Louis-Fabrice Latour is in the United States this week, rolling out his 2007 white Burgundies. To date, he has been to Illinois, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey and New York. Critical to his release strategy is a price reduction.
The Latour whites are being offered to the trade at significantly lower prices than the initial offering of the 2006s. The village appellations are 24 percent lower, the premiers crus 35 percent lower and the grands crus 38 percent lower. Based on the presell offer through June 2009, Latour’s Meursault would retail for $35, its premier cru Château de Blagny for $50 and the grand cru Corton-Charlemagne would retail for $90. Both the Blagny and Corton-Charlemagne are domaine wines. The wines will arrive in the U.S. in September.
I’m getting over a cold, so my tasting faculties were not 100 percent when I tasted these wines non-blind with Latour at Rothmann's steak house in New York yesterday. Nonetheless, the Latour range is typical of the 2007 vintage. The wines are fresh, elegant and, in the best examples, full of mineral elements. Wines like the Meursault Château de Blagny and Puligny-Montrachet Sous le Puits and Chassagne-Montrachet Caillerets show finesse and length.
Others, like the Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot and Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatières, are richer in the context of the vintage, revealing more flesh and breadth.
Generally speaking, like many of the 2007 whites and reds I tasted this past January from barrel, tank and bottle in Burgundy, the Latour whites are a little lower in alcohol, about 12.8 percent by volume according to Latour. Only the Corton-Charlemagne and Bâtard-Montrachet have more body and cross the 13-degree threshold, because they were picked later.
This adds to the refreshing component of these wines. They are balanced, with good acid structures—excellent wines for food.
"I think customers love drinking the 2004 whites today and '07 looks to them like a super '04," said Latour.
Better still, the prices are comparable to Latour’s 2004 whites, in some cases less. In these difficult economic times, this sends the right message to consumers. These days, it’s all about price, regardless of the quality of the wines. The hottest category is in the $10 to $20 range, according to some sources in the industry. I have heard that wines over $30 aren’t selling very well. White Burgundy isn’t known for value, but at least Latour is willing to concede some ground on price to make its wines more attractive to restaurants and retailers.