Once again, challenging conditions along the Côte de Beaune in 2014 separated elite growers and winemakers from the rest. Yields were again down as much as 50 percent, but quality was STUNNING.
Wine Spectator rated the vintage 93-96 points (possibly the finest for white Burgundy since 1985!)
Antonio Galloni's Vinous didn't mince words: "clearly a vintage to buy."
James Suckling called it "beautiful" and "creamy" and lauded its "full body," rating it 92 points.
At Domaine Louis Latour, meticulous and rigorous vigor in the vineyards resulted in a "masterful vintage," according to Latour's winemaker, Jean Charles Thomas.
We remember it like yesterday. When we visited Burgundy in June 2014 (SEE PICS), the mood in Puligny and Chassagne was buoyant. Flowering had gone off without a hitch. The Chardonnay set, while not copious, was above the norm. 2014 was shaping up to be an excellent vintage both quantitatively and qualitatively — if the weather held out.
Three consecutive short harvests (2011 to 2013) ravaged by hail and frost had the greatest names of Chassagne-Montrachet grimacing as they took stock of the value of their assets and their revenues. Even as land and bottle prices skyrocket on the limestone hillsides of the Côte de Beaune, it's hard to keep cash flowing when yields are down 30-80%.
The winter of 2013-2014 was mild and dry, as was early spring. By mid-April, the vines had gotten off to such a fast start that Louis Latour's winemaker Jean Charles Thomas had considered moving up his traditional August vacation plans. It was possible, he thought, that instead of hunting for wild boar in the vast Corbières forest of southern France, he'd actually need to be picking Chardonnay!
But then Burgundy cooled off. Six weeks of chilly, wet weather set his mind at ease. The rains were welcome, and refreshing for the vines, and the cool weather suggested a normal harvest date, sometime in mid-September — Jean Charles would not have to cancel his hunting trip.
Right up until June 27th, Latour's plantings on the mid-center cut of hillside above the tiny town of Chassagne-Montrachet were bathed in warm sunshine, all but eliminating any early-season risk of mildew.
Then came the fateful evening of Saturday, June 28th.
Virtually the whole village of Chassagne-Montrachet came to a standstill as menacing black clouds rolled in. By the time lightning struck in the distance, lighting up the sky, the Latours, Ramonets, Leflaives, and Niellons already knew what was coming. The first drops of rain came, quickly saturating the cobblestone streets. Thunder grew closer, louder — and then the sky opened up. Once again, a massive thunderstorm pelted the Côte de Beaune, rain and hail ravaging vines. Up to half of the potential crop was lost in just a couple of hours.
That was the bad news. But, there's quite a silver lining.
Despite a diminished crop, Jean Charles told us he still considered it a "masterful vintage." Grapes that remained on the vines in Chassagne-Montrachet were treated to a glorious stretch of bright, sunny days and cool, crisp nights from early August through to harvest. At Latour, workers began hand-picking grapes the third week in September. Chardonnay berries were loaded with sugar, yet acids were vivid and electrifying.
In small crop years like 2014, Domaine Louis Latour also integrates the wine of some of its better Premier Cru vineyards (such as Les Embazees, Les Vergers, and Les Baudines) to enhance the quantity — thereby also raising the bar on quality — of this already OVER-THE-TOP white Burgundy.
It gets better. Wine Spectator rated the vintage 93-96 points — possibly the best vintage for white Burgundy since 1985! Antonio Galloni's Vinous published a report that didn't mince words: "For lovers of classic white Burgundies, 2014 is clearly a vintage to buy."
The 2014 Louis Latour Chassagne-Montrachet is a pure pale-green-gold color, with aromas of lemon peel, white orchards, intense honey, and vanilla on the nose. Rich and weighty on the attack, infused with flavors of ripe citrus and pear. Beautifully balanced, finishing with vibrant minerality and backbone. Drink now to 2025. James Suckling called it "beautiful" and "creamy" and lauded its "full body," rating it 92 points.
92 Points James Suckling
A beautiful, creamy white with sliced apples, lemon curd and hints of mangoes. Some sand, too. Medium to full body and a soft texture, but this is fresh and delicious. Drink now and for 15-20 years.
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