Vintage Port: The 2016 vintage port declaration came as no surprise given that the excellent 2015 vintage was passed over in favour of this vintage. The 2016 declaration is the first since the outstanding 2011 vintage and will inevitably draw comparisons. I have now had two tastings of the 2016, one in May and one in September. My overall impression is that the declaration is justified. The wines are lighter in body and at this stage in their evolution. Compared to the 2011 they are more nuanced and perhaps reflective of the winemaker’s skill and house style.
All of the major shippers declared the 2016. The yield is tiny as a cold and wet spring made for a tough start to the year. The very hot weather that followed hampered the ripening process as the vines shut down. The picking season was dry which meant that winemakers could pick the grapes at the optimum ripeness. Production release volumes are very small, for instance only 72 cases were released of the Nacional!
The reception for the 2016 vintage amongst critics has been very positive. James Suckling awarded the 2016 Taylor’s vintage port top marks (100 points). With most shippers such as Cockburn and Grahams scoring well into outstanding category. The ports although approachable in their youth, will be at their optimum between 2025 and 2060+. Prices are quite high for the premium brands due to small yields. However, there are some highly rated, lower cost wines from Skeffington, Burmester and Messias that represent an outstanding quality to price ratio.
In summary, this is a solid vintage declaration. Small production and high ratings make premium brands a solid investment that can be laid down for decades. Great value can be obtained searching out the lesser known producers. (TC – VWP)
The 2015 Vintage Port Harvest
Abundant rainfall marked the start of the viticultural year, replenishing depleted soil water reserves. This was to prove crucial due to the very dry winter, spring and summer that followed which was the hottest and driest of the last 36 years. It was the hottest June of the last half-century resulting in exceptionally low yields at harvest time. The conditions leading up to the harvest were excellent and a little late rain followed by sunshine just before picking offset some of the heat stress to produce some of the best grapes in memory (particularly Touriga Franca)
To declare or not to declare?
The ports produced in the 2015 vintage are, without doubt, outstanding and many producers such as Niepoort, Noval Ramos Pinto have declared the vintage. With small productions and an eye to what will probably be a spectacular 2016 vintage, Taylor Fladgate and Symingtonâ€™s have not declared all of their range producing instead some amazing value single quintas. These companies never make back-to-back declarations. Symingtons have produces a very small quantity of the ultra-rare Graham's Stone Terraces and declared Cockburn to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the shipper.
Having tasted all of the 2015 ports below, our port expert, Dr Tony Carter, has scored all of them above 90 points (outstanding) and rated the Stone Terrace, Dows and Vesuvio in the exceptional category (95+ points). This is in line with other critical reviews. In general, the exceptional showing for the Touriga Franca adds amazing floral qualities across the board. This is supported by a good showing for the Touriga Nacional which adds structure and backbone great ageing potential for these wines. We look forward to revisiting them in 40 years time!
2015 is definitely a vintage for port drinkers. Apart from the rare and limited releases, investors should look towards the 2016 vintage. Port drinkers can find amazing value amongst the single quintas (Fonseca, Taylor's, Croft, Dow's) or pick up some excellent quality vintage ports.
Vintage Port: Rain caused significant damage in the first half of the year, then a cool August didn’t help matters. Yields will be low, quality is not remarkable, and vintage declarations unlikely for most producers apart from Quinta Do Noval and Churchill's who declared a small batch of their 2014 ports.
Italian: In Piedmont the quality of the grapes was high due to a mild winter, early spring and warm summer but production is down by approximately 10% as some areas of Barolo were hit by hail which damaged the Dolcetto grapes. A warm and dry September was especially beneficial for late-ripening grapes such as Nebbiolo and Barbera.
In Tuscany a mild winter and spring led to early flowering, a cool summer impacted the development of the vines but the warm and dry September led to an increase of production by about 10% and good quality wines.
Bordeaux: Exceptionally cool, damp July and August but the vintage was saved by an unusually dry, warm September and October that (just about) ripened the grapes though autumn concentration has resulted in relatively high-acid wines. Reds have fragrance, medium body and supple tannins but are not for long term cellaring. "jancisrobinson.com"
Burgundy: Overall, the vintage was good; after a mild winter, the spring was warm and dry which advanced the development of the vines by about two weeks. Flowering occurred early but high temperatures caused some millerandage (a combination of normal berries with some small, seedless ones).September was warm which ripened the grapes rapidly bringing the grapes to the desired level of maturity in time for harvest.
In Chablis, the extended ripening period from the early flowering and warm September resulted in grapes which were so healthy that on the whole, sorting was only carried out to remove the leaves and has created juice which is very well balanced.
Champagne: Initial reports suggest that a warm, dry September saved the crop from a damper, cooler August. The resulting fruit has good levels of potential alcohol, indicating ample ripeness.
Rhone: Although overall the temperatures were cooler than usual, 2014 has been a much more even vintage than in previous years.
The president of InterRhône said that as the year had been cooler on the whole, “the subtleties of each appellation are more obvious, the taste differences that show the diversity in the soils and the appellations have been accentuated.” The further east into the Rhône you go, the higher the quality, the whites in particular are set to be very good and this year the yields of Grenache are much improved following a very poor year for it in 2013.
Sauternes: A triumph for Sauternes in this vintage, with some botrytis in September and plenty in late October. Some observers are even calling it the best vintage since the turn of the century."jancisrobinson.com"
Spain: The official report from Rioja describes the 2014 harvest as improved in quality and quantity compared to 2013, though they acknowledge some grey rot affected the final week of harvest. Overall a good quality vintage with the best producers obtaining best results.
Vintage Port: The 2013 port vintage produced some exceptional wines for those producers who harvested before the rain. For those who managed to gather the grapes, production quantities were tiny. 2013 was marked by a sunny and dry growing season. By the beginning of the harvest the quality potential was outstanding. Periods of rain during the harvest meant that much of this potential was not fully achieved, but some wonderful lots of high quality wine were made.
Italian: Piedmont: Incessant rain during winter and spring delayed budbreak and opened the door to fungal diseases, although many vineyards were too waterlogged for tractors. From mid July temperatures shot up and remained high during August, albeit with cooler nights. September was very sunny and dry, but the growing cycle was still two weeks late, necessitating a delayed harvest. The prognosis is for a vintage similar in quality to the already legendary 2010s.
Tuscany:Considered a ‘classic vintage’ due to harvest taking place at the beginning of October. (This used to be the norm but the previous two, much warmer, years brought harvests forward to the beginning of September.) A very cool wet spring delayed budbreak by an average of two weeks. A very wet May that encouraged widespread and continued spraying was followed by a cool June. A picture-perfect July, August and September saved the year, one that resulted in elegant, fresh wines. A promising vintage on the whole, with the wines of Montalcino expected to be exceptional. **Sourced by JancisRobinson.com**
Bordeaux: No respite for the growers after two difficult vintages.
There were plenty of challenges right from the start in this vintage – uneven and late flowering following a wet spring, often-violent hailstorms at the end of July and early August, a wet and warm September than meant an attack of rot just before harvest… you name it, the vineyards suffered it during the 2013 vintage. When harvest came around, exhausted winemakers then had to deal with warm but wet weather that in many instances meant they had to harvest early. All in all, a challenging year that rewarded those who were extremely vigilant, and didn’t try to push things too hard once the grapes were finally in the winery.The real success story in 2013 is with the winemaking – there were plenty of producers who worked exceptionally well with the vintage, taking their foot off the pedal and allowing the vibrancy of the fruit to shine through wherever possible. Anyone who tried to cover up unripe fruit with too much oak, or over-extraction, suffered. The best wines have a refreshing drinkability, relatively low alcohol levels, soft fruits and plenty of interest, but by and large this is a vintage to enjoy in the early to mid term.**Sourced from Decanter.com**
Vintage Port: The 2012 port vintage was always going to be in the shadow of the outstanding 2011 vintage. An early drought led to a very small crop but some excellent ports were produced.
Quinta do Naval and Quinta do Vesivio declared the vintage, whilst the bigger players (Fladgate, Symmington) opted to make single quintas.
Head Winemaker, David Guimaraens noted, “A dry winter followed by a cool Spring led to low yields but plenty of aromatic intensity. The cool ripening season was balanced by healthy growth giving the resulting Ports crisp acidity and a remarkable purity of fruit.”
Italian: The Piemonte vintage was 10% down on 2011, with intense heat meaning that the cooler vineyard sites may turn out to have produced the best wines, with some sunburn affecting the most exposed sites. Nevertheless, quality for the best Nebbiolo is promising.
Generally hot in Tuscany, with yields up to 30% below average thanks to uneven flowering caused by rain. A heatwave in August caused some vines to shut down, but nevertheless quality is looking very good in Chianti and Montalcino.
*Jancis Robinson Vintage Guide*
Bordeaux: The Medoc and Graves had a tough growing season, and a very late harvest. Top estates made excellent wines, and overall better than 2011.
A difficult growing season for the right bank, but Merlot generally fared better than the Cabernets. Fine wines from both Pomerol and St-Emilion.
Burgundy: An account of the 2012 growing season would suggest the vintage was catastrophic. But as so often happens in Burgundy, a fine September saved the day and ripened the grapes. Quantities are tiny, with domaines reporting yields of between 18 and 30 hl/ha, while quality is maddeningly inconsistent. There are tough, unappealing wines, and some magnificent wines.This makes it a difficult year to navigate as even within a single domaine there can be varying quality. The best wines have good tannic structure and will age well.
Sauternes: Some botrytis, but a lack of concentration and body. Tiny crop, and some top châteaux decided not to release any wine.
Spain: A weird year of weather in Spain. It was the fifth consecutive small vintage, thanks in large part to very dry conditions. The resultant small berries harvested in Rioja are likely to make wines of great concentration and high tannin.
*Jancis Robinson Vintage Guide*
Vintage Port: 2011 Vintage Port Declaration: All of the major port houses have now declared the 2011 vintage as being of exceptional quality. For many shippers this is the first declaration since 2007. The avalanche of declarations started with Sogrape, owners of Sandeman and Ferriera. This has been followed by Symington, the company that owns Dows, Graham Warre and Cockburn and Taylor Fladgate owners of the Fonseca and Taylors brands.
"The 2011 Vintage Ports are characterised by an unusual combination of elegance with power and structure. Whereas “elegant” usually implies lighter-bodied, the 2011s have fantastic aromas and great elegance but are big wines – not an easy balance to achieve. "
Charles Symington, 15 March 2013
Italian: Piedmont, particularly the Langhe and Roero, experienced an earlier harvest than usual in 2011. Warm spells in April, June and July accelerated the development of the vines. Though conditions were dry, nights were cool, distinguishing 2011 from the hot 2003 vintage. What's more, water reserves from winter rains prevented the vines from suffering too much.
The story of the 2011 harvest in Tuscany is the heat wave from Africa that settled over central Italy in August. It resulted in a harvest roughly three weeks earlier than usual, challenging vintners to retain freshness and elegance in early ripening grape varieties.
Bordeaux: Poor summer led to mildew and rot. A warm September saved the vintage, but uneven ripening and a difficult harvest.
A poor summer but less rot on the Right Bank than on the Left. Sorting essential, but Pomerol had some excellent wines.
Burgundy: As so often in recent years, 2011 proved to be a tricky and challenging vintage for growers, yet the wines mostly turned out well. The reds are aromatic and fresh, with considerable purity of fruit. What they lack is some depth, weight, and complexity. The best wines have balance rather than power, and should be enjoyed in the medium term. Some Village wines are already approachable.
Sauternes: The sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac had an exceptional vintage in 2011, approaching that of 2001 for quality, because the cool harvest maintained their acidity levels, and the windy days allowed the botrytis to dry out.
Vintage Port: After three very dry years, the winter of 2009-2010 saw an extraordinary change, with heavy rains of 100 mm or more recorded at Pinhão for each of six months in a row. The viticultural year progressed well until July and August when we had not one drop of rain. Temperatures in excess of 35ºC throughout most of August slowed the maturation cycle, as the vines cannot photosynthesise and mature the grapes properly in conditions of continued extreme heat. As a result the harvest began 5 days later than usual, but was conducted under mostly perfect conditions with a few welcome light showers in early September and only one overnight rainfall in early October.
Italian: The 2010 wine vintage in Italy will be remembered a good quality vintage but with timmy production quantities. Early rain and late ripening sun just before harvest contributed to a good quality crop especially for the late ripening nebbiolo grape used for Barolo.
Bordeaux: 2010 wine vintage: 2010 is widely hailed as a great vintage. With grapes so laden with all the ingredients needed to make fine wine there was no need for excessive intervention on the part of the winemaker, and the best producers maintained a very light touch on the tiller and produced some outstanding wines.
Burgundy: 2010 is a very classical vintage, with much more red fruit than black, notably cherries and raspberries, and very few green notes.The wines range from lighter to medium-full bodied depending on the extraction choices made by the producer. The major villages of the Côte de Beaune have fared as well as the Côte de Nuits. There is huge pleasure in store for the Burgundy lover.
Champagne: A taxing year with dry conditions retarding grape development early in the season. When rain arrived in August it was torrential, causing widespread disease pressure. The return of dry conditions in September helped some producers over the line, but sorting in the vineyard and winery was crucial.
Spain: Exceptional for Ribera del Duero with no excessive weather patterns, uniform ripeness and quality as promising as 2004. Good quality in Rioja also, considered better than 2009.
Vintage Port: The 2009 Port was declared as a vintage by the Taylor Fladgate Partnership covering Taylor, Fonseca and Croft. It will be remembered as a year of low yields which produced wines of massive density and scale. This was partly the result of a small amount of fruit produced across all grape varieties and also the very dry summer during which there was no rainfall from July through to harvest time in September.
Italian: Hot conditions have created ripe reds with fairly high alcohol and good quality. Relatively fast maturing.
Bordeaux: Very good year for wines from all Bordeaux appellations. Tannic, powerful, structured and rich, the best wines need 15-20 or more years to develop. Margaux, Pauillac, Pessac Leognan and St. Emilion are the best regions. Sauternes was also successful.
Champagne: After early complications a superb summer produced a clean crop of high quality, with particularly good Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims. Wines are plump and approachable.
Spain: Very hot conditions gave average temperatures above the infamous 2003 vintage. However, timely rains in Rioja and Ribera del Duero relieved the vines and rescued the vintage. Very good quality.
Vintage Port: 2008 Port: An excellent vintage for ports and had it not come so soon after the outstanding 2007 vintage, may have been declared. The quality across the board is on a par with 2008 with the majority of the 2008’s possessing great color extraction. The best however, exhibit finely tuned tannins, crisp acidity and fresh, concentrated wild berry flavours.
Italian: Good for Nebbiolo thanks to long, late summer sunshine – but the earlier-ripening Dolcetto and Barbera did not fare so well.
Bordeaux: 2008 Bordeaux Wine: This Vintage produced wines have good balance with ripe, fine grained tannins, refreshing acidity and a real sense of 'terroir'. The yields were generally low overall but quality is good to excellent.
Burgundy: 2008 Burgundy: An accursed vintage in Burgundy, with coulure, mildew and hail all conspiring to damage yields and quality. Late September sunshine went some way to rescue the crop, however, although high acidity remains the hallmark of this vintage.
Champagne: 2008 Champagne: Initially a difficult, damp year with widespread mildew; drier conditions in August and a fine, warm September proved many producers’ saving grace. Classically-styled wines with fresh acidity balanced by sound ripeness achieved late in the season.
Spain: 2008 Rioja: Very good quality for Rioja, with favourable weather throughout autumn. In Ribera del Duero, temperatures were cooler than normal, giving a slow, balanced ripening process and elegant wines as a result.
Vintage Port: 2007 Port: 2007 is the first widely declared Port vintage since 2003. Virtually every Port house that matters made a Vintage Port attesting to the quality of the year. The growing season was preceded by a wet winter which put plenty of moisture back into the soil after a lengthy period of dry conditions. Summer temperatures were relatively mild (unlike the torrid conditions in 2003, the last previous declared vintage). September and October weather was close to ideal so that the grapes enjoyed a lengthy hang-time under excellent conditions with full ripening of Turiga Francesa and Turiga Nacional, the two most important grape varieties.
2007 Port: Reception for the vintage appears to be strong. The quantities produced are small, so there is a high demand for them, and there is simply no substitute for a great bottle of Vintage Port. There is little doubt that 2007 is a high class vintage.
Italian: 2007 Italian Wine Vintage: An excellent vintage. One of the mildest winters followed by a warm spring resulted in a lengthy ripening season. This produced well-structured, aromatic wines with plentiful but ripe, velvety tannins.
Bordeaux: 2007 Bordeaux Wine: The finest 2007s tend to be dark ruby-coloured with purple highlights, sweet, ripe berry fruit similar to black cherries and black currants, medium body, silky tannins, low acidity, and pure, round, charming personalities with good equilibrium. By and large, the wines lack density, structure, and serious long-term aging potential. Most will be drinkable as soon as they are bottled, and should age surprisingly well for 10-15 years. Truthfully, most consumers will probably love the style of the vintage’s top wines because they are so flattering, seductive, and fruit-forward.
Champagne: An unusually warm spring led to early flowering and optimism which soon gave way to disappointment with one of the murkiest summers on record. Conditions improved towards September allowing a fair crop, with Chardonnay outperforming the Pinots. Above average acidities.
Spain: After a miserable summer, frost on 24 September decimated the crop from many young Ribera del Duero vineyards. Most grapes struggled to ripen but late pickers were rewarded. Not a stellar year though.
Vintage Port: 2006 Port Vintage: A wet year with rain inconveniently timed in September. But some grapes were also shrivelled by extreme heat. Far from a textbook year.
Italian: 2006 Piedmont: A coolish summer was followed by an Indian summer punctuated by two bouts of rain but the grapes were healthy enough to withstand them. Promising.
2006 Tuscany: Very promising vintage with a steady, prolonged growing season and well balanced wines.
Bordeaux: 2006 Bordeaux Wine: This vintage produced somewhat hard and tannic wines. Whilst they do not have the flesh or ripeness of 2005 or 2003, they will have longevity. In time the 2006 vintage may turn out to be a more classic vintage like 1996 - but with less ripeness.
Burgundy: 2006 Red Burgundy: Poor summer with vine health problems produced wines which at their best are very pure and expressive and at their worst just a bit too austere for comfort.
Champagne: 2006 Champagne: An exceptionally hot and sunny June and July with grapes in fine fettle but a dank August left producers fearful of under ripeness. Fortunately, warm, bright conditions in September redressed the balance. Wines are supple and expressive.
Spain: 2006 Rioja Vintage: Some spring hail in Rioja. Hot summer with some drought stress. Has not lived up to the two previous vintages.
Vintage Port: 2005 Port Vintage: This year produced a high quality harvest in the Douro region that has given rise to some outstanding single quinta vintage ports. The big producers did not declare the vintage and concentrated on producing single quinta ports from selected vineyards. The 2005 vintage ports are generally built for early consumption. The wines are already approachable but would benefit from further cellaring.
Italian: 2005 Piedmont: Reduced crop of decent but unremarkable wines for medium term drinking.
2005 Tuscany: Grapes had to be picked before the rain really set in if decent wine was to be made.
Bordeaux: 2005 Bordeaux Wine: An outstanding vintage that produced wines that are rich in substance, flavour and tannin, and most have good acidity. The 2005 wine vintage produced great wines, built in many cases for the long haul. The flavours are fresh and certainly cool climate in style, despite the character of the vintage; many show delightfully lively cranberry, redcurrant, red cherry and crunchy blackcurrant leaf character, and yet have a depth, substance and richness.
Burgundy: 2005 Burgundy: As in Bordeaux, a quite exceptionally good vintage, although many wines may go through a prolonged stage of chewy adolescence.
Champagne: 2005 Champagne: Variable conditions throughout the year resulted in a lacklustre vintage, though favourable weather in the run-up to harvest meant that ripeness was assured. Acidities on the low side.*JancisRobinson.com*
Spain: 2005 Rioja: Another good vintage with high temperatures but with (just) enough rain.
Vintage Port: 2004 Port Vintage: The 2004 vintage was not generally declared, but some wonderful single quinta vintages were bottled. These 2004 Vintage Ports show intense deep purple-red colour, a factor that was strongly influenced by the August rains that softened the skins and allowed for better colour extraction. The nose is lifted and fresh, again thanks to the cooler August weather. The taste is rich, firm and with good acidity and fine peppery tannins. These wines are most attractive and will age extremely well.
Italian: 2004 Piedmont: Very promising with few extremes of weather and well balanced wines.
2004 Tuscany: Exceptionally good vintage, central Italy’s equivalent of the perfect growing season that France experienced in 2005.
Bordeaux: 2004 Bordeaux: The 2004 wine vintage marked a return to a more classic Bordeaux vintage. The wines are more traditionally styled, and will make fine drinking for many cellars. The vintage seems a little under-rated compared with 2003 and the wines represent good value.
Burgundy: 2004 Red Burgundy: Large vintage of far from flashy but pretty serviceable and certainly good value wines. Relatively light and crisp, for early drinking though the best may surprise in the long run.
Champagne: 2004 Champagne: Unusually, quality and quantity were both hallmarks of 2004. Structured, well-balanced wines which have exceeded expectation.
Spain: 2004 Rioja: Very good year, especially for Rioja, with wines that should last well.
Vintage Port: A general declaration of vintage. Classic Vintage Port. The 2003 port vintage has great traditional tannic structure with attractive ripe fruit flavours.
Italian: 2003 Piedmont: As elsewhere, the heat wave shrivelled grapes and resulted in some unbalanced musts although the oldest vines in Barolo and Barbaresco managed to withstand the weather and yield some exceptional wines.
2003 Tuscany: Very difficult heat wave conditions were felt in all but the highest vineyards of Chianti Classico. Wines generally pretty unbalanced.
Bordeaux: 2003 Bordeaux: The hot summer months of June and July, followed by an August heatwave, set the Bordeaux 2003 wine vintage apart from recent years. On tasting, the tannins are rather prominent in many wines. Many of the wines, particularly on the left bank are very 'new world in style, frequently displaying super-ripe blackberry, plum and cherry characteristics. Sauternes also showed well, with a number having very good freshness alongside a rich weight of residual sugar and botrytis.
Burgundy: 2003 red Burgundy: A small proportion of monumental wines from old vines were produced this heatwave year, but generally the frail Pinot Noir grape suffered raisining and made some very unusual wines indeed, some of which provide good, luscious drinking at about five years old but dry tannins are expected to make their presence increasingly felt.
Champagne: 2003 Champagne: Spring frosts followed by one of the hottest summers on record led to small volumes and typically very ripe wines of middling quality. Some fine Pinot Noir dominant blends.
Spain: 2003 Rioja: The growing season was made difficult by drought. Those producers who looked after their vines produced excellent, intensely concentrated wines
Vintage Port: 2002 Port: A potentially excellent vintage for those who picked their grapes before the rains. Not so great for those who did not.
Bordeaux: 2002 Wine :For the third straight year Bordeaux pulled off yet another miracle vintage, thanks to a final bout of fine weather. The long, fine, sunny days of early autumn—a great October, in fact—opened the way for some fine wines. The best-prepared chateaus, made wines ranging from good to excellent. Their wines are strongly built and truly the “Highs” of the vintage. They have high acids (about 15% higher than normal), high alcohol content (over 13% natural alcohol), high tannin content, and high fruit content. They also have tight structure, dark colors, and lots of power. They are quite full-bodied.
Champagne: The 2002 Champagne is proving to be the finest vintage since 1996, more redolent of 1995 or 1990 in terms of the ripeness of fruit and power of structure.
Vintage Port: The 2001 port was a good vintage yielding dark and well structured wines. Not generally declared but an excellent vintage nevertheless coming after the 2000 vintage. Some excellent single quinta wines were produced.
One of the wettest winters on record, Pinhao recorded 1,057mm (17.3”). A moderately hot summer with light winds which helped prevent disease. Harvest started at Quinta de Vargellas on September 17th and on the 20th in the Pinhao Valley. 10mm of rain on the 29th and again on the 5th of October affected only the end of the vintage. Yields were up almost 30% over 2000. David Guimaraens wrote, “This year is certainly distinguished by being a year of larger production with a consistently high overall quality, as has not been seen since 1995.”
Italian: The 2001 italian wines vintage caps off a remarkable string of outstanding vintages for Piedmont that began in 1996. During that relatively brief time period producers gained a great deal of knowledge and experience, both in the vineyard and in the cellar, a positive trend which continues today. In addition, 2001 featured the growing conditions in which Nebbiolo thrives: hot daytime temperatures alternating with cool nights. The favorable weather, along with producers' newfound sense of maturity combined to produce an extraordinary set of wines. Simply put, for Barolo, 2001 is the most complete of the vintages between 1996 and 2001.
Bordeaux: 2001 wine : This vintage is characterised by wines that are in a classic style with high tannic qualities and with fresh acidity and medium body. The weather throughout the growing season was cool and cloudy. A mostly dry September and October contributed allowed the late harvest of a large crop. The wines will be relatively slow to evolve given the relatively good acid and tannin levels.
Vintage Port: 2000 Port: The 2000 Vintage was the first to be declared in the 21st century and will be remembered for the immense concentration of its wines and for the small quantities produced. The wines are already showing tremendous promise, with intense berry fruit aromas and full-bodied structure, which at this early stage is an excellent sign.
Italian: 2000 was one of the finest post war vintages for Piedmont wines. The wines are still tannic and youthful. They will last for many years to come.
Bordeaux: 2000 wine: The fabled millennium vintage produced wines that are of true greatness and longevity. They are characterised as being powerful, concentrated with high tannins. The quality is due to ideal weather from the end of September. This allowed the grapes to develop thick skins from lack of moisture. For the first time in many years there was little rain in the harvest season allowing the skins to thicken further. This served to further concentrate the wines. The wines have evolved slowly and will continue to do so for many decades to come.
Vintage Port: 1999 port: Not a general declaration of vintage. Some vineyards produced small quantities of outstanding single quinta wines.
Italian: The Barolos and Barbarescos are very good and are reminiscent of the 95s in style and structure. 1999 was the third top vintage in a row in Tuscany. Despite the wet weather in most of Italy, the region remained hot and dry for most of the growing season, although there was intermittent rain during the harvest. Those who picked before the September rains have produced deeply coloured wines that are brimming with rich, ripe fruits.
Bordeaux: 1999 wine : A very good vintage that produced low acidity, ripe wines which have matured quickly and are drinkable now. However, they should last a good 15-20 years. The weather during the growing and harvest season was excessively wet and hot and in earlier times could have been disastrous. However, those Chateau that adopted modern selection and processing techniques produced wines of good quality. Those that did not fared less well. This is reflected in the wide variation in quality across the region. Prices are fair and reflect good value.
Vintage Port: 1998 port: Not generally declared as a vintage. A small crop produced some good and powerful Quinta Vintage Ports. Colheitas or Single Harvest Ports such as Kopke or Barros would make an excellent alternative for port lovers.
Italian: Another very good year for Tuscany and Piedmont although some Tuscan producers suffered from poor picking timing during the October rains. Those that picked before or after were rewarded with long living wines but to be sure, pick a Barolo or Barbaresco from Piedmont. The wines are classics and will drink well now or keep for another 10 years or more.
Bordeaux: 1998 wine: This year favoured the merlot grape leading to a glorious vintage in Pomerol and St Emillion. This is undoubtedly the greatest vintage for Merlot-dominated wines since 1990 and the quality of the St-Emilions and Pomerols is outstanding being powerful and tannic. The Médoc wines were initially under-rated, but properties with the finest terroirs have produced some excellent high-quality wines that are now showing tremendous promise.
Champagne: The 1998 champagne has, over the last couple of years, been re-appraised in an upwards direction. What was always seen as very good year is now regarded as excellent. The wines are ripe, not overly ripe, fleshy but with structure to repay cellaring.
Spain: This would have been an exceptional year for Rioja. The weather was mild in winter months with a non frosty Spring offering excellent flowering conditions throughout the summer.Unfortunately the rain hit hard in mid September forcing an early start to the harvest. By October 12th everyone was picking or had picked, but those who picked late saw the benefit of an Indian summer which allowed ripening to continue in excellent conditions until November 3rd. These later-gathered grapes will, it’s hoped make some excellent Reservas.
Vintage Port: 1997 was one of the great port vintages of the decade and marked a general declaration of vintage. The vintage is characterised by full-bodied wines that will be at their best after 2015.
Italian: 1997 is undoubtedly a great vintage for Italian wines. Like 1982 and 1990 Bordeaux, it will have its critics because of its extreme style, but if wine is a beverage of pleasure, this vintage offers extraordinary wines.
Bordeaux: The 1997 vintage wines are characterised by being attractive, soft, user friendly with broad appeal. They have been quick to mature and, except for the most concentrated wines, should be drunk within the next few years.
Vintage Port: Although 1996 was one of the wettest years for port on record, the Douro region produced a large, abundant crop. The year was not declared as a Vintage, however a few good port wines were produced which are noted for being fruity and forward.
Italian: 1996 was an outstanding vintage for Italian wines. This is an extremely good year. In Piedmont, tricky weather all summer yielded to a period of hot and dry weather from mid-September through to mid-October. This enabled the late-ripening Nebbiolo to achieve a classic balance between fruit and structure. The best Barolos and Barbarescos are substantial on the palate and give every indication of a long life ahead. Like Piedmont, Tuscany had a cooler than average summer and this enabled a long, slow ripening of the grapes. The wines are richly aromatic, deeply coloured and abundantly fruity.
Bordeaux: The 1996 vintage produced exceptional wines that broke all price records (until the 2000 vintage). The top wines will just about have reached full maturity now but will keep for many more years.
Spain: A very good vintage though less fine than the preceding two. Particularly successful in Ribera del Duero, where ripe, relatively friendly wines were made.
Vintage Port: 1995 Vintage port. If it hadn't directly followed the quite exceptional 1994 Vintage, 1995 could well have been a fully declared Vintage. It did however produce exceptionally good single quinta's with concentrated, fruity and well-structured ports. The 1995 port vintage also offers plenty of good examples of barrel aged port from established producers such as Kopke, Messias, Barros and Krohn that would offer exceptional drinking today.
Italian: 1995 is generally good vintage for Italian wines that was overshadowed by the exceptinal vintages that followed. The vintage produced consistent wines. The best examples from Tuscany and Piedmont are now at there peak of their maturity.
Bordeaux: The 1995 vintage produced consistent wines that will reach full maturity between now and 2012. Superb weather and July and August augured well for the crop, however rain in September slightly impaired the quality. Unlike 1994, the rain only lasted for just over a week and those producers that delayed harvesting were rewarded with a harvest of mature grapes. The wines produced from these vineyards are dense tannic affairs that should mature well.
Spain: Rioja; The 1995 wine vintage was an 'Excelente' vintage with what was (then - superseded in 1996 and again in 1997 and 1998) the biggest harvest of all time and the second 5-star year vintage in a row.
Vintage Port: 1994 port: One of the greatest vintages of the 20th Century that produced classic, monumental port wines with rich fruit character. While these wines can be approached in their youth, the best will need 20 years in bottle.
Bordeaux: 1994 wine :The 1994 vintage is generally rated as good but a little inconsistent. The top estates produced some very fine wines that are far superior to those in the poor years between 1991 and 1993. The best 1994 Bordeaux wines are characterised by high tannin levels with rich fruit and should mature well over the next few years.
Spain: This was the ‘Aaah!’ vintage, after three years of drought and indifferent quality, nature relented and provided one of the best vintages of the century (compared by many producers with the legendary 1964). The grapes showed tremendous ripeness, colour and extract. This was a truly great vintage in the making, although (or perhaps because) it was relatively low in quantity.
Vintage Port: 1993 Port: One of the worst years ever in the Douro with rain falling throughout the harvest. No declarations were made and little or no vintage Port was made.
Bordeaux: 1993 wine: This is considered to be a moderate vintage following on from the poor vintages of 1991 and 1992. Despite some dilution from late rains in September, the better examples of wine from this year exhibit a deep colour, rich intensity and have a good structure. The top wines from 1993 find more favour with critics than 1991 and 1992 and should be drinkable for a few years to come.
Champagne: 1993 was a particularly early vintage, helped by scorching spring heats. Harvest thus started early in September, and proved to be prompt and plethoric. Then summertime was dry and sunny.
Vintage Port: 1992 Port: The vintage was declared by some port houses who produced some rich and concentrated wines. The port is still young in 2008 and will benefit from further cellaring.
Bordeaux: 1992 Vintage Wine: Rain during the harvest produced wines of variable quality. The crop was enormous but most of the top vineyards adopted strict selection policies and discarded a large percentage of their crops. This led to wines that are characterised by being soft, fruity, and low in acidity level with light to moderate tannin levels and moderate to good concentration. The wines are now mature and should be drunk soon.
Vintage Port: 1991 Port: Declared as a Vintage by some producers the first since 1985. A very small but good Vintage. The grapes tended to be small with little juice resulting in deep, dense powerful wines for the medium to long term. It was declared by the Symington-owned houses Dow, Graham, Warre, Smith Woodhouse, Gould Campbell, Quarles Harris) in preference to 1992. Taylor and Fonseca declared single-Quinta wines.
Italian: 1991 Italian Wines: The 1991 vintage was better than first thought but did not rival the three exceptional vintages that preceded it. July was generally very hot and sunny, continuing into August. September continued warm, but rainfall from the middle of September on prevented Nebbiolo and Barbera from ripening fully. As a result the crop was small and the wines will not maintain the traditional longevity associated with the grape.
In Tuscany most producers in Chianti made only small quantities of Riserva, if any at all. In Montalcino and Montepulciano however producers who thinned out the crop during the summer were rewarded with raw materials for wines which have kept well. The best examples of Brunello and Vino Nobile have good depth and structure and although the fruit is not particularly exuberant they are drinking well now.
Bordeaux: 1991 wines: Generally an inconsistent vintage with First and Second Growths still drinking well. An abnormally cold frosty April killed many of the buds on the vines particularly those in the right part of Bordeaux (Pomerol and St Emilion). Although new buds formed and developed, the harvest was always going to be late to allow the grapes to mature fully. Despite the set-back, some acceptable, light wines were produced from northern vineyards of Medoc and Graves.
Spain: The 1991 Rioja and Ribera del Duero vintage was an excellent one. The crop was small but the wines produced should have weight, structure and quality for years to come.
Vintage Port: 1990 Port: Not a general declaration. The 1990 Vintage produced abundant quantities of good quality port wine, a small amount of which was outstanding.
Italian: 1990 Italian Wines : A spectacular vintage, one of the best in modern times. Most producers made very good wines at all levels. The wines are drinking well but will continue to develop with good cellaring.
Bordeaux: 1990 Wines:1990 was the third year in a row of excellent Bordeaux vintages. The hot, dry sunny year ensured that, like many of the great vintages, 1990 produced rich wines from across the Bordeaux region. Many of the red wines from this vintage have a roasted or baked quality derived from the hot sun ripening the grapes. The vintage is characterised by having a tannic quality coupled with low acidity. Most of the quality wines from this vintage are still at the peak of their maturity and will continue to remain so for a few more years.
Champagne: 1990 Champagne: A superb year and one of the top half-dozen vintages of the last century. The champagnes display good body and marvellous depth of fruit as well as great finesse and very good longevity. The best will be drinking well for many years to come.
Vintage Port: 1989 Port: Not a general declaration of Vintage. However this was a good year that produced some attractive, full bodied single quinta wines with plenty of appeal.
Bordeaux: 1989 Wines: The 1989 wine vintage was the middle year of a successful run of three vintages from 1988 to 1990. The vintage is now regarded as an excellent vintage for Bordeaux. As with the other successful vintages the weather was kind with a long, hot, dry summer ripening the grapes. The conditions seemed to favour St Jullien, Pauillac and Pomerol but not Margaux The wines from this vintage are generally characterised by high tannin levels, low acidity and high alcohol levels due to the ripe grapes.
Champagne: The 2nd in a trio of great vintages. Spring was early and was followed by ideal growing conditions with a very hot summer leading to a large crop of very ripe and healthy grapes being harvested in September and October. The champagnes are rich, luscious and soft, being exceptionally appealing in youth but also possessing enough rip and acidity to reward extended cellaring. In style, and character the champagnes are reminiscent of the glorious 1982 vintage.
Spain: The 1989 Wine vintage in Spain was above average and many fine wines were produced.
The winter of 1988/9 was very cold, dry and frosty - one of the driest of the century. There were heavy frosts at the end of November which affected some of the vines, causing an irregular budding the following spring: Viura was worst hit, with some damage to Tempranillo and less to Garnacha vines. Spring, by contrast, was very warm with the vines developing early and setting taking place in Rioja Baja in the first week of June, with the rest of the region following suit in the next two weeks. The summer was hot but, as so often, afflicted by hailstorms over quite wide areas of Rioja Alta and more localised parts of Rioja Alavesa. However, by the end of summer the vines were estimated to be two weeks in front of a normal year in development terms. The vintage started in Rioja Baja on 6th September
Vintage Port: 1988 Port: 1988 was a very difficult growing year, with bad weather in the spring and summer resulting in a small crop of average quality. As a result there was no declaration of vintage (a mark of the highest quality). Nevertheless, some very attractive single quinta ports were produced.
Italian: 1988 Italian Wines were produced in an excellent, almost outstanding vintage. Good growing conditions particularly in Tuscany and Piedmont produced rich, full bodied wines that will hold for many years to come.
Bordeaux: 1988 Bordeaux Wine: The first in a trio of great vintages and one that has been rather overshadowed by the 89s and 90s. 1988 is the most classic of the trio, with many of the wines not being overtly fruit-driven but having levels of extract and concentration that that make them perfect candidates for keeping.
Vintage Port: The 1987 Port was very close to being a fully-fledged Vintage. The port wines are balanced and elegant and will provide fine drinking in the medium-term. The result is that the consumer can buy Ports at a fraction of the price of what they would have cost.
Italian: 1987 was a good vintage for the Italian region. The wines produced are generally of good consistency. Barolos are now fully mature and ready for drinking.
1987 wines are generally under-rated as a vintage. Had it not been for 14 straight days of rainfall in early October, then the harvest would have been a great one. The wines are characterised by being light to medium bodied, ripe and fruity with low tannins and low acidity. 1987 wines are generally overlooked in favour of the great vintages that followed in 1988-1990. However, those producers who adopted strict selection policies produced some very good wines which still make good drinking but should be consumed in the next few years.
Spain: A highly respected vintage of very good quality. The highest and latest-picked vineyards gave the best grapes – so Rioja Alavesa benefited.
Vintage Port: 1986 Port: No declaration of vintage. A good year that produced forward, fruit packed Single Quinta Vintage port wines that are at their best now and will remain so for many years. Tawny or Single Harvest Ports will offer a great alternative to Vintage Port and would grace the table of any anniversary celebration.
Italian: 1986 was a very good year for Italian wines. The wines produced that year are generally quite consistent and there are some great Barolo wines from Piedmont.The wines have reached full maturity but will last for a few more years.
Bordeaux: 1986 was a great vintage for the wines produced in the northern part of Bordeaux (St Julien, Pauillac) where many of those wineries produced deep, concentrated wines that will mature over the following two to three decades. What marks the 1986 vintage is tannin. The tannins originate from the skins of those well ripened grapes which were left on the vines for several weeks before harvest. In vertical tastings the 1986 usually stands out because of this particular quality. The 1986 vintages are only reaching their peak now but will remain there for many years to come. 1986 wines are drinking well now and would grace the table of any anniversary event.
Spain: The 1986 was a good vintage for Rioja and Ribera Del Duero with the first producing some good but rather lean wines and the latter standing out for its power, structure and complexity.
1985 Port vintage is a great classic Port Vintage, with concentrated, rich and potent wines. General declaration of vintage. 1985 was a model year for the growth of the vines. A wet winter followed by a moderate spring led into an extremely warm June and a hot July and August.
The harvest took place under perfect weather conditions, and the fermentations went well also. From the very start shippers were predicting outstanding wines.
The ports from 1985 are characterised as being forward with enormous structure, and staggering depth, dimension, and length. They are at the peak of their maturity and will remain so for another 15-20 years.
Italian: 1985 was an outstanding vintage for Italian wines, one of the best in the last 50 years for Piedmont and Tuscany. The vintage produced wines of great consistency. The best wines should be great.
Bordeaux: The 1985 wine vintage produced examples that are characterised by being well developed, rich and having a seductive complexity with an attractive perfume. A drought for much of August and September led to concentrated grapes at harvest. The wines have now generally gone through the peak of their maturity and should be drunk within the next few years.
Spain: 1985 was a near-perfect vintage, with a warm summer and a perfect ripening season. The wines produced are generally easy-drinking wines of medium intensity. About 10% of wine went into Grand Reserva production.
1984 Vintage Port: No declaration of vintage but some attractive single quinta port wines. Now fully mature but will keep for years.
The 1984 vintage started off with a cold wet spring, with summer not really starting until June. The first three weeks of September were fine, hot and dry, but at the end of September the temperature dropped sharply and it never recovered. However there was good weather in the final part of the harvest and the wine makers skills were tested to produce a good wine. Some excellent examples of the wine makers talent are around such as Warre, Dow and Fonseca. Some excellent single Colheitas were produced such as Kopke.
Italian: 1984 wine vintage. A challenging vintage that produced some good wines in Piedmont by those producers that adopted strict selection techniques. Some weaker wines were produced in Tuscany.
The first three months of the year were cool. Although the weather in April was better, May was cold, cloudy and wet causing problems for bud-break. Flowering delayed by two to three weeks. The ripening process was hampered as a result of an unsettled summer, however the vintage was salvaged partly by a warm final ripening period for Barolo.
In Tuscany this was Chianti's first vintage under the new quality enhancing DOCG laws. This was a poor vintage and no Riservas were made. Producers had to rely heavily on concentrated and severe selection to produce an acceptable wine.
Bordeaux: 1984 Wine from Bordeaux: the 1984 Bordeaux vintage got off to a good start with a warm April. Things quickly went downhill after that. May was cool and rainy which led to poor flowering particularly for the Merlot crop. This had follow on problems in the Right Bank (St Emilion Pomerol), as there was not enough ripe Merlot to create quality 1984 Bordeaux wine. The producers in the Left Bank tended to over compensate with more Cabernet Sauvignon. By the time July arrived, the vintage was lagging behind. July and August were warm, dry months which helped the left bank chateaux into thinking the vintage would end up fine, if their wines were Cabernet Sauvignon based. In September Cyclone Hortense hit the Bordeaux wine region, the first in its history.
Many right bank Chateau declassified their entire crop in St. Emillion and Pomerol. The left bank faired slightly better but the wines produced were diluted. Few have survived today and those that have are now quite a rarity.
Spain: 1984 Was a medium vintage for the wines of Rioja. the preceding winter was mild and wet. Frost on May 13th in Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa. Hail storm on September 4th in Villalba, Briñas, Labastida. Loss of 250 tons due to hurricane "Hortensia" on October 4th. Late harvest. Cool fermentation. Sound wine of with just a little colour.
Vintage Port: 1983 vintage ports are now considered great classic, concentrated, rich and potent wines. General declaration of vintage. 10 major shippers declared this year. In youth the wines were powerful yet austere, lacking the showy opulence of the 85s. However, in bottle they have developed marvellously, with the best examples being complex and harmonious. Excellent value for money ports.
Italian: The 1983 wine vintage is rated as very good for the wine regions of Tuscany and Piedmont. The 1983 wine vintage produced rich, structured, full bodied wines that are still drinking well today.
Bordeaux: The 1983 wine vintage produced wines of mixed quality with some excellent wines from the Margaux region. A tropical humid heat-wave in August led to some over-ripening in some regions. Those Chateau who adopted careful selection produced some outstanding wines. Those from the Margaux region were probably the greatest of the decade. St Julien and Pauillac also turned out very good wines. The irregularity means that no single characteristic defines the vintage. The wines are now at the peak of their maturity.
Champagne: A good year that was overshadowed by the outstanding 1982 vintage. The winter was harsh, and conditions did not improve much in spring, which was cold and damp. As a result, flowering was late, although when it did take place it did so under ideal conditions. The sunny, warm weather continued throughout much of the summer, although enough rain fell to prevent the crop from drying out. Rain – and the temperature – fell at the start of September, but conditions picked up in time for the harvest at the end of the month/beginning of October.
Vintage Port: 1982 was a good Port Vintage, with elegant and aromatic wines. Declared by a few houses, but most made Quinta wines.
Italian: 1982 was a tremendous wine vintage for big, rich and fruity Barolo and Barbaresco. The grapes were in superb condition for an early harvest and, thanks to the wonderful summer, the crop was large as well as very healthy. Wines from Tuscany(Chianti and Brunello) were also in fine form producing ripe, flavoursome, well-balanced wines.
Bordeaux: The 1982 wine vintage was an outstanding one that produced some of the most complex profound wines since 1961. Great weather made this vintage a successful one. Harvests were boosted by a September heat-wave, the result of which was super-ripe grapes, both in respect of sugar content and physiology. The lesser wines from the St Emillion, Graves, Pomerol and Margaux regions are now fully mature. The heavyweight wines from these regions and St Julien, Pauillac are evolving slowly and will continue to do so.
Champagne: 1982 is an exceptionally fine, rich vintage for Champagne. Ideal weather conditions in 1982 led to a good vintage, a relief after a disappointing run. A cold and frosty winter gave way to a coolish spring, but temperatures picked up later in the season. The flowering conditions in June were ideal, and summer was sunny and dry. The grapes were ripe by relatively early on in September, and showers mid-month helped them achieve near-perfection. The crop was one of the largest on record.
Vintage Port: 1981 Port : Our recommendation would be for a Colheita port from 1981.
Italian: The good 1981 Italian vintage produced a large crop of consistent wines. The best examples from Tuscany and Piedmont are now at their peak of their maturity.
Bordeaux: 1981 was a very good vintage for Bordeaux Wines. Although July was cool the fruit ripened well through a warm and dry August and September. The harvest began under good conditions in the very last days of September but was hampered by rain in the first two weeks of October leading to a dilution of the grape juice.Nevertheless, reliable chateau still managed to fashion some stylish, classic wines, with medium body and good structure.
Spain: 1981 was considered one of the great vintages for Rioja, and this wine is at its peak of maturity, although it will last for another 8+ years.
Vintage Port: An outstanding generally declared vintage from a hugely underrated year. The 1980 port wines are outstanding. This vintage is ready now but will continue to develop and keep for decades.
Italian: A very good year. The 1980 wines, are generally quite consistent and there are some great Barolo wines from Piedmont. The wines have reached full maturity but will last for a few more years.
Bordeaux: The 1980 wine vintage produced wines of variable quality. A very wet, cool, year resulted in wines that were light and diluted. Nevertheless some producers who operated a strict selection policy still managed to produce some acceptable wines.
Champagne: 1980 Champagne is an exceptionally fine, rich vintage.
Vintage Port: 1979 was an average Port vintage, that produced some quite good straight forward single-quinta wines that are now mature but will keep well for years.
Italian: 1979 is a very good wine vintage. Good growing conditions particularly in Tuscany and Piedmont produced rich, full bodied wines.
Bordeaux: 1979 Wine: Initially overlooked in preference to the 1978 Vintage, 1979 was one of the very few cool years that produced a good vintage. The wines were initially very tannic and acidic but after three decades of cellaring the wines have matured nicely and are now at their peak. They will remain so for many years to come.
Vintage Port: 1978 was a good Port vintage but not a declared one. The port wines are not outstanding but are still attractive and drinkable. 1978 was the year when the labelling of 'single quinta' became popular.
Michael Symington, Head Winemaker at Symington Family estates (Owners of Dow and Graham) wrote of the 1978 vintage "Musts showed exceptional colour and body and very dark heavy wines have certainly been made. Not a trace of mould or rot was to be seen on the grapes coming in, and seldom can a Vintage have been made from more uniformly healthy grapes." 1978.
A trouble free vintage across the Tuscany region with an early spring, warm but not excessively hot summer and well distributed rainfall. There was a certain amount of rain early in the harvest but producers who picked later benefited from a period of uninterrupted fine weather. A 4 out of 5 Vintage!
The year started with cold and damp weather. Spring was particularly wet with lower than average seasonal temperatures. Not until the second half of June did the weather pick up, too late for the flowering, which took place in very wet conditions causing a significant reduction in the crop.After light rains at the beginning of September, the weather suddenly turned right around and the rest of the month was hot and dry with a marked difference between day and nighttime temperatures. The dramatic improvement continued through until the end of the Nebbiolo harvest during the third week of October. Natural selection and a warm autumn meant a very small crop of thick-skinned Nebbiolo grapes in Barolo and Barbaresco. This hailed as a great, long-lived vintage with a rating of 5/5. Exceptional!
Bordeaux: The 1978 wine vintage was excellent one for the Bordeaux region. The dry hot summer produced wines that were medium bodied, deeply coloured, fruity and moderately tannic. The wines reached the peak of maturity in the 1990s but the 1978 wines are still drinking well now and will continue to do so for some years to come.
Vintage Port: The 1977 port vintage was a classic Port vintage that was declared by all the major port houses. Even after more than thirty years, the ports are only just becoming approachable. They will last for many more decades. The port wines are concentrated, complex, well structured and balanced. Marked by strong tannins, these wines have great finesse and staying power.
Italian: 1977 was a good vintage for Italian Wines. Top regions such as Tuscany and Piedmont produced rich, full bodied wines. The wines are fully mature but will still make good drinking today.
Bordeaux: Poor weather throughout the growing season led to a very small crop of thin, light 1977 wines, most of which were drunk within a few years of the vintage. As a result, wines originating from this vintage are rare.
Spain: A few top producers made very good wine – for example, Martínez Bujanda and Salceda – but most of it was run-of-the-mill and was drunk as joven. A meagre 1% achieved Gran Reserva status.
Vintage Port: 1976 port vintage: Following the driest winter on record there was a total drought throughout the summer, until the end of August. This resulted in a very low production. Those that were produced are exceptionally concentrated and full-bodied. They lack a little freshness but this is understandable given the dry conditions. There are very few vintage ports (bottle aged) available but the Colheita ports (barrel aged) from this year are excellent.
Italian: A large crop was produced but the 1976 wines lacked the ripeness and longevity of the 1975 vintage. Although the wines will not improve further with age, they are still very drinkable.
Bordeaux: 1976 wines still offer delightful attractive drinking if they have been well stored. The wines are characterised assoft bodied with low acidity levels.
Rain during the harvest that following the long hot summer of 1976 tarnished what could have been the vintage of the decade. Much to general surprise, the 1976 vintage although mature on release has maintained its maturity to date.
Spain: A good year that produced good quantities of Rioja. Gran Reserva made the annual average of 7%.
The 1975 vintage port declaration came shortly after the 1974 revolution. Under pressure of nationalisation, the port shippers were keen to show what was possible after a run of weak vintages. Whilst the ports are not in the same league as the other 70's declarations (1970, 1977), they have stood up well and represent a superb quality vs price ratio. Recent tastings (e.g. Port Forum 75@40 tasting) have demonstrated that the best are elegant and a pleasure to drink. The wines are now fully mature with the top producers producing good '75's that will grow old gracefully. They are elegant fruity and well balanced but not big.
Italian: The 1975 wine vintage is widely regarded as an excellent vintage for Tuscany. The wines are generally big on alcohol, colour, extract and acidity. The 1975 vintage is remembered for the extremely hot and dry summer which produced grapes of high concentration. The harvest in Tuscany was complicated by late rainfall.
1975 was without a doubt the outstanding Brunello vintage of the decade and in the opinion of many producers one of the all time greats. the best wines in Chianti were very good indeed.
Bordeaux: The 1975 wine vintage are only now beginning to fully mature The summer months were hot and, initially dry. Despite storms in August, good weather was restored through September and October, permitting the harvest to go on uninfluenced by rain. The wines on release are incredibly tannic yet were intensely fruity and rich. This has mellowed somewhat over 30+ years of cellaring leaving excellent examples of wines that will last and last well into the future.
Vintage Port: 1974 Port. Some excellent single harvest colheitas were produced. For the vintage ports it was a moderate year that was not declared by the major port houses. Despite a huge crop, very few vintage port-wines were bottled from this year and the bottles are very rare.
Italian: The 1974 wine vintage was celebrated as a great vintage at the time and is now considered to be very good. The 1974 vintage produced a large crop. It was close to 1964 but less quality. The 1974 summer was hot and dry and a mild autumn allowed the grapes to ripen fully. The wines produced are characterised as being fairly firm and tannic with low acidity but good, rich fruit. The harvest time was very long and lasted through November. The wines have reached full maturity but continue to hold.
Bordeaux: A massive crop was produced but the 1974 wines were hard and tannic and lacked the ripeness of the 1975 vintage. Although the wines will not improve further with age, they are still very drinkable.
Vintage Port: No vintage ports were produced in 1973.
Italian: The 1973 wine vintage was a good one for Italian Wines from Tuscany (Chianti and Brunello) and fair for Piedmont (Barolo and Barbaresco).
Spring was mild and the summer hot and dry, but the run in to the harvest was wet and many producers were faced with the problem of either picking early with low sugar levels or risking the harvest by waiting for the weather to improve. It was a big harvest everywhere in the region. The best wines were produced by those vineyards that adopted careful selection.
Bordeaux: The 1973 wine vintage produced an enormous crop of easy drinking wines full of succulent fruit. The best examples from vineyards that adopted good selection are still drinking well today. Wines from Pauillac and Graves stand out.
The weather was dry and warm throughout most of spring, providing good conditions for flowering. Heavy rain fell during much of July, but the month that followed was hot and dry. September began fine, but wet conditions returned from the middle of the month onwards.
Vintage Port: A good vintage that was not declared. Some vintage port and single quintas were produced. Port wines from 1972 are now fully mature but well stored examples will last for many years more.
Italian: Only a small crop of 1972 wine was produced and the wines are now very rare. The growing season was held back by inclement weather in the main Italian wine regions of Piedmont and Tuscany. Tuscany produced a small crop of Brunello and Chianti. These are generally characterised as having good colour, high acidity and some dryness. The best of the vintage originates from the more southerly regions.
Bordeaux: Bordeaux 1972 wines are generally characterised by having good colour, with dryness and high acidity. However, the style was for early drinking and very few examples exist today. The growing season was difficult with the grape development held back by inclement weather. This did not allow the grapes to fully ripen by harvest. Sweet wines from Sauternes and Barsac are very good.
Vintage Port: Port lovers should opt for 40 year aged Tawny ports. Not a declared year.
Italian: 1971 was considered to be one of the greatest vintages of the 20th century for Italian wine. Excellent growing conditions during 1971 produced a small crop of rich, full bodied wines that have aged gracefully and will last for many years. In Piedmont, Barolo and Barbaresco are outstanding with a high level of consistency. Barbera d'Alba and Barbera d'Asti were also excellent.
In Tuscany, the best results were in Chianti where 1971 was officially rated a 5-star vintage. Many of the wines have shown exceptional ageing qualities. It was also a good vintage for Brunello.
Bordeaux: 1971 was a very good wine vintage whose only failing was to be overshadowed by the outstanding 1970 vintage. The crop size of the 1971 vintage was very small making wines a rarity. Well-stored examples of wine are likely to remain mature for a few more years.
Sauternes and Barsac: Sweet wines such as Sauternes and Barsac were outstanding in this year and will last for many decades to come.
Vintage Port: Ideal growing conditions produced what is a classic, outstanding vintage. The port-wines have great balance, good structure, and will age superbly for decades to come. Declared by all the major port houses, 1970 is one of the finest Port vintages for the last 50 years.
Italian: 1970 was an outstanding vintage for the wine regions of Tuscany and Piedmont. The 1970 wine vintage produced rich, structured, full bodied wines that are still drinking well today.
Bordeaux: An outstanding vintage against which others are compared. The 1970 wine vintage is the best vintage between the outstanding years of 1961 and 1982. Perfect weather led to huge crop that set a record at the time but was also of a high quality across all regions. The wines generally have a dark colour, are fragrant, have full body and a richness of fruit. The wines produced are consistent and will continue to drink well for decades to come.
Spain: 1970 Rioja vintage was recognised by wine critics from around the world as "the vintage of the century" and the best of the regions in the world. This was a turning point for the industry and caused a surge in consumer interest in the wines.
Vintage Port: No declaration of vintage but the 1969 port-wines produced were of good quality and have stood the test of time.
Italian: 1969 was a reasonable vintage for Italian wines. The weather was good throughout the year enabling the grapes to reach a high degree of ripeness. Of particular note are the heavyweight, long-lived wines such as Barolo, Brunello and Tauresi and lighter wines such as Chianti and Valpolicella. The wines are now fully mature and are still drinking well today.
Bordeaux: 1969 Wine Vintage is one to avoid! Rain during the September harvest contributed to what was a small crop of light-weight wines that lacked longevity. Only first growth wines will be drinkable.
Sauternes and Barsac: Sweet wines from these regions were very good in this year and will last for many more years.
Champagne: 1969 Champagne is one of the outstanding vintages of the 20th Century.
1968 Port wines follow a strong run of vintages in the 1960's. The summer was hot and dry with no rain whatsoever in June and July, and only a little in August and September. The harvest should have produced solid good wines. However, only a few vintage ports (Sandman) and single quinta ports were declared. There are still a few Colheita ports available which are drinking very well but stocks are tiny. Now very rare!
Italian: 1968 was a good year for Italian heavyweight wines such as Barolo and Brunello. Whilst Bordeaux suffered from a poor vintage, 1968 marked somewhat of a renaissance for Italian wines particularly those from Tuscany and Piedmont. 1968 was the vintage that Sassicaia was first offered on the open market.
Bordeaux: Poor weather throughout the growing and harvest seasons led to a small, low quality, vintage. Most of the 1968 wine produced was consumed within a few years of the vintage and very few examples exist today. Those that still exist are well into decline and are unlikely to be of good drinking.
Vintage Port: The 1967 port vintage is a very good vintage that was somewhat overshadowed by the exceptional 1966 vintage. It was declared by about 15 shippers - some of whom (Martinez and Cockburn) declared the 1967 in preference to the 1967 vintage. Noval and a few others declared both whilst most of the English shippers elected to produce single quinta ports. The 1967 ports showed well at recent tastings, they have good structure and elegant fruit and will keep for many years to come.
Italian: 1967 Italian Wines represent an outstanding vintage which was probably the best of the decade. Good growing conditions particularly in Tuscany and Piedmont produced rich, full bodied wines that will last for many years to come.
Bordeaux: The 1967 wine vintage is generally considered to be a good, solid vintage that favoured the vineyards in regions that harvested early such as Pomerol, Graves and St Emilion. The 1967 wines will not improve further with age and are still very drinkable and pleasant.
Vintage Port: 1966 is an outstanding Port vintage of exceptional quality that was generally declared. Always overshadowed by the legendary 1963 but now recognised as being one of the very best post-war Vintage Ports. The wines are characterised by being long lasting with firm, perfect weight and balance. Most will outlast the 63's and turn out greater in the long run.
Italian: 1966 produced a good vintage for Italian wines from Piedmont and Tuscany. However quality Italian reds such as Barolo and Brunello are still drinking well today.
Bordeaux: 1966 was a very good wine vintage for Bordeaux. At the time the wines were tannic and had high acidity. Over the past four decades, the tannins have faded to make the wines more drinkable. The best quality wines such as Latour and Palmer are still in their prime even now and will remain so for many years to come. Other Bordeaux wines will remain good to drink.
Vintage Port: 1965 Vintage Ports were shaped by a hot dry summer, with a little welcome sporadic rain. In general they are rich and powerful port-wines with burnt coffee bean tawny characteristics typical of a hot vintage. The vintage was not declared by the major port houses who were looking ahead to the glorious 66 vintage. There are very few single quintas port around, however there are some outstanding colheita port available.
Italian: Whilst Bordeaux suffered from poor weather, Piedmont and Tuscany produced an abundant crop of long-lived 1965 wines that still make good drinking today.
Bordeaux: 1965 Bordeaux Wines are generally considered to have produced a poor vintage due to wet weather. It is unlikely that anything other than the first growths will have sttod the test of time.
The 1964 port vintage was a challenging year due to fluctuating weather conditions. A small amount of single quinta port was made but it is very rare. Some excellent single harvest Colheitas were produced in this year.
The weather at the start of the year was unsettled with rain and thunderstorms at the end of July. These were followed by a hot, dry August which developed the vines. The hot weather continued throughout the season and into the harvest when it began to fluctuate. The grapes were more raisin than the winemakers would like and this is reflected in the port produced.
Our recommendation is for the single harvest colheita ports as these are drinking very well. They also have the added advantage that they can be savoured over several months after opening.
Italian: 1964 wine vintage: An outstanding 5-star vintage in Piedmont and Tuscany that produced wines of immense grandeur. The depth of the bouquet and the fullness of the of its flavour came together with rounded tannins to produce immense wines of character and dimension. Growers could leave the grapes on the vine to become ripe and harvest went on until mid-November. A long harvest and a large crop in terms of
Bordeaux: The 1964 Wine Vintage produced favoured the right bank which produced some opulent, concentrated wines with high alcohol, an opaque colour, super length and unbridled power. The harvest and weather favoured those producers on the right bank who harvested early (Graves, St Emilion and Pomerol). All of these wines reached the peak of their maturity two decades ago, but show little signs of decline today. They will probably last for another decade.
Spain: 1964 wine vintage: 1964 is the wine 'vintage of the century' for Rioja. Tastings of various wines from different estates and classifications reveal the same sweet fruit, vibrancy and youthfulness.
Vintage Port: 1963 vintage ports are the benchmark against which others are compared. The Vintage is considered to be legendary! Anyone born in 1963 has a wine for life. with Cockburn Croft, Dow, Fonseca, Graham, Quinta do Noval Nacional, Taylor, Warre standing out amongst a uniformly excellent field.
The combination of a near-perfect growing season and temperate weather during the harvest made for a benchmark vintage. Nearly all the shippers produced supremely balanced well-structured wines for a full-on declaration.
1963 vintage port never fail to impress with their essential three components of fruit, tannin and elegance. Almost always appear to be younger than they really are.
Italian: The Italian 1963 wine vintage was hampered by wet weather and is generally considered to be a mediocre vintage for Italian wines from Piedmont and Tuscany. Quality Italian reds such as Barolo and Brunello are most likely to have longevity.
Bordeaux: The 1963 wine vintage was a very poor for Bordeaux wines. The winter was harsh. The spring weather did little to promote successful flowering, and the weather throughout summer was cold and damp right through to September. Rot was a continual issue throught the region.
Vintage Port: Not a general declaration, but some very good vintage and single quinta ports were made. Now fully mature, the 1962 Ports still have good structure and finish and will last a few more years.
Italian: An excellent vintage across the main regions of Piedmont and Tuscany. The 1962 wines produced exhibit a deep colour, rich intensity and have a good structure. The top quality Italian reds such as Barolo and Brunello are still drinking well today.
Bordeaux: 1962 wines represent an outstanding vintage that was overshadowed by legendary 1961 one! Consequently, it is one of the most underrated vintages still available. Good weather in the summer and harvest led to what, at the time was a record crop. The wines were delightful and well proportioned across all regions from the start and the top wines have maintained this quality to this day. The wines should last for a few more years.
Vintage Port: Not generally a declared year but the hot weather produced some concentrated ports. The harvest started in extremely hot conditions at the river quintas in early september and progressed in other areas until the end of the month making it a long drawn out vintage. The picking required a very rigorous selection which entails picking out the burnt and imperfect grapes from the bunches before putting them in the baskets. This led to a small harvest. The 1961 ports produced are still drinking well today.
Italian: In Italy, 1961 wine is considered to be one of the greatest vintages of the 20th century. The wines from Piedmont (Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbara) and Tuscany (Chianti, Brunello) are outstanding. The wines are now fully mature and, with careful cellaring, will still keep for many years to come.
Bordeaux: This is one of the legendary vintages of the century. Although most of the 1961 wines are now fading slowly, the top examples continue to shine through offering concentrated, ripe fruit with amazing bouquets. The crop was tiny and there are very few examples available. Provided the bottles have been stored correctly these wines should last for another decade.
Vintage Port: A very good vintage that was declared by all of the major Port houses. The 1960 Ports have now settled into the most glorious old Vintage Ports of the very highest quality. After more than 40 years bottle-ageing, these wines have a superb combination of lovely mature fruit combined with the elegance that only this length of time in bottle can give. They will last for decades to come.
Italian: The 1960 Italian vintage is rated as an average vintage. Heavy-weight, longer lived wines from 1960 such as Barolo and Amarone are still drinking well. They still exhibit a good structure and have deep colour with rich intensity.
Bordeaux: The vintage suffered from two rain filled months of August and September. The wines produced in 1960 were very delicate and light in Bordeaux and only the first growth and Grand Cru wines are now drinkable. The great estates from Sauternes and Barsac produced some good sweet wines in what was a depressed decade for the region.
Vintage Port: A poor year - one to avoid!
Italian: The 1959 Italian wine vintage was a very good vintage that has been overlooked in favour of the outstanding 1958 and 1961 vintages. The wines produced exhibit a deep colour, rich intensity and have a good structure. The top quality Italian reds such as Barolo and Brunello are still drinking well today.
Bordeaux: 1959 was one of the great vintages of the century producing wines that are full-bodied, extremely alcoholic and opulent, with high degrees of tannin and extract. Initially the wines were criticised for having low acidity. However over time, the wines have matured more slowly than the great vintage of 1961 and now after nearly five decades the wines surpass the 1961s in many cases. Well-stored 1959 wines are still at their peak and will remain so for many years to come.
Vintage Port: 1958 ports represent a good year with some fragrant and
delicate Vintage Ports, despite the rather
damp weather conditions throughout.
Declared by some but not all the major
Italian: 1958 was a good year for Italian heavyweights such as Barolo and Brunello. which were built to last. Well stored examples of 1958 wines still make very good drinking today.
Vintage Port: A good vintage although not generally declared. 1957 Port wines are very difficult to get hold of due to the tiny production.
Italian: The 1957 Italian vintage is a strong candidate for the ‘vintage of the decade’ in what was a run of solid vintages between 1954 and 1958. The main regions of Tuscany and Piedmont produced rich, full bodied wines. The 1957 wines are mature but heavy-weights such as Brunello and Barolos will still keep for many years to come.
Bordeaux: A very good vintage. A cold summer led to a small crop and wines that had extremely high acidity. The high acidity has enabled the wines to last well beyond later, more celebrated, vintages. Well stored examples of 1957 wines will still be very drinkable now and for a few years to come.
Italian: While the rest of Europe suffered poor weather, Italy produced a good vintage. Top regions such as Tuscany and Piedmont produced rich, full bodied wines. The 1956 wines are fully mature but will still make good drinking today.
Bordeaux: One of the worst vintages on record - avoid!
The 1955 port vintage produced outstanding, fruity wines for long-term ageing - a real pleasure to drink, now or in a few decades time. One of the most underrated Vintages of the 20th Century. Declared by most of the major Port houses.
The 1955 vintage ports are characterised by having outstanding fruit and being superbly balanced wines, fruity, smooth and concentrated. They are a real pleasure to drink now, but the best will last well into the 21st Century if well cellared.
Italian: The 1955 wine vintage is part of a run of solid vintages between 1954 and 1958. The main regions of Tuscany and Piedmont produced rich, full bodied wines. The 1955 wines are mature but heavy-weights such as Brunello and Barolos are going on strong.
Bordeaux: The 1955 wine vintage is now considered to be outstanding. Good weather conditions led to a large healthy crop. For many years the wines from the 1955 vintage were much maligned for being harsh and impenetrable. However, five decades of maturation have softened them and they are only now at their peak. They will remain at their peak for many years to come. The wines are characterised by being full bodied and rich.
Vintage Port: A good Vintage that is now very hard to find. Not a declared year. This Vintage has been fully mature for many years but well cellared, the best 1954 port wines will be fine for years to come.
Italian: A moderate year for Piedmont.
Bordeaux: 1954 wine vintage report: 1954 was an awful vintage for Bordeaux wines. Avoid!
Vintage Port: 1953 Vintage Port: Not a declared year. A 60 year old Colhieta port makes an excellent gift to celebrate an anniversary or to mark a special occasion like a 1953 vintage birthday.
Italian: 1953 wine vintage was generally an excellent year for Italian wine as it was for other regions throughout Europe.
Bordeaux: 1953 wine from Bordeaux: Another strong candidate for Bordeaux vintage of the century. The 1953 wines which are sumptuous and rich have always been exalted highly by critics. The 1953 vintage reached its peak in the 1970s and is now declining slowly. The wines are still very drinkable and will last many more years.
Vintage Port: A few shippers produced some reasonable 1952 ports. Tiny production. Not a declared year.
Italian: Long lasting 1952 wines such as Barolo are still drinking well.
Bordeaux: 1952 was a fine year for Bordeaux Wines with the right bank (St-Emilion and Pomerol) on top form.
Vintage Port: Not a declared vintage.A Barrel aged single harvest port is a good alternative for this vintage. 1951 Single Quinta ports may still be drinkable but are in short supply.
Italian: a very good year for Italian heavyweights such as Brunello and Barolo. 1951 Wines from Italy are rare and in short supply.
Bordeaux: A poor year for Bordeaux
Vintage Port: In Portugal, the Tawny (Colheita) Ports that were produced are excellent and a small crop of good quality vintage ports were produced.
1950 was also known as the "Lady's Vintage", this was a delicate and subtle Vintage. Declared by some but not all Port houses. 1950 Ports are still a pleasant and fruity but are now at the end of the drinking window. Most now resemble tawnies more than Vintage Port.
Italian: Long lived 1950 wines, such as Barolos from the Piedmont region, have stood the test of time and are still drinking well in what was a fair-to-good vintage.
Bordeaux: The top wines from 1950 are prodigious and outstanding. The two best applellations were St Emillion and Pomerol. The 1950 wines are unbelievably rich, unctious and concentrated and in many cases are capable of rivaling the greatest of the 1949 and 1947 vintages.
The finest wines from 1949 are still in full blossom displaying remarkable richness and concentration. This is one of the quartet of remarkable vintages of the late 1940's - 1949, 1948, 1947 and 1945!
Renowned wine critic Robert Parker states that this is the greatest of the four vintages possessing greater balance, harmony, and fruit than the 1945's and more complexity than the 1948's. In short the wines are magnificent!
Vintage Port: A poor year for the Oporto ports.
Italian: 1949 wine exibits a good vintage for most of the Italian regions. The long lived Barolos are still drinking well today.
Bordeaux: The finest 1949 wines are still in full blossom displaying remarkable richness and concentration. This is one of the quartet of remarkable vintages of the late 1940's - 1949, 1948, 1947 and 1945!
Vintage Port: 1948 was a very good port vintage that was only declared by 9 shippers. It was a seven year wait after this until the next declared vintage.
Bordeaux: An excellent vintage that had the misfortune to fall between two legendary vintages. Often when Bordeaux has three outstanding vintages in a row, one is often forgotten. The wines have aged extremely well and the best wines still tend to make excellent drinking today. 1948 wines will last for many years to come.
Vintage Port: The 1947 port vintage was outstanding. An outstanding vintage that produced elegant and delicate ports and which was declared by only 11 shippers. Well cellared wines are drinking well and will last for many more years. Very popular in the wine starved 1950's which is why little remains.
Bordeaux: The 1947 wine vintage was another superb, legendary year for Bordeaux and Burgundy.
Vintage Port: The 1946 port vintage is considered to have produced good quality ports but no producer declared as the quality of the following vintage would have become clear.
Bordeaux: The 1946 wine vintage was always going to be in the shadow of the legends of 1945. Nevertheless, 1946 holds up a a very good vintage.
Vintage Port: The 1945 port vintage was the first end-of-war vintage. It was a superb quality five star vintage, although the quantity was small. 22 shippers declared 1945 port vintage with Cockburn being the only major abstention.
The ports are now very rare but are still drinking well today.
Bordeaux: The 1945 wine vintage was, without doubt, the vintage of the century. No vintage in the post war era enjoys the reputation that 1945 does. The celebraton of the end of the war, combined with the fact that the weather was remarkable, produced one of the smallest most concentrated crops of grapes ever seen. Many of the top wines are still not fully mature and will last for another 20-30 years. Fabulous vintage.
The 1944 Port vintage was not declared. No Vintage Port or Single Quinta port was produced in this year. However, some excellent Colheita and Tawny Ports from 1944 were made and we are proud to offer one of the largest collections in the UK. These Colheita ports are true rarities which have been barrel aged until a special bottling commissioned by Vintage Wine and Port. The Kopke and Barros have been selected by the producer as being of the highest quality.
These colhieta ports from the 1944 harvest have already undergone oxidative ageing and as with all tawny port can be savoured over two months after opening.
Italian: The 1944 Italian Vintage was overshadowed by the war, however a limited number of bottles were made. The best examples come from Barolo and the area of Piemonte and these are fine wines that will still be drinking well today.
Bordeaux: The 1944 wine vintage produced a good standard of Bordeaux wines. France was exceedingly fortunate in the matter of weather during the war. Never, certainly, in the last half century have the French vineyard districts known a comparable succession of dry summers or a higher average of good or creditable vintage years.
Bordeaux: 1943 wine exhibits the very best of the war-time vintages. Wines are in very short supply. The French, took great care of their vines during the wartime era; the damage in general was substantially less than during the war of 1914-18. Furthermore, France was exceedingly fortunate in the matter of weather during the war. Never, certainly, in the last half century have the French vineyard districts known a comparable succession of dry summers or a higher average of good or creditable vintage years.
Bordeaux: The 1942 wine vintage produced good quality wines during a difficult harvest under war-time conditions. France was exceedingly fortunate in the matter of weather during the war. Never, certainly, in the last half century have the French vineyard districts known a comparable succession of dry summers or a higher average of good or creditable vintage years.
1940 was a very good year for Bordeaux, but wines are in very short supply.
The French, took great care of their vines during the wartime era; the damage in general was substantially less than during the war of 1914-18 and was extensive only in Alsace, around Colmar. The town of Chablis was badly hit in 1940, but the vines escaped injury. a few chais(wine-making plants) and cellars in Bordeaux were wrecked by Allied bombings; the village of Comblanchien on the Côte d'Or was burned to the ground by the Germans in 1944.
Furthermore, France was exceedingly fortunate in the matter of weather during the war. Never, certainly, in the last half century have the French vineyard districts known a comparable succession of dry summers or a higher average of good or creditable vintage years.
Lastly, of course, the French did an extraordinary job of hiding and protecting their stocks, walling up portions of their cellars, burying their more precious bottles, bilking, cheating, duping, and deceiving the Germans on every possible occasion and in every possible way
Vintage Port: In Portugal, the Tawny (Colheita) Ports that were produced are drinking well. 1940 ports produced a small crop.
Bordeaux: Most of France was hit hard by the German Occupation from 1940 to 1944, but down in Bordeaux the wine business thrived. 1940 was a classic year that marked the end of a poor run of vintages during the late 1930s. Some of the best wines of the century originated from the war years. The long hot summer of 1940 produced well-rounded wines that have withstood the test of time.
Start of the war years, so production and supply was disrupted.
Another good year, but not renowned for staying power.
Good to very good vintage in general throughout Europe.
Decent Bordeaux, very good red Burgundy, Great Port.
Vintage Port: Declared as a vintage by many houses and shipped with the 1934's the 1935s are classic refined wines, sweet and rich with fruit and tannins.
Despite a difficult season with a drought that wasn’t broken until September by “a little rain,” harvest began 23 September and continued in perfect conditions. Andrew James Symington’s notes, dated 14 October 1935 state:
I am inclined to think that the quality and good colour inspires hopes that the 1935 may prove good enough to make a Jubilee Vintage – quantity is less than last year – but quality appears to be better.
These wines are now mature, but if well-cellared the best still have a good life ahead of them, as they are still showing good fruit and tannin integration with lovely balance and elegance.
Very good indeed.
Vintage Port: The extremely hot 1934 Vintage produced some rich, thick and powerful Vintage Port. 1934 is a rare vintage only shipped by 12 houses in small quantities. It is considered to be a very fine year equivalent to the great 1935 vintage and considered by some to be better. The declaration was small owing to the great depression at the time.
Better, but a small crop and scarce.
Three strikes in a row; a very poor year indeed.
Vintage Port: An outstanding Vintage Port year declared by a few shippers. The year produced Quinta Do Noval 1931 - one of the greatest Vintage Ports ever made. A note from Amyas Warre of the Symington Port Group, which owns the well known names as W&J Graham Vintage Port, Dow Vintage Port and Warre Vintage Port, stated "In the finest vineyards some good wine with plenty of colour is promised but elsewhere the mostos (musts) are thin and green."
Italian: Generally an exquisite vintage for Piedmont with sensational wines of harmonious balance and flavour.
Bordeaux: Poor year again except excellent Port.
Poor Bordeaux year, so back to Cognac and Armagnac once more.
Superb vintage. The Latour is renowned, but will cost a packet.
Bordeaux: 1929 wine from Bordeaux wine is often compared to its closest vintage, 1928. But the two styles of Bordeaux wine could not be more different. 1928 Bordeaux is a brutally tannic vintage. 1929 Bordeaux is a completely different story. Prior to 1959, it was considered the most opulent, sensuous vintage of the century the day the wines were bottled. 1929 Bordeaux wines were so rich, lush, ripe and sexy when they were first tasted, commentators of the day were convinced the wines would not be long lived. Those types of nonsense comments are still made today with this style of Bordeaux wine. 1929 Bordeaux is the product of a very hot, dry, growing season. It was also the driest vintage of the century in its day. The perfect amount of light rain fell during harvest which gave the vines the nourishment they desperately needed. The 1929 Bordeaux harvest kicked into high gear September 26. The 1929 Bordeaux harvest took place under warm, sunny conditions.1929 Bordeaux wine was successful in every appellation. The Left Bank produced incredibly, opulent, rich wines. In Pomerol and St. Emilion, some of the best wines of the century were produced.
Very good Bordeaux.
Sauternes a better bet than Claret, but excellent Port.
Great Bordeaux vintage; top Burgundies may have some interest.
Vintage deemed as 'early drinking', so scarce and may not have lasted.
A great vintage and reputedly still drinking very well.
Vintage Port: Declared by most shippers, excellent Vintage, again in a more elegant style similar to the 1917.
Big, hot vintage produced profound wines, so may have lasted well.
Fine vintage in Bordeaux. Top wines should be very good.
Good vintage but earlier drinking style, so not a lot has survived.
Bordeaux had a good vintage, but still war time so not much about.
Average year and always tannic. Unlikely to be great drinking now.
War time in France, so very little wine available.
Excellent vintage for Bordeaux, small crop so very scarce.
Another poor to moderate vintage for Bordeaux.
Average vintage, but some good Bordeaux. Excellent Port.
Vintage Port: A superb classic Vintage, full-bodied with concentration and balance, almost all shippers declared.
Well cellared wines still show great balance and lovely soft fruit flavours.
Very good vintage all round. Armagnac and Cognacs
Vintage Port: he yield is shorter than was expected: this is no doubt due to the constant hot weather all through July, Aug and part of September which, as it was accompanied by occasional strong East winds, not only had the effect of hardening the skins of the grapes but also actually burnt up a very considerable proportion of them, more especially in the lower and flatter parts of the vineyards. In spite of this however the mostos (musts) seem clean and promise body and colour.
2 October 1906
Vintage Port: During the 19th century the practice of 'declaring' wines from exceptional years gained momentum with 1847, 1851, 1858, 1863 and 1868 all proving to be fine port vintages. These wines came to be appreciated, less for their youthful vigour and more for the character and complexity that they gained with age in bottle.
Vintage Port: During the 19th century the practice of 'declaring' wines from exceptional years gained momentum with 1847, 1851, 1858, 1863 and 1868 all proving to be fine port vintages. These wines came to be appreciated, less for their youthful vigour and more for the character and complexity that they gained with age in bottle.
Cognac: 1811 was regarded at the time as the greatest vintage in living memory, and is now universally held to be the finest vintage of the 19th century throughout the vineyards of Western Europe. In the same year, Napoleon himself visited the region, and was presented with a barrel of cognac as a gift for his young son. Many ascribed the extraordinary weather to the remarkable astronomical event that had dominated the year. The exceptional quality of 1811 cognac was recognised immediately, and the leading producers marked the vintage either with the date on the bottle, or, more unusually, with a picture of the comet forever associated with the vintage. The date "1811" or the star (as the comet symbol soon became) were regarded as signs of infallible quality, and the leading producers were not slow to exploit this. The Russian Empire removes Anton II, Catholicos Patriarch of Georgia, from his office, placing a Russian-appointed bishop at the head of the Georgian church. The Argentine Government declares freedom of expression for the press.