It's an ill wind that blows no one any good. Stéphanie de Boüard at least may be rather grateful for the storm in a wine glass caused by Château Latour's first release of direct-from-the-château stock on Tuesday. There is so much for the Bordelais to gossip about re the first growth's bold pre-primeurs move that the recent communication from Château Angélus may seem like small beer.
As reported here, Latour's director Frédéric Engerer announced this time last year that the first growth would be going it alone and leaving the hallowed primeur system from the 2012 vintage, about to be presented to the media and trade early next month. (The most powerful critic of all, Robert Parker, is currently in Bordeaux tasting away - though he may have one or two distractions.)
Now one of the most powerful négociants in Bordeaux has declined Latour's offer of 1995s, all specially Prooftagged to stave off fraud and, inconveniently, cheaper than some other 1995s from Latour already on the market, as explained by Max Lalondrelle of Berry Bros in this report in Meininger's Wine Business International. As he expanded to me later, 'What I implied was that some negociants and merchants (not us) had previously bought ex -Château 1995 Latour in the 24 months previous to this release in the expectation that by helping Latour on mature stock through the year, they would naturally be looked after when it comes to the primeur times … Unfortunately, because the primeur is out of the picture some negociants will have bought some more expensive stocks previously, purchased at a higher price which might have been devalued by the latest release, both in terms of price but also because they are not Prooftagged. As far as BBR are concerned, we had no such problems as we had sold our last '95 ex -Château purchase and have successfully sold 50 cases from this new release. However, Mr Patrick Bernard has yesterday declared during a Chex -Château owners' tasting that he had refused his allocation. I came to the above conclusion as to the reason of his exit. This also applies to Duclot.'
You can still buy these blue-chip 1995s, straight from the recently extended Latour cellar, from the fine-wine traders, but whether you do or not, be assured that Bordeaux's wine traders are not short of conversation. (Nor are American wine writers now that Antonio Galloni's payments from The Wine Advocate have been publicised.) You may like to check out my notes on Ch Latour 1995, Les Forts de Latour 1995 and Pauillac de Latour 1995.