Maison Louis Latour has just taken an 18-year lease on Chateau des Labourons in Fleurie – an important move in their long-term plan for Beaujolais presence.
The 18ha property is in good condition, the vines around 30 years old and well-kept, Maison Louis Latour president Louis-Fabrice Latour told Decanter.com.
Louis Latour is part of a growing list of important Burgundy houses with properties in Beaujolais.
Chateau des Labourons is within hailing distance of Villa Ponciago, the 120ha property the Henriot family – owners of Bouchard Père et Fils – bought in 2009, and Louis Jadot has had a major presence in Beaujolais with Chateau de Jacques, 70ha of Moulin à Vent, Morgon and Chénas.
Louis Latour already has half a dozen Beaujolais cru wines in its portfolio, the major Crus including Brouilly, Morgon, Fleurie and Moulin à Vent.
‘It’s important for us to have a strong presence in Fleurie,’ Latour said. ‘There are some big Burgundy names down there.’
Beaujolais does not enjoy anything like the reputation of Burgundy. With at least half of its production going to Beaujolais Nouveau, the region cannot command the prices nor the renown that many think it deserves.
Before the 1950s top Beaujolais fetched the same prices as premier grand cru classe and cru classe Burgundy, but since then the region has struggled, especially at Villages level, with many vineyards falling into disrepair.
‘Beaujolais reached the bottom a couple of years ago,’ Latour said, conceding that ‘Beaujolais Nouveau has not helped with the image of the region but we couldn’t live without it now.’
He said the priority now was to ‘get the younger generation interested’ in Beaujolais.
Latour has been working with the owners of Labourons, the De Lescure family, for several years but it has not taken on a formal lease of the property.
The next vintage to be released will be the 2011 early next year, at around £14. The last vintage, 2012, produced the smallest crop since 1957 so there is likely to be ‘a lot of tension regarding prices’, Latour said.
Written by Adam Lechmere