First Growth Latour to test its sales strategy with 2006 release in March

In 2012 Chateau Latour created a stir in Bordeaux, and the global wine trade, with its withdrawal from the en primeur system, with the 2011 vintage the last to be released in this fashion. The strategic decision behind this was that the chateau management would determine when the wine was ready to drink and release accordingly.

Since then, Latour’s prices have drifted and lagged behind those of the other four First Growths. The announcement this week that a release of Latour 2006 and its second wine, Les Forts de Latour 2012, on 21st March, a few weeks ahead of the 2017 en primeur tastings, has caused a buzz and also allowed for these Latour vintages to be tasted at the same time as the 2017 Bordeaux wines.

The Chateau has released older vintages each year since 2012, still through the Bordeaux merchant system, but has with-held all of its new vintages at the estate, for release when the wines are mature.

The release of the Les Forts de Latour 2012 (scored 91 points by Steven Spurrier) will be the first time that the strategy will really be tested, and as this wine has not been sold in the market before there are no back vintage prices to compare with, or compete against. Whilst the release date has been announced, the size of the Les Forts 2012 release is not yet known, but rumour has it, it could be sizeable.

Latour put 36% of the overall production into the first wine in 2012, 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.

Commentators have recently questioned the future of the en primeur system and Latour has been viewed as a potential bold first-mover in terms of the shake-up of the system, time will tell but the take-up of next week’s releases, and in particular the 2006 Grand Vin, will certainly be of interest.

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