Jean-Pierre Latour is not a man given to overstatement, but he was super-excited about the 2017 vintage. Where some recorded a boost in yields following the hail- and frost-hit harvests that preceded it, his production from the premiers crus was only on a par with ’16. “As to the wines, I view the 2017s as appealing to two different audiences, which is not always the case,” Jean-Pierre told Allen Meadows of Burghound. “Casual consumers will like the fact that the whites will be both approachable and enjoyable young as there is good mid-palate fat and the acidities are adequate but not really high. By contrast, connoisseurs will admire the wines for their elegance, finesse and transparency to the underlying terroir. Either way, to me they are concentrated, serious and ageworthy.”
We’re only two years into our partnership with Jean-Pierre, whose shrewd mind and gently self-assured demeanour disarmed us entirely when we visited him in Meursault in March 2018. This was already a couple of years after being wowed by the sleek, lithe drive of these subtly expressive white burgundies.
To recap, Jean-Pierre’s oldest known ancestor living from the vine was Jean Latour-Boillot, born about 1680, while the Giraud family were distillers in Meursault. The two domaines were united in 1958 with a marriage between the two families. These days production of the 10-hectare domaine is a little over 80% white, with the majority of vines across five premiers crus of Meursault: Les Genevrières, Les Charmes, Les Perrières, Les Bouchères and Le Poruzot.
Jean-Pierre is essentially a one-man show. He first got his hands dirty in the cellar back in 1983, then took the helm in ‘93. It’s now more than 10 years since he feels he’s absolutely nailed this style of white Burgundy – which he defines, justifiably, as “richness, purity and elegance, so that wines finish fresh”.
The whites are whole-bunch pressed, receiving a first racking at the end of August, when Jean-Pierre looks at the quality of lees to take forward. Bâtonnage is often part of the equation, but close observation of the vintage dictate frequency and duration. The wines are raised in oak for 11 to 12 months, with about 20% new oak for Bourgogne and village, and 25% for the premiers crus.
2017 Latour-Giraud Bourgogne Blanc RRP $64
Dry and mellow, Domaine Latour-Giraud’s Bourgogne Blanc is harvested very close to the Meursault appellation. It shows all the suppleness, delicate texture and slight nuttiness for which Meursault is famed.
An interesting nose is composed by notes of matchstick, lemon rind and a whiff of petrol. There is excellent volume and punch to the delicious middle weight flavors that conclude in a lingering if ever-so-mildly sweet finish. To enjoy young. 86 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound June 2019
2017 Latour-Giraud Meursault Cuvée Charles Maxime RRP $124
Domaine Latour-Giraud has always aspired to produce a village Meursault of particularly high quality, representative of the region and unifying various soil profiles. To mark this out as a special wine, this has been baptised with the name of the family’s two grandfathers: Charles (Giraud) and Maxime (Latour).
The domaine owns three hectares of village-designated vineyards across seven climats in Meursault: the Limozin, the Crotots and the Pelles Dessous (just under the Genevrières and the Poruzots); the Vireuils below (at the top of the side near Auxey-Duresses); the Clos du Cromin; the Corbins; and the Malpoiriers at the north end of Meursault, near Volnay. This Meursault conveys the elegance and prettiness of this appellation, with roundness, softness, freshness and nuances of hazelnuts – all typical features of Meursault in all its finesse.
Here too there is a whiff of petrol to the pretty aromas of acacia blossom, hazelnut and essence of pear. On the palate there is also fine volume to the caressing and attractively textured medium-bodied flavors that possess good fat while exhibiting fine length on the balanced finale. 88 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound June 2019
Pale, bright yellow. Aromas of ripe stone fruits, lemon peel, anise and flowers. Densely packed but light on its feet, showing subtle salinity to its fresh fruit flavors. A distinctly pretty wine with lovely acid lift. 88-90 points. Stephen Tanzer, Vinous Media September 2018
2017 Latour-Giraud Meursault Narvaux RRP $140
The famous 16-hectare Narvaux climat is situated in the highest vineyards of the village, at the tip of the top premiers crus. Grown on thin, poor soil and substrata (multiple layers of lava), the wine takes the best features of the soil. The wine has fantastic finesse and aromatic complexity, while the palate has abundant elegance, complexity and length.
A less expressive if more complex nose features notes of lemon-lime, white peach, floral and a hint of grilled nuts. The succulent but racy medium weight flavors exude evident minerality while delivering very fine length. This needs to develop a bit more depth with time in bottle but the underlying material appears to be present for that to occur. 89 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound June 2019
Slightly hazy light yellow. Sexy scents of lemon, orange zest, ginger, minerals and white pepper. Supple but with a light touch, showing lovely mineral lift to its flavors of citrus fruits, spices and anise. Nicely balanced wine with average acidity and a slightly dusty finish. Latour compares this to the 2015 version but notes that this wine has more vivacity and tension in the mouth. 89-92 points. Stephen Tanzer, Vinous Media September 2018
2017 Latour-Giraud Meursault 1er Cru Charmes RRP $206
The names Charmes was first mentioned back in 1366, and is a corruption of Chaume, which means land without vegetation. The land is flat with deep soil that grows frank, strong wines that are characterised more by intensity than finesse. The size of the vineyard (at 31 hectares, it’s the largest premier cru in Meursault) makes it difficult to generalise, but hazelnuts, butter, peach and vanilla characters are common. And it’s always pronounced. Domaine Latour-Giraud owns 50 ares of vines divided between lower and upper Charmes, which produce one bold cuvée, deep and fat, with a heady bouquet and rich texture.
A ripe and quite spicy nose offers up notes of honeysuckle, white peach, roasted nut and a hint of acacia. The exceptionally rich, even opulent flavors coat the palate with dry extract before terminating in a clean, intense and discreetly mineral-suffused finale. I really like the sappy, even seductive, texture thanks to the abundant extract and this should age effortlessly. 92 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound June 2019
(aging in 25% new oak): Pale-medium yellow. Subtly perfumed nose combines lemon drop, nectarine, mirabelle and hazelnut. Strong and sappy but smooth as well, showing lovely fruit intensity and depth. A firm mineral underpinning contributes to the wine’s impression of precision and youthful linearity, and its touch of sweetness is perfectly buffered by sound acidity. A very refined, fine-grained, promising Charmes with noteworthy energy and rising length. The crop level here was a reasonable 39 hectoliters per hectare, according to Jean-Pierre Latour. 91-94 points. Stephen Tanzer, Vinous Media September 2018
2017 Latour-Giraud Meursault 1er Cru Genevrières RRP $206
The vineyards of Genevrières total 16 hectares in the heart of the Meursault premiers crus, south of the village. The name of the appellation comes from the juniper trees that used to grow there. Domaine Latour-Giraud is the most important owner of this fabulous premier cru, with 2.5Ha. Along with Perrières, this would be considered by most to be Meursault’s top premier cru. The wines have exquisite structure. Round, deep and smooth, it also has great elegance, finesse and raciness.
A softly wooded and slightly more elegant nose displays a subtle exoticism on the cool acacia blossom, lemon, Asian-style tea and white fruit aromas. There is a lovely sense of underlying tension to the more evidently mineral-driven flavors that don’t possess the same richness or volume but are markedly finer on the highly persistent if ever-so-mildly warm bone dry finish. This isn’t quite as fine as the Bouchères but offers slightly better overall depth and persistence. 93 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound June 2019
(the crop level was just 35 hectoliters per hectare owing to losses during the flowering): Bright, light yellow with a green tinge. Captivating aromas of lemon, lime and powdered stone, with riper peach and apricot scents emerging with air. In a gentle, distinctly creamy style and balanced from the start, already conveying sexy sweetness to its fruit-driven flavors of stone fruits and lime flower. Finishes very smooth and long. One feels the evidence of the late-August heat; today this wine seems lower in acidity than the Charmes but it’s fat and ripe and should be a popular style. This fruit bomb should benefit from the firming effect of a second winter in barrel. 91-93 points. Stephen Tanzer, Vinous Media September 2018
2017 Latour-Giraud Meursault 1er Cru Genevrières ‘Cuvée des Pierre’ RRP $264
From 50+ year old vines.
Touches of matchstick character and the exotic add breadth to the cool and overtly spicy green fruit and citrus peel-scented aromas. There is more volume to the almost painfully intense middle weight flavors that possess excellent cut before terminating in a mineral-driven, bitter lemon-inflected and slightly warm finish that delivers fine length. The old vines are in evidence as this is a big and unusually powerful Genevrières. 92 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound June 2019
(Latour has three barrels of this juice, one new, one once-used and one twice-used): Pale, bright yellow. Very pure, minerally aromas of underripe pineapple, soft citrus fruits, white pepper, hazelnut, wild herbs and menthol. Thick, concentrated and very deep, conveying a powerful impression of solidity. The wine’s pronounced soft citrus fruit sweetness is counterpointed by salty minerality. Most impressive today on the slowly mounting, savory finish, which boasts terrific building energy. This sappy, utterly seamless wine would be unctuous were it not for its 4.5 g/l acidity, the highest among these 2017s. Owing to the advanced age of these vines and to heat during the flowering, the yield here was just 20 hectoliters per hectare, according to Latour, who added that this wine “gives the real image of the vintage.” I disagree, as there are very few 2017 premier crus at the quality level of this one. 93-95 points. Stephen Tanzer, Vinous Media September 2018
2017 Latour-Giraud Meursault 1er Cru Perrières RRP $223
The Perrières appellation is spread over 13 hectares and is divided into four parts between Blagny and Charmes. Along with Genevrières, it is the finest of the Meursault premiers crus. Its name comes from an old underground quarry which used to provide stones for building the village itself.
Domaine Latour-Giraud owns a little plot of 14 ares, which produces a sumptuous, brilliant and complex wine with almond nuances.
This too is wonderfully elegant with its airy and distinctly cool blend of mineral reduction, green apple, spiced pear and jasmine tea. The sleek, sophisticated and focused middle weight flavors brim with both dry extract and an almost pungent minerality on the textured and exceptionally intense finish that goes on and on. This is really lovely though note well that at least some patience will be required. 93 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound June 2019
(one of the three barrels was new, the other two from 2015): Bright, light yellow with a green tinge. Ripe but reticent nose hints at pineapple, dusty rock and marzipan (one of the three barrels is going through an oxidative phase). Sappy, thick and palate-saturating, with its mineral density leavening this very rich wine’s sweetness of fruit. Not a creamy style but finishes with impressive building length, excellent savory grip and an absence of hard edges. Latour describes this wine as “not too large,” noting that he picked the fruit early, on August 28 or 29. 91-93 points. Stephen Tanzer, Vinous Media September 2018
2017 Latour-Giraud Puligny-Montrachet Champ Canet RRP $223
The 1er Cru vineyard of Champ Canet covers four hectares. Its wines tend to be delicate rather than sumptuous. Domaine Latour-Giraud owns 34 ares of vines in the north of the climat, planted on thin, stony soils. They produce a very elegant and fine wine with a slight floral bouquet, with a supple texture, sophisticated smoky nuances and almond notes on the finish.
This too is very pretty if slightly riper and a bit more expressive as well with its array of essence of poached pear and apple scents that are trimmed in soft spice and white flower nuances. There is fine volume to the solidly concentrated medium-bodied flavors that are at once caressing yet punchy, all wrapped in a lingering if slightly warm finish. This too is really quite good and a wine that should reward up to a decade of cellaring. 92 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound June 2019
(25% new oak): Bright, light yellow. Peach, nut oils and hazelnut on the nose; also conveying a hint of tiredness from a barrel in an oxidative phase. Broad on entry, then rich, thick and concentrated but quite dry in the middle palate. Turns tighter, more linear and more classic on the back end, finishing with resounding flavors of stone fruits, citrus peel and stony minerality. The crop level was 40 hectoliters per hectare, according to Latour. 91-93 points. Stephen Tanzer, Vinous Media September 2018
2017 Latour-Giraud Pommard 1er Cru Refène RRP $190
The Refène climat is situated at the heart of the Pommard premiers crus, at the top of the village and next to the Clos de la Commaraine. It extends over 2.4Ha, and Domaine Latour owns 26 ares. The wine produced is typical of Pommard 1er Cru: rich, full-bodied and intense, with amplitude ahead of grace. Its powerful bouquet, its vibrant colour and its somewhat square structure are counterbalanced by earthy and smoky notes, and considerable length.
Slightly riper liqueur-like yet still appealingly fresh aromas of red raspberry and cherry are laced with hints of spice and earth. There is fine mid-palate density to the delicious medium-bodied flavors that are both bigger and bolder before culminating in a serious and moderately austere but not really rustic finale. Patience will be required here as well. 90 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound June 2019
2017 Latour-Giraud Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chênes RRP $190
Volnay’s 1er Cru vineyards begin in the mid-slope, sitting on shallow soils rich in iron on a rocky subsoil, producing intense wines that are deep in colour and rich and complex in flavour. The vineyards of the Clos des Chênes, named for the oak groves that were once found here, make up the largest of Volnay’s premiers crus, occupying 15.5 ares at the top of the village. Domaine Latour-Giraud owns 26 ares near the top of the hill. The clay contained in this patch adds strength and body to the delicacy of this wine, complemented by a silky palate and lovely woody notes on the bouquet.
Here the cool nose is at once more elegant and higher-toned with its array of fresh and ripe essence of dark berry fruit, warm earth and reserve of spice elements. The caressing yet markedly powerful larger-scaled flavors possess fine mid-palate concentration while exhibiting excellent power and drive on the muscular finish. This is presently quite tightly wound and it will need at least half a dozen years to become more civilized. 92 points. Allen Meadows, Burghound June 2019