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Latour brings love of Burgundy to JWU students in Charlotte

By Catherine Rabb
Catherine Rabb
Catherine Rabb is co-owner of Fenwick's and an associate instructor at Johnson & Wales University.

What does one of the most famed wine producers in France want future American chefs to know about wine from Burgundy?

Louis-Fabrice Latour spoke with a group of Johnson & Wales students during a recent visit to the Charlotte campus about Burgundy, the Latour family’s history, and their wines.

On the wine, Latour noted an old French saying that he believes to be true: “Burgundy respects the food.”

While pouring a wine sample, Latour joked, “It’s always been my dream to see more Americans drink more Burgundy, because it’s so good for food matching.”

In France, Burgundy is a region noted for producing high-quality wines from pinot noir and chardonnay grapes.

Latour is President of Maison Louis Latour, a family firm that has been producing wine in Burgundy since 1797. The family was making wine in the region well before the business was formed. His father spent 20 years after he retired writing a book about winemaking in Burgundy after the Middle Ages.

Louis-Fabrice, the seventh Louis to run the family firm, talked about the quality of Burgundy wine as a result of the quality of the grapes, with minimal manipulation at the winery.

“We are humble,” he said. “We have good juice, and if we don’t mess with it too much, we’ll make a good wine. We don’t want to upset the wine with too much intervention.”

Students were intrigued by the responsibility of running a company with so much history. Charming and energetic, Latour captivated students with his love of Burgundy and its history, but also with his enthusiasm about the future of the region. Latour is active in local organizations, and has long been an advocate for good environmental stewardship. The firm has expanded, buying land in Chablis and Beaujolais, and has worked to create new markets. Latour now exports to over 100 countries.

Latour spoke about his work in China, where the firm’s history of being family-owned and operated for generations has a positive impact on the market.

Latour conducted a small “Latour de France” tasting of some of the wines in the Latour portfolio. The wines were very attractive, with fresh fruit character, appealing levels of acidity and moderate alcohol as a common characteristic in all the styles.

Students sitting near me were snapping pictures of labels and writing possible menu ideas as they tasted the wines. If the next generation’s enjoyment is an indication, Louis-Fabrice’s dream of Americans drinking more Burgundy may not be so far from reality.

Catherine Rabb is co-owner of Fenwick’s and a senior instructor at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte. Email: Catherine.rabb@jwu.edu.

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