Latour, Château

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Latour, Château, famously long-lived first growth in the médoc region of bordeaux. The originally square tower from which the château takes its name was one of a defensive line against ocean-going pirates. Vines were already planted here in the late 14th century and at least a quarter of the land was vineyard by 1600. At the end of the 17th century, a number of smallholdings were accumulated into one ownership under the de Mullet family. The New French Clarets they produced made their first publicized appearances in auctions in London coffee houses early in the 18th century. Owned from 1677 by the Clauzel family, it passed by marriage to the powerful ségurs, who also owned lafite, mouton, and Calon-Ségur. On the death in 1755 of the Marquis Nicolas-Alexandre de Ségur, ‘Le Prince des Vignes’, his properties passed to his four daughters, three of whom in 1760 acquired Latour. Their male descendants owned the château, which in 1842 became a private company, until its purchase by the British Pearson family in 1963, with 25% acquired by harveys of bristol, and a diminishing minority remaining in the hands of the French families. The property was greatly improved, with stainless steel tanks controversially installed as fermentation vessels in time for the 1964 vintage, partly on the advice of director Harry waugh. In 1989, the estate was sold to multinational corporation Allied-Lyons, already owners of Harveys, for the equivalent of £110 million. In 1993, Allied-Lyons sold their 94% share of the property to French businessman François Pinault (who acquired the London auction house of Christie’s in 1998), when Latour was valued at £86 million.