Wed | Dec 7, 2016

Adventure in wine country

Published:Sunday | October 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM
The final tasting - five floors down.
Ancient Wines - 200-year-old Vintages, Louis Latour private cellar.-Contributed Photos
Tom and Bruno at Chateau Corton Grancey.
Michael Turner, CPJ Wines category manager.
The Saint-Veran pairs beautifully with light cheeses and seafood. Its chalky texture is perfect for Brie and dry crackers. With seafood, look no further than your classic 'mussels in white wine and cream sauce'.
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It's adventure in wine country! Over the next few months, join the Outlook as we relay the adventures of CPJ's CEO Tom Tyler and Mike Turner, wines category manager, as they travel across France to some of the world's finest wineries.

Day 1 - Louis Latour, Burgundy

Maison Louis Latour

Founded in 1797, Maison Louis Latour has more than two centuries of Burgundian history. Authentic to its roots, the house has remained family owned and is currently managed by the 11th generation of the Latour family.

Each generation remains as passionate as the last, to preserve the unique heritage, spirit and vision of Louis Latour. The estate encompasses just over 50 hectares of Burgundy's finest vineyards, producing more than one million bottles of wines a year. An exceptional collection of appellations allow Louis Latour to produce formidable quality and consistency in their wines. In total, 130 different wines are vinified each year. The house aims to create two distinct expressions for their respective white and red wines.

Louis Latour whites wines, like Chablis and Mersault, aim to be structured, rich and well balanced. The red wines, like Nuits St Georges and Gervey Chambertin, are to be delicate, elegant and distinguished.

Our day at Louis Latour

Team CPJ - Tom Tyler and Mike Turner (CEO & wines category manager at CPJ)

Team Louis Latour - Bruno Pepin (commercial director at Maison Louis Latour)

Where - Louis Latour headquarters in the city of Beaune.

Our Burgundian adventure starts in the quaint and beautiful town of Beaune. The city is the unofficial 'Wine Capital' of the Cte d'Or. The thriving town's existence is in the making, tasting and, most important, drinking of some of the world's best wines.

To help us see the very best, Tom and I are greeted by Bruno Pepin. With introductions out of the way, we move straight into the heart of Louis Latour headquarters for our first tasting.

Bruno is quick to bring me up to speed on the purpose of this first sampling, and that is appreciation - appreciation that not all grapes are created equal. Burgundy is famous for only producing one white wine and one red wine. The whites are all Chardonnay, the reds are all Pinot Noir. What Bruno wants us to appreciate are the fantastic variations and expressions that these two grapes can produce.

He explains that the composure of a wine derives directly from where it is grown, this is known as its terroir. The blend of soil, weather and climate develops the minerality, acid and overall profile of the wine. Minor changes in any of the above are compounded over time and allow each wine to become truly unique.

The tasting is a master class. Bruno walks us through the aromas, notes and textures of each wine - all the while describing each appellation in precise detail. His knowledge is one that can only be achieved through a lifetime spent in Burgundy. Tasting, however, is just the beginning.

We hop into Bruno's car and, within minutes, are surrounded by beautiful vineyards. We're on our way to the famous Chteau Corton Grancey in Aloxe-Corton.

The winery was the first purpose-built 'cuverie' in France! A unique railway system with elevators that allow the entire wine-making process to be achieved by the use of gravity, we navigate through the various levels, following the exact trail the grapes would take on its journey to becoming wine.

The final stop on our tour is the private cellars, and this is where we have our final treat. Bruno has organised a tasting of Grand-Cru wines in the heart of the cuverie, five floors underground! Surrounded by bottles well over 100 years old, we sample some of Louis Latour's finest. The combination of tradition and iconic wines make for a truly unforgettable finish to a fantastic day.

Highlight of the day

On our way to Chteau Corton Grancey, Bruno made sure to stop by possibly the world's most famous vineyard. It is, of course, Montrachet. The plot is more than seven hectares in total and will run you just over EU20,000,000 per hectare! However, many believe this to be the home of the world's greatest dry, white wine.

Mike's pick

Louis Latour Saint-Veran

Among all the beautiful red wines we had throughout the day, a white trumped everyone! Expressive with subtle notes of honeysuckle and a mineral finish, the Saint-Veran was excellent!

Wine 101

Appellation - a legally defined and protected geographical area used to identify where the grapes of wine are grown. This is commonly listed on the labels of wines in France.