Louis Latour: The Lighter-Bodied Side of Burgundy

Louis Latour 2006 Pinot Noir
Louis Latour Pinot Noir Bottle

Louis Latour Pinot Noir (from http://www.bennettswine.co.uk)

Louis Latour is a family-run winery located in the Burgundy region of France. They’ve been in the business since the 17th Century, and though they have 125 acres of land, they themselves only grow two grape varieties: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The winery is noted for reaching outside Burgundy to many different regions and grapes, experimenting with varietals from Gamay to Viognier, depending on what other villages are producing at that time.

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

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