A Month of Harvest Part II: The Wines of Burgundy's Louis Latour

Hello there. If you're a regular reader of our newsletter, feel free to skip the Copy & Pasted first two paragraphs below from last weeks email detailing the wine harvest. Scroll on down to paragraph three on Burgundy. Or feel free to have a refresher and re-read.


Harvesting is the process of gathering a ripe crop from the fields. In winemaking, this is the picking of grapes and creating the finished product. The time of harvest is determined primarily by the ripeness of the grape as measured by sugar, acid and tannin levels with winemakers basing their decision to pick based on the style of wine they wish to produce. Each harvest year is known as a vintage and the year in which the grapes were grown and picked and then crushed, pressed and fermented is printed on label. The word vintage was first used in the early 15th century. It was adapted from the Old French vendage (wine harvest) deriving from the Latin vindemia (grape-gathering), in turn coming from vinum (wine) and demere (to remove).

Because it's that time of year, we'll be discussing (and more importantly tasting wines from specific places, France mostly), in accordance with the harvest. Depending on how the weather was and the geographical location of the region, harvest can begin as early as August and go as late as towards the end of October. Mostly it's done in September.

Without further ado: Burgundy!

In a nearly secluded, small, north to south moving, thirty mile long region in eastern France comes some of the most exquisite, sought-after and expensive wines in the world. Red or white, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay respectively (and on occasion Aligoté), the wines of Burgundy are shrouded in mystery. Perhaps no other wine perfectly captures the elegance and complexities of terroir, a sense of time and place, quite like they do in that magical land of Burgundy. Compelling, spiritual, sensual, each sip is moving, soul touching. There's a certain flutter in your heart and even sometimes you may go weak in the knees. Drinking a great Burgundy is akin to falling in love.

That's what it's like to experience Burgundy, because it truly is more than just imbibing a beverage. It's sensory and reaches down into the depths of us all. We could go on and on into how beautiful and sexy Burgundy is, but we're pretty sure you get the idea. What we're also not going to do is bore you with the incredible intricacies and minutiae of the region and how this delectable wine gets made and came into being. As for a little history though, the region got its name in the sixth century when a wandering Germanic tribe settled in the area after the fall of the Roman Empire. Said nomadic folks were known as the Burgondes and dubbed the place in which they landed as Burgundia.

Here's what we are going to do. Because one could spend a lifetime delving into the wines of Burgundy (an we really, really wish we could afford to!), we're going to ease into it with the help of none other than Louis Latour. Ok, not the actual man himself, as he established the House back in 1797, two hundred twenty five years ago! Since then, there have been no less than seven Louis Latours to hold the reins of the family house, the most recent of which was Louis-Fabrice Latour, who sadly just passed away last month at the way too young age of 58. His innovations and youthful charm will be sorely missed and his passing is a tragedy in the wine world. On a more positive note however, Maison Latour has been admitted into the extremely exclusive Hénokiens, an association of companies that have not only remained continuously family-owned for over 200 years but still bear the name of the company's original founder.

Only two varietals are legally permissible in Burgundy, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. But like we said above: "(and on occasion Aligoté)." This '(and on occasion Aligoté)' is like 'Y' being a vowel in the English language. There are 5 vowels: A E I O and U... and sometimes Y. For our show this week however, we'll be sticking with just "the main vowels," Pinot Noir and Chard. As one of the largest négociants in Burgundy and producing 130 different appelations, Latour is without question one of the major players in the region. So his assistance as a guide is going to be extremely helpful.

We're going to begin in southern Burgundy, called the Côte de Beaune, in the commune of Montagny which is in the subregion Côte Chalonnaise. (See? Aren't you glad we skipped over all those pesky little minute details?) Anyway, in Montagny, only white wine is made, so we'll start with the Les Buys white Burgundy.

Next up is a cool, little treat! Several Burgundy producers have launched Pinot Noir projects in Oregon over the years. In 2015, Louis-Fabrice launched his own Pinot project, but unlike his counterparts he stayed a little closer to home and planted Pinot Noir in the limestone-rich soil of Beaujolais, claiming with good humor, "This is my Oregon!" So in a place that is dominated by the grape Gamay, we'll be enjoying some Burgundian Pinot Noir.

The city of Dijon is the capital of Burgundy and is at the northern tip of Burgundy. Once out of the city and directly into wine country, you will find yourself in the commune Marsannay. Marsannay is like the gateway into the divine and begins the path of the Route des Grand Crus. The reds here tend to be lively and robust and we're going to find that out for ourselves as we enjoy some.

And finally, we will end, right where we began, in the Côte Chalonnaise. This time though, we'll delve into the commune Mercurey. Once upon a time, the Roman legions had erected a temple to the god Mercury here and from this the commune took its name. The reds here are exquisite and completely underrated. Without question, Mercurey is a Shop favorite and we can't wait for you to try some too!

This tasting is going to be a great time and we're wicked excited about it. Having nothing but Burgundies in a glass for an evening is one hell of a treat. We'll see you there!


The Wine Shop Team



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