Does the name Louis Latour ring a bell? If you’re a fan of Burgundy wine, it should. Maison Louis Latour is one of the best-known wine producers and wine merchants in all of Burgundy. The Latour family has been growing vines in the vineyards of Burgundy since the 16th century, and today the family company is run by the seventh in a line of men named Louis, Louis-Fabrice Latour.
You may have seen Louis Latour wines on store shelves or in restaurants. You might have even tasted some of them yourself. How much do you really know about Maison Louis Latour and its wines, though? Read on for three things you probably didn’t know about this historic family wine business.
3 things you didn’t know about Louis Latour
With such an extensive family history in the region, there are probably closer to 300 things you didn’t know about Louis Latour. Let’s keep it simple, and go with the three most important facts that make Louis Latour such a special company.
1. Louis Latour owns more Grand Cru vineyards in the Côte d’Or than anybody else
Louis Latour has got to be proud of this one. Grand Cru is one of those tricky terms in wine, mainly because it means different things from one region to another. In Burgundy, “Grand Cru” is the highest classification that a vineyard can have. Crucially, it is the vineyard land itself that is not classified and not its owner or the producer. This is in contrast with Bordeaux, where it’s the producers that are classified, regardless of whether they buy or sell part of their vineyard land.
The Côte d’Or (“the golden slope”) is the beating heart of the Burgundy region. It is subdivided into the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune. Broadly speaking, the Côte de Nuits is home to Burgundy’s finest red wines, and the Côte de Beaune produces the best whites. Let’s summarise, then: Louis Latour owns more Grand Cru land – that is, the best vineyard sites – in the Côte d’Or, Burgundy’s finest region. That’s a big deal.
2. Louis Latour doesn’t just make Burgundy wine
Though the Louis Latour name will be forever entwined with the Côte d’Or and Burgundy in general, there’s more to it than that. Never content to stand still, Maison Louis Latour has developed vineyards and wine production outside its Burgundian stronghold.
Louis Latour was an early pioneer in the relatively unknown region of Ardèche, on the southern bank of the Rhône river. Ardéche occupies some rather unfashionable vineyard land between the far more prestigious regions of the Northern Rhône and Southern Rhône. Here, Louis Latour produces some world-class white wines, exporting its Burgundy know-how and expertise to cultivate the Chardonnay grape.
3. Louis Latour is the only Burgundy producer to make its own barrels
Oak barrels are big business in the world of fine wine. French oak, in particular, is in such high demand that there is an entire industry dedicated to producing oak barrels in France. These companies are called cooperages, and they supply oak vessels to the producers of the best wines in the world.
Louis Latour has its own cooperage, which is unique in Burgundy. Here, they produce around 3,500 barrels per year. Of these, about half are used to age Louis Latour wines and the other half are sold to other wine producers.