The first time I tasted this wine was a couple years ago at Boudreaux’s, a cajun restaurant in Blacksburg, VA. We were in a group of 6, and the three of us most experienced in wine were selecting the bottles. I had selected a Cabernet Sauvignon for the first bottle, and the guy who had the second pick selected a Pinot Noir to follow a very, unexpectedly full-bodied wine. The Pinot Noir ended up being sandwiched between a Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon, which should have doomed it to obscurity on our palates and in our minds.
What surprised me about Louis Latour’s offering was that even after a wine as powerful as the Cab Sauv, the flavor managed to hold its own. The wine was fairly light-bodied, yet I could still detect a strong berry flavor, slightly tart, and smoky overtones. It was rather on the sweet side, too. The flavor wasn’t complex by any means; this is a robust, yet easy-drinking wine, and it serves its purpose well. The nose was a bit weak, though, slightly floral, offering mostly a bouquet of strawberry, blackberry, and possibly some other subdued red-fruit. The texture wasn’t anything all that spectacular, either. I wouldn’t call it flat by any means, but the acidity and tannins were not ideal. This is definitely a wine that would benefit from aging. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to sample an older vintage.
The wine also coincidentally arrived with our dessert, a milk-chocolate-based fudge lava & whipped cream cake, and the flavors matched pretty well. It would probably go better with a lighter chocolate dessert. As far as other food pairings, I’ve had luck with more flavorful or heavily spiced chicken dishes such as chicken marsala or rotisserie-style chickens, hens, whatever. Due to the crisp taste and lack of dryness, I might also pair it with seafood.
Any other drawbacks? Well, I’ve heard some say that the wine is a little too smoky for their taste, but I didn’t think so. It doesn’t keep well, so once you’ve opened it, you’ve only got about 24-48 hours before it’s rendered undrinkable. Unlike most reds, it doesn’t seem to get a whole lot of benefit from aeration.
I’ve also seen some people online complain about the price, being closer to 20 dollars than 10. Even now, in early 2010, I can find a bottle of the 2007 vintage at CostCo for just over 10 dollars. It’s probably not worth 20, but if you find it under 15, I recommend getting it.
I’m not as enamored with this wine as I was when I first had it, mostly because I’ve learned a lot more since then. It’s certainly no world-beater, but if you can find it on the cheaper side, and you know what to expect from a Pinot Noir, I’d recommend giving it a shot. 6/10