Henri Latour Hautes Cotes de Beaune Rouge 18
As an unabashed Francophile, I've spent the better part of my adult life investigating French wine and cuisine. Years back, when my career as a Chef was in full swing, I began making pilgrimages to this sacred land of food and wine, savoring each meal, and every glass of wine. Over the years, I've developed a shortlist of favorite places in France -- Burgundy remains firmly at the top of my list.
Burgundy is one of the most important and prestigious wine regions in the world; however, they produce just a tiny amount of wine. Everything here happens on a microscopic scale. In most cases, vineyard ownership is measured by rows, not hectares.
This tiny production scale allows most winemakers in Burgundy to craft their wines with an intimate, hands-on attachment to the entire process, personally guiding the progress from grape to glass. The guy or gal jumping off the tractor in the vineyard is likely the property owner and winemaker.
Vines in the Hautes Côtes de Beaune subregion grow on the southeast facing valley slopes cut into the steep limestone plateaus of the Cote D'Or escarpment. These plateaus can extend upwards of 1000 and 1500 feet, 300-600 feet higher than vineyards in Côtes de Beaune. The additional elevation and cooler climate conditions slow the ripening, resulting in a later harvest that retains a remarkable freshness of fruit -- especially relevant with global warming.
Brothers François and Sylvain Latour carry on the family tradition as 7th generation vignerons working 16 hectares of family vineyards in Auxey-Dures, Mersault, Saint Roman, and Hautes Côtes de Beaune. It's a classic Burgundian family affair with brother Sylvain growing the grapes, managing the vineyards, and François making the wine and overseeing the cellar. Tasting with François on my last visit, I was again blown away by the passion and attention to detail they both apply at every production level.
In the glass, you're treated to notes of cherry, savory herbs, tea, and current on the nose leading to a palate of explosive cherry fruit with notes of currant, tree bark, and forest floor. It's a smooth, fresh, and bright Pinot Noir that will make any Burgundy lover smile. I consider this one a real overachiever and the best vintage of this wine I've tasted!