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Latour tests new approach with Les Forts 2012 release

Les Forts de Latour 2012 will be released this month, making it the first wine to go on the market that was produced after the first growth estate left the en primeur system.

Les Forts de Latour 2012 will be released along with Latour 2006 – the grand vin – on 21 March, a few weeks before merchants arrive to taste the 2017 vintage en primeur, and where they will be able to taste the 2012 and 2006 Latour and Forts vintages at the estate.

Six years ago, in 2012, Pauillac first growth Château Latour announced that the 2011 vintage would be the last one that it would sell as a future under the Bordeaux en primeur system.

It has since released older vintages each year, still through the Bordeaux merchant system, but kept back the entirety of its new vintages at the estate, for release when the wines are mature.

Next week’s release of the Les Forts de Latour 2012 will be the first time that this new system will really be tested, as this will be a wine that has not to date been sold in the market, and therefore there are no back vintage pricing to compete against.

Pricing information was not disclosed at this stage. Steven Spurrier rated the Forts 2012 as 91 points when he tasted it en primeur for Decanter.

Latour said of the release, ‘This wine perfectly embodies our philosophy of cellaring at the estate until the first stage of maturity has been reached.’

There has been speculation within Bordeaux that this could be a relatively size-able release. Estate marketing director Jean Garandeau confirmed the release date but did not specify the amount of cases set to go on the market.

In 2012, Latour put 36% of the overall production into the first wine, with 43% going into Les Forts de Latour and 22% into Pauillac de Latour. In an average year the estate will make somewhere between 12,000 to 15,000 cases across the three labels.

Shaun Bishop, of San Francisco-based wine retailer JJ Buckley, told Decanter.com, ‘We live in an era where consumers usually don’t want to plan ahead and they definitely don’t want to wait around.

‘Wine is no exception and in this department Latour is one step ahead of its neighbours in Bordeaux.

‘It is difficult to measure the potential success ahead of release, but there is no denying that the landscape is changing, and the days of selling a wine two years ahead of shipment (and many years before optimal drinking window) is slowly but surely coming to an end.’

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