After more than 70 years, Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is getting a new home. Beaulieu Vineyard in California's Napa Valley is adding a winemaking facility devoted to producing its flagship wine.
BV is spending $7 million to transform an existing barrel facility at its Rutherford site, essentially creating a self-contained winery, outfitted with 5- to 7-ton oak and stainless steel fermentors, sorting tables and a tasting room separate from the winery's main visitor center. Construction of the winery is expected to be complete by harvest 2008.
"We're always looking at ways we can improve quality," said Joel Aiken, BV's vice president of winemaking. "We've been gradually moving in this direction for a few years."
Aiken and the rest of the BV winemaking team have been experimenting in recent vintages with stricter grape selection, small-lot fermentation and other techniques, but the existing winery setup limited their ability to adopt these practices for the entire Georges de Latour program. "We found [the new methods] really did make a difference in making the style of Georges de Latour that we want to make," Aiken said. "It really gives more flesh to the wine and kind of rounds out the tannins."
The winery also had a problem in one of its cellars with widespread TCA (2,4,6-trichloroanisole) taint that worked its way into many of its wines. (TCA, the compound responsible for most tainted corks, causes moldy or musty aromas and flavors that can be unpleasant but pose no health hazard.) That problem has been resolved, according to the winery.
Founded in 1900, BV is one of Napa's oldest wineries and remains highly regarded. First produced in 1936, Georges de Latour is considered a benchmark in Napa Valley Cabernet.
The wine, produced from the historic BV 1 and BV 2 vineyards in the heart of Napa Valley, has an annual production of about 12,000 cases. "We're looking to shrink that to about 10,000 cases and ramp up quality," said Aiken, who will oversee a winemaking team dedicated exclusively to the Georges de Latour program.