalists.

Today, we finally got one.

After 2006-2008 — three fairly lean, structured vintages on the Côte de Beaune — the winegrowers in and around the historic village of Beaune were in for a treat. Unlike the preceding springs, April and May of 2009 were warm and dry. The vines on the center cut, First Growth hillsides of Beaune got off to an early start. A cooler first two weeks of June slowed down the maturation cycle. At Louis Latour's world-class Vignes Franches holding, many of the clusters were strewn with tiny, sweet, seedless berries that would pay juicy dividends at harvest.

The only challenge facing Latour was the potential for hydric stress. There had been little rainfall from the beginning of April to the second week of July. But just as the French started singing La Marseillaise on Bastille Day, the sky opened up, replenishing water reserves in the rocky substrata. The Pinot Noir plants that had been begging for rain, perked up quickly, suddenly rejuvenated. From the end of July until the September harvest, it was clear sailing, replete with warm, blue sky days and mild nights.

At harvest, we were told two weeks ago by Louis Latour executive Bernard Retornaz, whose knowledge of the tiny vineyards of the Côte de Beaune borders on the encyclopedic, the bunches sported small, thick-skinned berries, much explaining the unusually dark color of the 2009 Vignes Franches. Sugars were sky-high, speaking to the phenomenal, almost Russian River concentration of this gorgeous Premier Cru Burgundy that magically straddles the line between the Old World and the New.

Dark ruby-red. Ultra-ripe aromas of blackberry, licorice and sweet spice, lightly touched with new-wood vanilla. Despite the unusual density of the vintage, still fresh and vibrant on the mid-palate, showing dark flavors of black fruits and mint. Almost New World jammy, packed with dark berries, but with the superb lift and mineral concentration of this exceptional site in 2009. Delicious and utterly flashy now, owing to this Pinot's sheer sweetness, but don't be fooled: This one will continue to add weight and complexity over the next 10-15 years.



Tasting Notes

2009 Louis Latour Beaune Premier Cru "Vignes Franches"
"Dark ruby-red. Ultra-ripe aromas of blackberry, licorice and sweet spice, lightly touched with new wood vanilla. Despite the unusual density of the vintage, still fresh and vibrant on the mid-palate, showing dark flavors of black fruits and mint. Almost New World jammy, packed with dark berries, but with the superb lift and mineral concentration of this exceptional site in 2009. Delicious and utterly flashy now, owing to this Pinot's sheer sweetness, but don't be fooled: This one will continue to add weight and complexity over the next 10-15 years."
-- WineAccess Travel Log, September 21, 2013

"Floral pepper aromas grace the wild raspberry and wild cherry flavors in this exotic red. The berry flavors team up with a silky texture, keeping the tannins at bay. Offers a fine, lingering aftertaste of berry and spice. Drink now through 2022. 1,348 cases made."
92 points -- Wine Spectator

 

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