It would have been perfect had Latour been with us, along with his brilliant winemaker, Andre Tchelistcheff, who crafted the first Cabernet Reserve in 1936.
It fell upon John Reilly of Pacific Wine and Spirits to captivate us with his insights, and Justin Wilson, La Valencia’s food and beverage director, provided the authentic Latour vintages, from 1976 to the present release, the BV 2007 (which sells for $115). Vertical tastings of heritage wines are an education of taste. The 1976 was mature and exotic, with dusty flavors like licorice and chocolate, and big tannins.
The Latour BV vertical tasting guests included: Paul Cheyne of Wine Steals in Cardiff, MC John Rielly, wine manager of Pacific Wine and Spirits, and myself.
As we progressed to 1984, 1987, 1990 and 1996, the winemakers changed and the powerful fruit, OK with a deep ruby color, started to assert itself. Then, in the 2003 and 2007, the winemaker Jefferey Stambon introduced the Private Reserve Latour Cabernet. The strength of black fruits like dark cherry, licorice, black olive and even a hint of peppercorn vaulted the taste to an all-time excellence. The wines are bold, passionate statements of Rutherford quality.
“Beau Lieu” means “beautiful place” in French. It was named by the Latour family when they set their eyes on the original 100 or so acres they had purchased back in 1900.
The same can be said for the petite, handsome Sky Room where this wine event took place. Renovated to complement its 180-degree views of the Pacific Ocean, it’s located on the tenth floor of the historic La Valencia Hotel and has a small, intimate bar. The wine is smartly served with Riedel Stemware and it has a menu that changes monthly.
As John Rielly said, “credit the La Valencia for the patience to store and cultivate the fine wines of Latour over the years so that we may enjoy them today.”