Winemaking

Winemaking of Domaine Louis Latour white and red wines:

White Wines


White wine vinification differs from the reds in that the grapes from the harvest go directly into the press. The pressed grape juice, called must, then undergoes a rapid fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The wine is transferred into French oak barrels where it continues to age for a period of approximately 10 months.

The wine undergoes racking before the final blending.

 

Red Wines

Maison Louis Latour respects Burgundian traditions for the vinification of its red wines from the harvest to the final product. Only the finest grapes are selected and placed into traditional French oak vats for a short period of fermentation.

Once fermentation is complete, the wine is drained from the vats. This is called free-run wine. All grape skins and pips are then removed manually and pressed. The press wine is blended with the free-run wine and spends approximately 12 months in barrel. It undergoes several rackings to clear it of any deposit that may have collected.

 

After bottling, the wine is allowed to settle for a further 6 months before distribution.

 

Winemaking of white wines in detail:


Harvest

A rigorous selection of the ripest grapes take place in the vineyards before the bunches are placed in traditional Burgundian wicker baskets and transported as quickly as possible to the winery.

 

Pressing

The grapes are left with their stems intact before passing through a crusher, situated directly above the pneumatic press. The stems form excellent drainage channels in the press allowing us to extract the maximum amount of juice from each bunch. The grapes are carefully pressed for about 2 hours, avoiding the extraction of the harsh flavours present in the pips.

 

Fermentation

The must is transferred into stainless steel vats, thus ensuring that fermentation commences uniformly. A vigorous fermentation, that lasts two to three days, takes place before the partially-fermented wine is transferred into oak barrels. Here the fermentation will continue for approximately 12 more days. At Maison Louis Latour only indigenous yeasts are responsible for fermentation. All of the Domaine's white wines are aged in 100% new French oak barrels that are produced at the company's cooperage in Beaune.

 

Racking

This process is the clearing of the wine of any dead yeast, called lees, and sediment that has collected at the bottom of the barrel. The wine is left on its lees for as long as possible to gain in complexity and finesse.

 

The white wines are racked off their lees twice during the 10 month ageing period: firstly, after the completion of malo-lactic fermentation, and secondly, just before bottling. Traditionally this is performed using gravity by allowing the clear wine to be run off from one barrel into a clean barrel situated beneath it.

 

Blending

As with the reds, the blending, or assemblage, of various barrels takes place once the ageing of the wines is complete. All the barrels are blended together in stainless steel vats and left to marry with one another over a period of several months. This ensures the consistency of a specific wine made from various plots of the same appellation.

Upon completion the wine is fined in order to clear of the wine from any unwanted particles that may have collected in vat. A final filtration and a short period of cold stabilisation will further ensure the clarity of the wine once it reaches the glass.


Winemaking of red wines in detail:


Harvest

The key consideration when deciding the time of harvest time is the ripeness and condition of the grapes. At Maison Louis Latour the winemakers believe that 80% of the finished wine's quality is a result of work done in the vineyards. All of the red grapes are picked manually. 

The grapes are put into traditional wicker baskets, designed to prevent the grapes from being crushed when stacked onto the tractors.

 

Selection

Upon arrival at the winery, the grapes are transferred onto the selection table, consisting of a vibrating conveyor-belt installed on an upward angle. Three or four people on either side throw out unripe or rotten grapes. At the top of the table the grapes fall into a crusher/de-stemmer. All the stems are removed to avoid harsh tannic flavours in the final wine and a light crushing favours quick fermentation. (The stems can either be distilled into Marc or ploughed back into the vineyards as fertiliser).

The de-stemmed, crushed grapes then drop into copper wagons that are unique to Maison Louis Latour and are carried up by elevator to the first floor of the winery. Hence, gravity is used to avoid pumping the must, thus reducing risks of oxidation.

 

Fermentation

The copper wagons have a double lining in which steam can be circulated to heat up the must to start fermentation during cold weather.

By pulling out the plug at the bottom of the wagon the crushed grapes drop into the fermentation vat. Each of the 45 large oak vat ferments the grapes from a particular vineyard, for example, vat n° 14 is used to ferment grapes from the Corton Clos du Roi parcel every year.

The temperature inside the vats will naturally rise to about 34° but thereafter cold-water radiators stabilise the temperature between 24-28°C for the remainder of the fermentation period. The philosophy at Maison Louis Latour is to make traditional-style, ruby-coloured wines, appreciated for their delicacy and finesse. In order to achieve this, skin contact is kept to a minimum, lasting 12-15 days.


Pigeage

Maison Louis Latour relies entirely on wild or indigenous yeasts for the fermentation of the grapes. As a natural result of fermentation, carbon dioxide gas forces the solid skins and pips to the surface of the vat to form the cap. In order to extract the colour from the skins, these solids have to be trodden down to make contact with the fermenting juice underneath, called must. At Maison Louis Latour this process of pigeage is still done by foot two or three times a day.


De-vatting

Chemical analyses are done twice a day to carefully determine the progress of the fermentation process. Upon completion, the young wine, called free-run wine, is drained off through special wicker baskets. These act as a crude but highly efficient filter system to leave the skins and pips in the vat. These are then forked out by hand and taken to the press. Once empty, each vat is carefully cleaned and perfectly maintained until the following year's harvest.

 

Pressing

A pneumatic bladder presses the pips and skins to extract more colour, fruit and tannin. The deep-coloured press wine is then blended with the free-run wine. The dry skins left at the bottom of the press are either distilled to make Marc de Bourgogne, or ploughed back into the soil along with the stems that were removed earlier. 

The blended wine is transferred into oak barrels of 228 litres (300 bottles) and is aged for 10 to 12 months in the cellars below the winery. New barrels are only used for ageing a percentage of the wine, in order to preserve the inherent elegance and finesse of the Pinot Noir grape.

 

Racking

Dead yeast cells suspended in the wine gradually sink to the bottom of the barrel to form the lees. The wine is racked off its lees into clean barrels and topped up. This process is repeated twice before final preparation and bottling. 


Malo-lactic fermentation, which converts hard malic acid into soft lactic acid, takes place during the 6 months following the wine's transfer into barrel. All Latour wines undergo malo-lactic fermentation.
The quality of each barrel is ensured before deciding which barrels will go into the final blend. 
Finally, the wine is filtered before bottling.


Blending and final preparation

The quality of each barrel is ensured before deciding which barrels will go into the final blend. 

Finally, the wine is filtered before bottling.