Yesterday

Yesterday

The oldest document mentioning Latour dates from 1331 and is an authorization granted to Gaucelme de Castillon by Lord Pons to build a fortified tower in the parish of Saint Maubert. Château Latour then appears in the Jean Froissart's "Chronicles" in 1378. This was the time of the Hundred Years War and the "Tour de Saint Maubert" was a fortress to guard the estuary, manned by Breton soldiers for the King of France. After a three-day siege, the Anglo-Gascon army seized the fortress and installed a garrison. Latour was a jointly held lord's domain until the end of the 16th century, whose co-owners received rents from the farmers who cultivated the land. At that time, the domain was not entirely covered by vines and production largely exceeded requirements. There was no proper storage for the wine and it had to be drunk within the year. The estate remained in the hands of the Mullet family until the late 17th century, and while direct use of the land gradually replaced the leasing system, the wine-making situation changed very little. Through inheritances and successive marriages, Latour became the property of Alexandre de Ségur, who was nicknamed the "Prince of the Vines" by Louis XV. The château's real wine history began with the arrival of this family. Just before his death in 1716, Alexandre de Ségur acquired Lafite. His son, Nicolas-Alexandre, President of the Parliament of Bordeaux, further enlarged the family's estates in 1718 with the acquisition of Mouton and Calon. In the early 18th century, England's aristocracy and wealthy middle classes developed refined tastes, particularly for wine, from Bordeaux, Oporto, Jerez and other southern vineyards. Wine exports had been restricted by various blockades imposed by the wars, but now enjoyed a period of relative freedom and trade with Bordeaux grew rapidly. This new economic environment also changed the structure of the Médoc estates which expanded and became of increasing interest to the local bourgeoisie and the parliamentary nobility. Very quickly, the wines of the best estates, including Latour, stood out in terms of quality and price. In 1714, a barrel of Latour was worth four to five times more than a barrel of typical Bordeaux wine. By 1729 the ratio had risen to thirteen and by 1767 to twenty. As a result of this flourishing trade, the estate gradually came to specialise in wine production, with 38 hectares of vines in 1759 and 47 hectares in 1794. Remarkably detailed records of this period are available, kept by the stewards of the estate, who regularly corresponded with the owners. During the revolution the estate was prevented, with some difficulty, from being broken up, and, most importantly, stayed in the same family. By 1842 successive inheritances had increased the number of co-owners and these were assembled to form a Société Civile (a non-trading company), which, until 1962, was made up exclusively of descendants of the Ségur family. But their very large number resulted in the sale of most of the shares: the English financial group Pearson became the majority shareholder with 53% and Harveys of Bristol, which was subsequently bought by the Allied Lyons group, acquired a 25% stake. In 1989, Allied Lyons bought out Pearson to hold 93% of the shares, with the other 7% remaining in the Ségur family.
In June 1993, Mr François Pinault bought the Allied Lyons' stake via his holding company Artémis. Château Latour thus became French again, after thirty years of British control.