Since 1331

The
origines

Château Latour has played an important role in the region's history. Knowledge of the past is valuable in helping us to understand the property's current reputation. Fortunately, numerous archives have been preserved over the centuries enabling us to establish an accurate picture of the past. This unique heritage shows us an extraordinary stability and continuity in the life of the property and those who have worked there during its long history, which has no doubt been an important factor in the exceptional regularity and quality of the wines.

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.

The Foundations

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 property was not entirely covered by vines and yet 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.
As a result of successive marriages and inheritances, Château Latour became the property of Alexandre de Ségur, who quickly acquired a considerable collection of properties in the Médoc. The château's real wine history began with the arrival of this family. Just before his death in 1716, Alexandre de Ségur acquired Château Lafite. His son, Nicolas-Alexandre, was dubbed the « Prince of the Vines » by Louis XV. President of the Parliament of Bordeaux, he further enlarged the family's estates in 1718 with the acquisition of plots from Mouton and Calon.

Golden Age

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 Château 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. Recognition of Château Latour was already very well-established.

As a result of this flourishing trade, the estate gradually came to specialise in wine production, with 38 hectares of vines in 1759 and then 47 hectares by 1794. Remarkably detailed records of this period are available, kept by the estate’s stewards, who regularly corresponded with the owners; there is also a wealth of often highly entertaining anecdotes about life at Château Latour.



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, who formed a Société Civile (a non-trading company), which, until 1962, was made up exclusively of descendants of the Ségur family. The property thus benefited from a quite exceptional location and the unique terroir was given « first growth » or « premier cru » ranking in the official 1855 classification, alongside Lafite-Rothschild, Margaux, Haut-Brion and, since 1973, Mouton-Rothschild. However, over time, the large number of heirs 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.

A new era

In the years since 1993, under the leadership of François Pinault, significant changes have been made with a view to upholding Château Latour's pursuit of excellence in the wines that it produces.
In 1998, Frédéric Engerer, who joined the estate early in 1995, was appointed Manager. Major works started in November 1999 and continued until September 2003. A total renovation of the winery, vat room, wine making facilities and storage areas enabled even greater precision in the production of the wines. A new technical team was also created. In 2012, we undertook further work to enlarge the workspace and create a new ageing cellar, following the decision to no longer sell the Château’s wines en primeur.

Mr François PINAULT


Under the chairmanship of Frédéric Engerer, Hélène Génin is the property’s Technical Director, joining the Cellar Master, Pierre-Henri Chabot, and Vineyard Manager, Domingo Sanchez, in an ongoing quest for perfection. This quest is upheld by the efforts of everyone in the seventy-strong team working at Château Latour, in the vineyard and the winery. A wide variety of experiments is constantly being carried out in order to judge the suitability of new procedures. This might for example involve biodynamic methods or new traceability systems, the quest is always for precision, quality, respect of the environment, and awareness of new issues.

Mr François PINAULT


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