Louis-Fabrice Latour, president of Maison Louis Latour, one of Burgundy's most prominent and historic wine producers, died Sept. 5 of cancer. He was 58.
"He will be missed tremendously by all the Burgundians in general and especially by those, like me, who have been his friend," said Pierre-Henry Gagey, president of Maison Louis Jadot. "Louis-Fabrice played a considerable role in Burgundy in the past 20 years. He embodied a Burgundian region proud of its past and its terroir but also modern and innovative. He served Burgundy with passion, integrity and great intelligence."
Latour took the reins of the house from his father in 1999. Founded in 1797, the domaine’s holdings were already enviable, comprising 114 acres of mostly premiers and grands crus vineyards around the cellar on the hill of Corton. In addition, the house makes wines from Ardèche and the Var in the south of France.
Latour further expanded the company's holdings by purchasing Simonnet-Febvre in Chablis in 2003 and Henry Fessy in Beaujolais in 2008. He also initiated projects and developed vineyards in lesser-known areas, such as Côteaux de l'Auxois, which lies between Dijon and Chablis, and Pierres Dorées, an area in southern Beaujolais. Maison Louis Latour produces about 750,000 cases of wine a year, making it one of the largest négociants in Burgundy.
"My grandfather once said, 'Never invest in a place you can't [get to] before lunch," Latour told Wine Spectator in a 2016 interview. "My father always believed our market should be around France. Me, I'm a great believer from a strategic point of view. So it's true our new frontier is our backdoor, our backyard."
Under Latour's direction, both the domaine and négociant wines improved. Adjustments were made in the vineyards and cellar, with the winemakers seeking greater concentration in the reds without sacrificing purity, and striving for more elegance in the whites. Latour's Corton-Charlemagne 2018 was Wine Spectator's No. 6 Wine of 2021.
"I joined the company two years after [Louis-Fabrice]," said Bernard Retornaz, president of Louis Latour, Inc. "He was so approachable, a great boss."
Latour, born Feb. 29, 1964, was the 11th generation to run the firm, and the seventh Louis. Following in his father's footsteps, he studied at Sciences Po (the Paris Institute of Political Studies), an elite school whose prominent graduates include former president Jacques Chirac. He worked in finance in Paris for two years before joining Maison Latour in 1988, at age 24.
His youthful charm and humor belied his forward-thinking vision for the company and dedication to the wines of Burgundy. Monsieur Touton Selection owner Guillaume Touton distributed the wines of Louis Latour in New York for 23 years. "Louis-Fabrice loved to be in the field. He loved to take the subway, meet customers, present the new vintage and talk about the harvest," Touton told Wine Spectator. "He always had a great sense of humor."
Latour served as co-president of the Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne (BIVB) for two terms, the second cut short by his illness early in 2021. He was also president of the Fédération des Négociants-Éleveurs de Grande Bourgogne (FNEB), the federation of merchants of greater Burgundy, and Fédération des Exportateurs de Vins et Spiriteux (FEVS), the federation of French wine and spirits exporters.
Latour is survived by his wife, Patricia, and their four children, Eléonore, Louis, Victor and Gaspard; his sister, Virginie, and brothers, Alexis and Florent.
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