John Stimpfig tastes the 1981 vintage of the famed Chateau Latour at a lunch in late Autumn.
Chateau Latour, 1er Grand Cru Classe, Pauillac, Bordeaux 1981
Often the measure of a great terroir and producer are the so-called off vintages, which frequently surprise and delight to punch far above their weight. The 81 Latour is a classic case in point. From an unheralded year, this particular bottle had clearly been kept in fabulous condition. The youthful colour is not dissimilar to the 96 and the nose still provides plenty of primary Cabernet-based fruit (classic cassis, lead pencil and cedar) with some tertiary notes in the background. Then a lovely attack on the palate; dry with very correct blackcurrant fruit, balsam, a hint of savoury iron rust and a vein of autumnal forest floor. Gentle, melting tannins, medium weight and a clean acidic cut enable the wine to glide effortlessly across the tastebuds. The finish is harmonious, long and cries out for another bottle. In short, a textbook claret which is now at its drinking best, even more so with a cut of roast lamb.
Taster John Stimpfig
Price: £325 Fine & Rare *US stockists from Wine-Searcher.com