Latour, Louis

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Latour, Louis, one of Burgundy’s most commercially astute, and oldest, merchants. Jean Latour first planted vines in Aloxe-Corton, then called simply Aloxe, in 1768; his family had grown vines on the plain to the east of Beaune since the 16th century. Jean’s son was the first in a long line of Louis Latours and enlarged the domaine considerably and it was not until the late 19th century that the family added wine brokering to their vine-growing activities.

With an eye to the developing export markets, the third Louis Latour bought the Lamarosse family’s négociant business in Beaune’s historic Rue des Tonneliers in 1867, and was so successful that in 1891 he was able to buy Ch Corton-Grancey in Aloxe-Corton, one of the earliest purpose-built, gravity-fed wineries in the world. With this acquisition came one of the most handsome, and most photographed, houses in the Côte d’Or, together with extensive winemaking premises, and some notable vineyards around the hill of Corton to add to the Latour family holdings, which already included some Chambertin; Romanée-St-Vivant, Les Quatre Journaux; and Chevalier-Montrachet, Les Demoiselles. (Today Domaine Louis Latour represents the largest single holding of Grand Cru vineyards on the côte d’or.) It was the third Louis Latour who is reputed to have realized the hill of Corton’s potential for great white wine when he replanted some of the hill now designated Corton-Charlemagne with Chardonnay vines after phylloxera had laid waste vineyards originally planted with Pinot Noir and Aligoté.