YOU could forgive Burgundy’s influential Maison Louis Latour if it rested on its laurels. After all, its luxurious wines from its 25 acres in prestigious Corton-Charlemagne always seem to find a ready and appreciative market.
Not a bit of it though. Louis-Fabrice Latour – the seventh Louis Latour to head the family business – embraces innovation as enthusiastically as most of his predecessors have. Out in Chablis, for example, the subsidiary company of Simonnet Febvre operates in a new winery so sophisticated that winemaker Jean-Philippe Archambaud can control its fermentation processes from an iPad at home.
For a widely available example of its wines, try the cultured and fresh 2013 Simonnet-Febvre Chablis Premier Cru Montmains (£18.99 at Waitrose), which embellishes its lemon, apple and star anise flavours with restrained acidity and an appealing mineral backdrop.
Even more important though is the development of new vineyards. Southeast of Chablis in Coteaux de L’Auxois, the company is developing sites that grow chardonnay, but also have blocks of the largely unknown auxerrois. Clearly the results are a work in progress, but the bright, lemon and green apple components of its auxerrois chardonnay blend promise much.
Further south still – in Southern Beaujolais – Maison Louis Latour has a major wine project in the Pierres Dorees region. Early results there are yielding bright – if uncomplicated – cherry-based, pinot noir (rather than the more predictable gamay) with soft tannins, and suggestions of chocolate, clove and mint.
Nevertheless, gamay continues to reign supreme in more traditional Beaujolais areas. For a good, mid-priced, example of what that region does well, try the product of another Latour subsidiary – the light and juicy 2014 Henry Fessy Beaujolais Villages (£9.75 at Oddbins), which offers firm acidity, hints of coffee and a neat violet backdrop to its bright raspberry fruit. n
2013 Caruso e Minini Perricone, Sicily, 13.5 per cent
Perricone is yet another “born again” Italian grape that celebrates its survival with lovely wine. The variety’s naturally robust tannins are carefully controlled here, and balanced with acidity to provide a lively raspberry and redcurrant-centred red with touches of mocha, vanilla and other spices.
£6 instead of £8 until 5 October at M&S
2014 Chemins de Gascogne Blanc, France, 11.5 per cent
The £10 list price is obviously unrealistic but, for a fiver, this light, fresh white from the reliable Plaimont operation is great value. Its colombard component provides orchard fruit texture typical of the region, but the partnership here with sauvignon adds vibrant grapefruit, lemon and orange acidity.
£4.99 instead of £9.99 until Tuesday at Tesco