Spotlight on White Burgundy: Latour-Labille “clos des meix chavaux” Meursault 2008

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The time has come to move into the Cote d’Or, Burgundy’s famed heartland and home to some of the rarest, most expensive, and greatest wines in the world. White wines, of course, are ruled by Chardonnay (despite a spattering of mostly uninteresting Aligote), the best of which come from the famed villages of the Cote de Beaune: Puligny, Chassagne, Meursault, and Aloxe-Corton.

While I will traverse each of these villages in turn, I think it apt to begin with perhaps the most widely seen: Meursault.

Where Are You Grand Cru?

Though there are no grand cru vineyards in Meursault, it has a number of highly regarded premier crus that make some of the best Chardonnays in Burgundy: in particular, Perrieres, Charmes and Genevrieres, and Goutte d’Or. Beyond those there are quite a few single vineyard wines at the village level, like this one, that can also offer very high quality for lower prices than Puligny-Montrachet or Chassagne-Montrachet.

One the keys to Meursault’s unique character is the extra time it spends in cask. This is made possible by the lower water table in Meursault compared to, for example, Puligny-Montrachet, which allows winemakers in Meursault to dig deeper cellars that protect better against winter cold.

The Tropics in Burgundy

Formed in 1998, Latour-Labille (now renamed Domaine Vincent Latour), is an offshoot of the famous Latour family, which has been making wine in Burgundy since the 18th century. This is a small winery, focusing on Meursault. They use almost entirely old oak in an attempt to minimize oak flavours in their wines and do not use any battonage, instead looking for purity and delicacy. Latour-Labille also harvests manually, performs whole grape pressing and raises the wines in used oak for 12 months. This particular wine comes from a village-level vineyard to the west of Meursault.

I found the nose quite surprising, expecting far more citrus than was apparent. Rather, I smelled guava, pineapple and orange. The palate is broad, and quite rich and ripe, even for Meursault, though it certainly avoids the boring flavours associated with over-oaking and batonnage. I tend to prefer slightly more taught Chardonnay, with a little more poise and forward acidity. Here the fruit seems to have been either picked quite late or ripened to an unusual phase of development. Or, perhaps, what I am tasting is simply the terroir of this site? Overall I found the wine somewhat cloying and a serious disappointment for Meursault single vineyard material, lacking balance and sophistication. This is a shame given that I generally quite like the wines from this producer. This is not a typical example of Meursault and I would seek something else out for your first experience.

Very Good
~$70 at kits wine


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