Vintage Port: A hot summer and a pandemic led to a small production of very good concentrated wines.
The Douro experienced above average temperatures for most of the year with a record July, a worrying sign of global warming. This resulted in harvesting at the end of August - a couple of weeks earlier than usual. Yields are low at the best of times but 2020 produced only a tiny crop of super concentrated grapes. Factor in labour shortages, social distancing logistics issues caused by the pandemic and the production was tiny. Vesuvio and a few others that traditional trod their grapes in lagares did not produce a vintage!
Those producers who did produce a vintage Port generally made a stunningly dark, concentrated wine similar to the 2009 vintage. Symington Family released a small quantity of Graham and Warre's Old Vines. Noval declared as did Quevedo and a few others. Notable exceptions were Taylor-Fladgate who produced single quintas that will be released in future years and Sogrape who did not produce a vintage port for Offley, Ferreira or Sandeman.
The 2019 Quinta Vintage Ports are the result of an erratic growing season, with a little over 50% of the average winter rainfall in the Douro and almost none in the summer. Fortunately, showers at the end of August helped the grapes achieve more balanced maturations.
Spring also saw warmer than usual temperatures. Little rain was seen during the early growing season with mild temperatures and no weather extremes that allowed the flowering to take place, in favourable weather, undisturbed. Low rainfall and dry Spring also meant disease pressure was low allowing for less intervention in the vineyard and subsequently a healthier grape composition.
The onset of Summer saw a continuation of the dry weather. Luckily, cooler temperature throughout the summer- in sharp contrast to the one experienced by the rest of Europe- prevented the vines from shutting down. These cooler conditions lasted through to August where a much-needed rain pushed the maturation forward and benefited the quality and health of the grapes.
Harvesting begun in Autumn, in September where a brief sprinkle of rain also fell at just the right time to prevent drought and keep the grapes fresh and juicy. Warm temperatures in daytime followed by cooler nights, assisted in the slow accumulation of sugars and phenolic ripeness whilst retaining high acidity levels, thus contributing to healthy and balanced grapes.
Grape production was a little higher compared to the 2017 and 2018 vintages, and, perhaps, this was the indicative factor 2019 was not going to be a classic vintage as a small production is synonymous with a classic vintage port declaration.
Due to the mild conditions, grape health was guaranteed across all varietals. Touriga Nacional was exemplary, and the fruit was deep and complex offering good structure. Touriga Franca benefited from the late autumnal rain which offered some hydration and assisted in the retention of its plentiful aromatic intensity. In general, the resulting wines are likely to be extraordinarily successful with freshness and liveliness being the hallmarks of the 2019 ports.
Vintage Port: The 2018 Vintage is aptly described by wine makers as a "rollercoaster of a vintage". A drought throughout winter gave way to exceptionally high rainfall and hale in spring. This was followed by sporadic heatwaves throughout summer. Fortunately the spring rains had replenished the water table and the grapes were healthy when it came to selection. In an unusual year such as 2018, the winemakers skills and experience are critical in producing a good wine. Those winemakers who carefully selected grapes prospered. As a result, there is no defining characteristic of the vintage as a whole, such as would be found in a long hot summer. Instead there are some very interesting ports that are more representative of the terroir.
After a run of declared vintages 2016/17 it was highly unlikely that 2018 would be universally declared. Sandeman who did not declare their outstanding 2017 were the fist to declare a classic vintage. This was followed by Sogevinous (Calem, Kopke, Burmester, Barros), Quevedo and regular declarations from Vesuvio and Noval. Surprisingly Taylors declared their 2018 (following 16/17) but will not sell it until 2021. QUANTITIES ARE TINY. Whether it's due to careful selection, Corona virus or just a desire not to overload the market, producers have only produced a fraction of normal volumes (roughly 1/3 of normal production). Read more in our 2018 Vintage Port blog
We are pleased to announce that the major port houses have declared the 2017 Port Vintage. Extremely rare, this is the Symington family's first ever consecutive declaration and follows the acclaimed 2016 Vintage. This is a milestone moment in port history and is the result of two very different but extremely high-quality years for port in the Douro.
Warmer, drier conditions than usual resulted in an early harvest of small, compact bunches of grapes in excellent condition, with yields amongst the lowest of the century so far, 20% below the 10-year average. The resulting wines are characterised by extraordinary intensity, concentration and structure, combined with stunning aromas and freshness. Their quality and fantastic potential mean that we believe 2017 will long be remembered as a year of incredible wines.
Given the very low-yielding year, the 2017 Vintage Port is the smallest declaration of the 21st century, with en primeur volumes approximately a third less than in 2016! So far, we have secured en primeur ports from Taylors, Fonseca, Croft, Grahams, Grahams’s Stone Terraces, Smith Woodhouse, Cockburns. Dow, Vesuvio, Quevedo, Palmer, Pocas, Vesuvio Capella, Noval, Noval Nacional, Niepoort and Warres. We are working to build the most comprehensive list ever offered!
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.
Italian: In Piemonte an exceptional vintage was produced,with great promise thanks to healthy grapes and exceptionally regular bunches.
In Tuscany, a cold and rainy winter preceded an irregular spring followed by exceptionally hot, dry summer weather, creating small bunches of Sangiovese, so yields were down across the region however concentration levels concentration levels are very good.
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.
Italian: Piedmont: The 2013 wine vintage in Piedmont is of excellent quality. The year did not start well with Incessant rain during winter and spring delayed budbreak. 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: The 2013 Wine vintage offered 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**
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 Noval and Quinta do Vesuvio declared the vintage, whilst the bigger port shippers opted to make Single Quintas. Head Winemaker at Taylor Fladgate, 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.” These ports, whether Vintage or Single Quinta, would make a brilliant 10 year old wine gift for an anniversary this year.
Italian: Intense heat in Piedmont this year meant that the cooler vineyard sites may turn out to have produced the best wines, with some sunburn affecting the most exposed sites. The weather was also 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 Chianti and Montalcino produced good quality.
Bordeaux: The 2012 wine vintage was a difficult one for Bordeaux, rewarding those winemakers who were attentive.T op estates made excellent wines, and overall better than 2011. The Medoc and Graves had a tough growing season, and a very late harvest. 2012 made a difficult growing season for the right bank, but Merlot generally fared better than the Cabernets; fine wines were produced in 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 produced are tiny, while quality is maddeningly inconsistent. There are tough, unappealing wines, and some magnificent ones. This makes it a difficult year to navigate as even within a single domaine there can be varying quality. The best wines, however, have good tannic structure and will age well.
Spain: This was 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 made wines of great concentration and high tannin.
The 2011 Port vintage is hailed as a legendary vintage one of the best in decades. All of the major port houses declared the 2011 Port vintage as being of exceptional quality. The avalanche of declarations started with Sogrape, owners of Sandeman and Ferreira, followed by Symington, the company that owns Dows, Graham, Warre, Smith Woodhouse and Cockburn and then Taylor Fladgate, owners of the Fonseca, Croft and Taylor's brands. According to Charles Symington, "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." These ports would be an excellent 11 year old wine gift for an anniversary this year, reaching their peak between 2020 and 2050, perhaps even onwards.
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. Tuscany, on the other hand, was under a heatwave from Africa throughout August. This 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 weather in 2011 led to mildew and rot. A warm September saved the vintage, but with uneven ripening and a difficult harvest. There was less rot on the Right Bank than on the Left; sorting was essential, but Pomerol produced some excellent wines.
Burgundy: As so often in recent years, 2011 proved to be a tricky and challenging vintage for growers in Burgundy, 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.
Sauternes: The sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac had an exceptional vintage in 2011, approaching that of the 2001 for quality; the cool harvest maintained their acidity levels, and 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 for six months in a row. The viticultural year progressed well until July and August, when there was 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: This vintage in Italy will be remembered as a good quality vintage, but with tiny 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 wines.
Bordeaux: The 2010 for Bordeaux is widely hailed as a great vintage. The grapes were so laden with all the ingredients needed to make fine wine that there was no need for excessive intervention on the part of the winemaker; the best producers maintained a very light touch on the tiller and produced some outstanding wines. These would make a great 12 year old wine gift for an anniversary this year.
Burgundy: 2010 is a very classic vintage for Burgundy, 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 slowed grape development early in the season. However when the 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.
Sauternes: Botrytis arrived late and quickly. Wines are ripe and juicy, with tropical fruit character.
Spain: This vintage was exceptional for Ribera del Duero with no excessive weather patterns, uniform ripeness of grapes and a quality to them as promising as during the 2004 vintage. Rioja also produced good quality wines, considered better than the year before.
Ports from 2009 make an excellent 13 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary. 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, as well as 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, which are relatively fast-maturing.
Bordeaux: This was a 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, however 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 from this vintage 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, to create one of very good quality.
The 2008 port vintage produced excellent wines; had it not come so soon after the outstanding 2007 vintage, it may have been declared. The majority of the 2008 ports possess great colour extraction. The best exhibit finely tuned tannins, crisp acidity and fresh, concentrated wild berry flavours.
Italian: This year was a good one for Nebbiolo thanks to long, late summer sunshine, however the earlier-ripening Dolcetto and Barbera did not fare so well.
Bordeaux: This year produced wines which 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, making these a great 14 year old wine gift for an anniversary this year.
Burgundy: The 2008 was an accursed vintage in Burgundy, with mildew and hail 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: Initially a difficult, damp year with widespread mildew; drier conditions in August and a fine, warm September proved many producers’ saving grace. The vintage produced classically-styled wines with fresh acidity balanced by sound ripeness achieved late in the season.
Spain: A very good quality year 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.
The 2007 Port vintage was the first widely declared 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. The quantities produced are small, so there is a high demand for them. There is little doubt that 2007 is a high class vintage, making a port from this year a great 15 year old wine gift for an anniversary this year.
Italian: This was an excellent vintage for Italian wines. A mild winter followed by a warm spring resulted in a lengthy ripening season; this produced well-structured, aromatic wines with plentiful but ripe, velvety tannins.
Bordeaux: The finest 2007 wines 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, however, the wines lack density, structure, and serious long-term ageing 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. The Champagnes produced generally contain above average acidities.
Spain: After a miserable summer, frost in the latter half of September decimated the crop from many young Ribera del Duero vineyards. Most grapes struggled to ripen, but late pickers were rewarded.
The 2006 Port Vintage was a year that produced good Single Quinta Vintage Ports. Heavy winter rains replenished the drought-exhausted water table following the very good but dry 2005 vintage. Good weather followed, and flowering took place during the hottest May in 40 years. Temperatures steadily increased until a severe hailstorm hit vineyards in the Pinhão valley in the middle of June. Several vineyards lost up to 30% of the crop. A hot July followed, superseded by a cooler August and some much needed rain. More hot weather late August and early September caused some raisining and crop reduction in exposed vineyards. Picking began mid-September just ahead of a rainy spell.
Yields for 2006 were down at least 15% below average.
Italian: In Piedmont, a coolish summer became an Indian summer punctuated by two bouts of rain, but the grapes were healthy enough to withstand them. The wines produced are promising. Tuscany produced a very promising vintage with a steady, prolonged growing season and well balanced wines.
Bordeaux: 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: Poor summer with vine health problems produced wines which at their best are very pure and expressive, at their worst just a bit too austere for comfort.
Champagne: This year boasted 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. The wines produced are supple and expressive, making a great 16 year old wine gift for an anniversary this year.
Spain: Some spring hail in Rioja led into a hot summer with some drought stress. This year has not lived up to the two previous vintages.
The 2005 Port Vintage was not widely declared but, nevertheless produced some excellent ports. The big producers did not declare the vintage and concentrated on producing Single Quinta ports from selected vineyards. Some smaller producers did declare 2005. The 2005 vintage ports are already approachable but would benefit from further cellaring.
Italian: In Tuscany and Piedmont climate conditions were erratic, with many producers saying 2005 had been a tough and difficult vintage. These tough weather conditions often mean that only the best producers get the best results; the best wines will be Brunello, Barolo or Barbaresco.
Bordeaux: 2005 was an outstanding vintage in Bordeaux, one that produced wines that are rich in substance, flavour and tannin, and from which most have good acidity. 2005 Bordeaux wines were 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. These would make a great 17 year old wine gift for an anniversary this year.
Burgundy: As in Bordeaux this was a quite exceptionally good vintage, although many wines may go through a prolonged stage of chewy adolescence.
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. Generally, the acidity of a 2005 Champagne will be low.
Spain: Another good vintage with high temperatures, but with (just) enough rain.
Vintage Port: The 2004 vintage was not generally declared, but some wonderful single quinta vintages were bottled. These 2004 Vintage Ports show an 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, making them an ideal 18 year old wine gift for an anniversary this year.
Italian: Produce of Piemonte in 2004 is very promising with few extremes of weather and well balanced wines. In Tuscany, the year was an exceptionally good vintage, central Italy’s equivalent of the perfect growing season that France experienced in 2005.
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: 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: Unusually, quality and quantity were both hallmarks of 2004. The vintage produced structured, well-balanced wines which have exceeded expectation.
Spain: A very good year, especially for Rioja, with wines that should last well.
Vintage Port: A general declaration of vintage, the 2003 produced classic Vintage Port. This year's wines have great traditional tannic structure with attractive ripe fruit flavours.
Italian: In 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. As for Tuscany, very difficult heat wave conditions were felt in all but the highest vineyards of Chianti Classico. For this reason, Tuscan 2003 wines tend to be fairly unbalanced.
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 (noble rot). A 2003 Bordeaux, whether dry or sweet, would make a brilliant 19 year old wine gift for an anniversary celebration this year.
Burgundy: In 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 provided good, luscious drinking when tasted in 2008. Dry tannins are expected to make their presence increasingly felt over time.
Champagne: Spring frosts followed by one of the hottest summers on record led to small volumes and typically very ripe wines of middling quality. However, 2003 did produce some fine Pinot Noir-dominant blends.
Spain: The growing season in Spain was made difficult by drought, however those producers who looked after their vines produced excellent, intensely concentrated wines.
The 2002 Port Vintage was a potentially excellent one for those who picked their grapes before the rains which came late in the season, however, not so great for those who did not.
Italian: The 2002 was a poor vintage for Italian wines - only the best producers' wines will be reliable for quality.
Bordeaux: For the third year in a row Bordeaux pulled off yet another miracle vintage, thanks to a final bout of fine weather. The long, fine, sunny days of early autumn - and a great October, in fact - opened the way for some fine wines. The best-prepared chateaux 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 colours, and lots of power. Quite full-bodied, these could make a great 20 year old wine gift for an anniversary this year.
Champagne: The 2002 is proving to be the finest Champagne vintage since 1996, more redolent of 1995 or 1990 in terms of the ripeness of fruit and power of structure.
One of the wettest winters on record was followed by 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, so rain on the 29th and again on the 5th of October affected only the tail end of the vintage. All in all, yields were up almost 30% over the preceding year.
David Guimaraens, Head Winemaker at Taylor's, Fonseca and Croft and the sixth generation of his family to make wines for Fonseca, 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 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 favourable 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. These would make an excellent 21 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary celebration this year, and will keep well for years to come.
Bordeaux: The 2001 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 allowed the late harvest of a large crop. The wines will be relatively slow to evolve given the relatively good acid and tannin levels.
Rhone: The 2001 Rhone valley vintage produced powerful, juicy wines with concentrated, ripe fruit and silky tannins. The vintage was marked by a dry summer which concentrated sugar levels and a cooler September which, due to the northerly winds, contributed very good acidity levels alongside ripe tannins. 2001 may be more complete than the 1998s, making it the best vintage here for a dozen years.
Italian: 2000 was one of the finest post-war vintages for Piedmont wines. The wines are still tannic and youthful, and will last for many years to come.
Bordeaux: The fabled millennium vintage produced wines that are of true greatness and longevity. They are characterised as being powerful and 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. These have evolved slowly and will continue to do so for decades to come, making them an excellent idea for a 22 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary whether to drink now or keep for future drinking.
Vintage Port: 1999 was not a general declaration of vintage, however some vineyards produced small quantities of outstanding single quinta wines. These make a great 23 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary.
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: A very good vintage that produced low acidity, ripe wines which have matured quickly and are drinkable now. However, they should last for years to come. 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, a discrepancy reflected in the wide variation in quality across the region.
Vintage Port: A port wine from 1998 would make an excellent 24 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary. This year was not generally declared as a vintage, however a small crop produced some good and powerful Single Quinta Vintage Ports. Colheitas or Single Harvest Ports such as Kopke or Barros would make an excellent alternative for port lovers and newcomers alike.
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, we would recommend picking a Barolo or Barbaresco from Piedmont. The wines are classics and will drink well now or keep for years to come.
Bordeaux: This year favoured the merlot grape, leading to a glorious vintage in Pomerol and St Emilion. 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 underrated, 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 an excellent one. The wines are ripe but not overly so, 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.
Italian: 1997 was undoubtedly a great vintage for Italian wines. Like the 1982 and 1990 Bordeaux vintages, 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 wines of Bordeaux are characterised by being attractive, soft and 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. A 1996 Vintage Port would make for an excellent 26 year old gift for a special anniversary this year.
Italian: 1996 was an outstanding vintage for Italian wines. 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, offering a superlative drinking experience if kept well. 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 - making them brilliant 25 year old wine gifts for a birthday or anniversary.
Bordeaux: The 1996 vintage produced exceptional wines that broke all price records (until the 2000 vintage). The top wines reached full maturity a decade ago, but will keep for many more years.
Spain: A very good vintage for Spain, though less fine than the preceding two. The 1996 was particularly successful in Ribera del Duero, where ripe, relatively friendly wines were made.
Vintage Port: The 1995 port wine vintage is rated as very good. 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 Quintas with concentrated, fruity and well-structured ports. The 1995 port vintage also offers plenty of good examples of barrel aged (tawny) port from established producers such as Kopke, Messias, Barros and Krohn that would offer exceptional drinking today, making these excellent 27 year old wine gifts for a 27th birthday or 27th anniversary celebration.
Italian: The 1995 wine vintage in Italy is generally rated as good. Although it was overshadowed by the exceptional vintages that followed. The vintage produced consistent wines - the best examples from Tuscany and Piedmont are now at the peak of their maturity.
Bordeaux: The 1995 wine vintage produced consistent Bordeaux wines that reached full maturity by 2012. Superb weather in 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: The 1995 vintage for Spain was an 'Excelente' vintage with what was then (although superseded in 1996, then '97 and '98) the biggest harvest of all time. This was the second 5-star year vintage in a row.
Vintage Port: A 1994 Vintage Port makes a great 28 year old wine gift for a 28th birthday or anniversary: 1994 was 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 need 20 years in bottle, making them mature for drinking now or perfect to age for another 20 years. Our wine buyer highly recommends the 1994 Taylor's Vintage Port , an outstanding Vintage Port that scored an incredible 100 points from Wine Spectator and 97 from Robert Parker.
Italian: In Tuscany, the Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile and Brunello had a very good year with a warm early Spring. The good weather conditions carried through to the harvest season with healthy, ripe fruit. In Piedmont prolonged rain caused serious problems, however a few producers still made good Barolo and Barbaresco wines.
Bordeaux: 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: The 1993 was one of the worst years ever for weather in the Douro, with rain falling throughout the harvest. No declarations were made and little or no vintage Port was made.
Italian: Italian wines from the 1993 vintage fared better than their predecessors in 1992 - the weather was still unfavourable, however there were more acceptable wines produced. Barolos from this vintage offered a good experience, and should still be drinking now.
Bordeaux: The 1993 in Bordeaux 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 good structure. The top wines from 1993 find more favour with critics than 1991 and 1992 and should still offer a good drinking experience now, making them a good 29 year old wine gift for a 29th birthday or anniversary celebration.
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: The 1992 vintage was declared by some port houses who produced some rich and concentrated wines. The port was still young in 2008 and benefitted from further cellaring, making them a brilliant 30 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary in 2022.
Italian: A poor year for Italian wines, the weather did not favour the vintage. The best producers will be the only ones to have produced good wines from this year.
Bordeaux: For Bordeaux, rain during the harvest produced wines of variable quality. The crop was enormous but most of the top vineyards adopted strict selection policies, discarding a large percentage. 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: Declared as a Vintage by some producers, the first since 1985. The 1991 was 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) while Taylor and Fonseca declared Single Quinta wines. Both the declared 1991 Vintage Ports and the 1991 Single Quinta wines would make a great 31 year old wine gift for a 31st birthday or anniversary celebration.
Italian: The 1991 Italian vintage was better than first thought, but did not rival the three exceptional vintages that preceded it. July was generally very hot and sunny, which continued into August. September remained 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 the 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 still drinking well now.
The 1991 was generally an inconsistent vintage for Bordeaux, 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 east side 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.
The 1990 Port vintage produced abundant quantities of good quality port wine. Generally produced as Single Qunitas and outstanding Colheita Port. Paul Symington writes "The Douro 1990 Vintage can be summed up in just four words – production, enormous – quality, excellent. The 1990 Vintage has probably favoured not so much the very early starting quintas, but those whose grapes were picked from the third week of September onwards; however, overall quality promises to be good to excellent." 29 October 1990.
Italian: 1990 was a spectacular vintage for Italy, 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 Wine Vintage 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, making them great 32 year old wine gifts for a birthday or anniversary.
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 was not a general declaration of Vintage for Ports. However this was a good year that produced some attractive, full bodied single quinta wines with plenty of appeal. A Port like our 1989 Messias Vintage Port , recommended by our wine buyer, makes an excellent 33 year old wine gift for a 33rd birthday or anniversary.
The 1989 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 Julien, Pauillac and Pomerol but not so much Margaux. The wines from this vintage are generally characterised by high tannin levels, low acidity and high alcohol levels due to the ripe grapes. Our recommendation would be a luscious sweet and long-lived 1989 Sauternes .
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.
Portugal: 1989 was a very hot year in Portugal. The summer was extremely warm which led to an early harvest under ideal climatic conditions. There are some some excellent dry wines produced from this harvest. Our recommendation is the 1989 Poco de Lobo Cabernet Sauvignon , fully mature and still drinking beautifully.
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 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: This was the first in a trio of great vintages for Bordeaux, 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. These would make a brilliant 34 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary celebration.
Vintage Port: The 1987 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, providing good value for money. These quality Ports would make an excellent 35 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary.
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.
Bordeaux: In Bordeaux, the 1987 is 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 soon.
Spain: A highly respected vintage of very good quality. The highest and latest-picked vineyards gave the best grapes – so Rioja Alavesa benefitted.
Vintage Port: 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, however there was no declaration of vintage in 1986. Tawny or Single Harvest Ports will offer a great alternative to Vintage Port.
Italian: 1986 was a very good year for Italian wines. The wines produced that year are generally quite consistent and there are some great Barolos 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 next decade or two. 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 tastings the 1986 usually stands out because of this particular quality. The wines only reached their peak recently but will remain there for many years to come. Drinking well now, these wines would make a great 36 year old wine gift for a birthday or celebration and would grace the table of any anniversary event.
Spain: The 1986 was a good vintage for Rioja and Ribera Del Duero, with the former producing some good but rather lean wines and the latter standing out for its power, structure and complexity.
Vintage Port: The 1985 is a great classic Port Vintage, with concentrated, rich and potent wines. The year was a general declaration of vintage, the majority of Houses judging it to be up to their high standards. 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 resulting ports 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 10-15 years. A Port from 1985 would make an excellent 37 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary.
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, and 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 for Spanish wines, 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 Gran Reserva production.
Vintage Port: A 1984 Port would make an excellent 38 year old wine gift, whether for a birthday or anniversary. Although there was no declaration of vintage this year, some attractive single Quinta ports were produced. These bottles are by 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 winemakers' skills were tested in order to produce a good wine. Some excellent examples of the winemakers' talent are around, such as Warre, Dow and Fonseca, as well as our wine buyer's recommendation: the 1984 Taylor's Quinta de Vargellas . Some excellent single-harvest Colheitas were also produced by Houses such as Kopke.
Italian: 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 was therefore 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 acceptable wines.
Bordeaux: The 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 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. Emilion and Pomerol. The left bank fared 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. There were instances of frost on May 13th in Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa, and a hail storm on September 4th hung over Villalba, Briñas and Labastida. Due to hurricane Hortensia hitting the country on October 4th, around 250 tons of produce was lost, the harvest occurred late and fermentation was cool. Despite all of this, however, a 1984 Rioja generally makes a sound wine with a bit of colour to it.
Vintage Port: 1983 vintage ports are now considered great classic, concentrated, rich and potent wines. It was a general declaration of vintage, with 10 major shippers declaring 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. These are excellent value-for-money ports, and would make a brilliant 39 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary.
Italian: The 1983 wine vintage is rated as very good for the regions of Tuscany and Piedmont. The vintage produced rich, structured, full-bodied wines that are still drinking well today.
Bordeaux: The 1983 vintage produced wines of mixed quality, with some excellent wines from the Margaux region. A tropical humid heat-wave in August led to over-ripening in some regions, but those Chateaux 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, however 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 and beginning of October.
Vintage Port: 1982 was a good Port Vintage, with elegant and aromatic wines. Although a few Houses declared the Vintage, most made Quinta wines.
Italian: 1982 was a tremendous vintage for big, rich and fruity Barolo and Barbaresco wines. 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 such as Chianti or Brunello were also in fine form producing ripe, flavoursome, well-balanced wines. These Italians would make a great 40 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary this year.
The 1982 was an outstanding wine vintage that produced some of the most complex profound Bordeaux wines since 1961. Great weather made this vintage a success - 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 Emilion, 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 for years to come.
Champagne: 1982 is an exceptionally fine, rich vintage for Champagne. Ideal weather conditions 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: No vintage port was made in 1981. Our recommendation would be for a 1981 Colheita port from 1981. Kopke are renowned for their colheita and this would make a wonderful gift for a 41 year old Birthday or Anniversary this year.
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, and will offer a good drinking experience.
Spain: 1981 was considered one of the great vintages for Rioja, and this wine is at its peak of maturity.
The 1980 Port vintage is rated as outstanding and was generally declared vintage. Over time the 1980 Ports have been hugely under-rated book-ended by the great 1977 and large abundant 1983 and 1985 vintages. This vintage is ready now but will continue to develop and keep for decades, making them the perfect 42 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary.
An unusually early spring was followed by an extremely dry growing season and sugar readings were on the low side when picking began a week or so later than normal, at the end of September.
Italian: 1980 for Italian wines was a very good year. The 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 from Bordeaux. 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 acceptable wines.
Champagne: In Champagne, the 1980 is an exceptionally fine, rich vintage.
Vintage Port: A Vintage Port from 1979 makes an excellent 43 year old wine gift for a 43rd birthday or anniversary. Still drinking well, 1979 ports are part of a span of good vintages from 1977 to 1980. A very wet winter was followed by a dry hot summer and no rainfall from late June until 18th September. The crop was large and produced many 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: Initially overlooked in preference to the 1978 Vintage, 1979 was one of the very few cool years that produced a good vintage for Bordeaux. The wines were initially very tannic and acidic but after four decades of cellaring the wines have matured nicely and are now at their peak. They will remain so for years to come.
Vintage Port: 1978 was a good Port vintage, although not a declared one; the 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 Warre's, Dow's, Cockburn's, Smith Woodhouse and Graham's among others) 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."
Italian: 1978 was 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 those producers who picked later benefited from a period of uninterrupted fine weather. Altogether for Tuscany this was a 4 out of 5 Vintage. Conversely, the year started with cold and damp weather in Piedmont. 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 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. By the end of the season this hailed as a great, long-lived vintage with a rating of 5/5. The produce of an exceptional vintage, 1970 ageing wine such as Barolo would make an excellent 44 year old wine gift for any birthday or anniversary.
Bordeaux: The 1978 wine vintage was excellent for the Bordeaux region. The dry, hot summer produced wines that were medium-bodied, deeply coloured, fruity and moderately tannic. The wines reached their peak of maturity in the 1990s but are still drinking well now and will continue to do so for some years to come.
Vintage Port: The 1977 was a classic vintage, declared by all the major port houses. Even after more than thirty years, the ports are only just becoming approachable and 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. A 1977 port would make a brilliant 45 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary!
Italian: 1977 was a good vintage for Italian wines. Top regions such as Tuscany and Piedmont produced rich, full bodied wines - they are now fully mature but will still make good drinking today.
Bordeaux: Poor weather throughout the growing season in Bordeaux 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 in Spain made very good wine – for example, Martínez Bujanda and Salceda – but most of it was run-of-the-mill and was drunk as joven (very young wine). A meagre 1% achieved Gran Reserva status.
Vintage Port: 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, however those ports 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 bottle aged ports available but the Colheita ports (barrel aged) from this year are excellent. These would make a great 46 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary.
Italian: A large crop was produced, but the 1976 wines lacked the ripeness and longevity of the preceding vintage. Although the wines will not improve further with age, they are still very drinkable - Barolo or Amarone being the most likely to offer a great experience.
Bordeaux: 1976 wines still offer delightful, attractive drinking if they have been well stored. The wines are characterised as soft-bodied, with low acidity levels.
Rain during the harvest that followed 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%.
Vintage Port: 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 like the 1970 or the 1977, they have stood up well and represent a superb quality vs price ratio. Recent tastings have demonstrated that the best are elegant and a pleasure to drink. The wines are now fully mature, with the top producers producing good '75s that will grow old gracefully. They are elegant, fruity and well balanced but not big. A port from 1975 would make an excellent 47 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary.
Italian: The 1975 is widely regarded as an excellent vintage for Tuscany. The wines are generally big on alcohol, colour, extract and acidity. 1975 is remembered for the extremely hot and dry summer which produced grapes of high concentration, although 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 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 were incredibly tannic yet were intensely fruity and rich. This has mellowed somewhat over 40+ years of cellaring leaving excellent examples of wines that will last well into the future.
The 1974 port vintage produced some excellent single harvest colheita, making a port from this year the ideal 47 year old wine gift for a 47th birthday or anniversary. For 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 that were produced are very rare.
Italian: Celebrated as a great vintage in Italy at the time, the 1974 vintage is now still considered to be very good. The 1974 vintage produced a large crop, close to the 1964 but with less quality. 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. Wines produced in this year have reached full maturity but continue to hold.
Bordeaux: A massive crop was produced, but the 1974 wines from Bordeaux 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 now.
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. A big harvest year, the best wines were produced by those vineyards that adopted careful selection. These will make a perfect gift for a 49 year old birthday or celebration this year.
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, although 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 in this year. Port wines from 1972 are now fully mature but well stored examples will last for many years more, making them a great 50 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary.
Italian: Only a small crop of 1972 wine was produced in Italy 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, generally characterised as having good colour, high acidity and some dryness. The best of the vintage originates from the more southerly regions.
Vintage Port: No Vintage Ports were produced in 1971.
Italian: 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. These wines would make an excellent 50 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary. In Piedmont, Barolo and Barbaresco are outstanding with a high level of consistency. In Tuscany, the best results were in Chianti where this year was officially rated a 5-star vintage. Many of the wines have shown exceptional ageing qualities. It was also a good vintage for Brunello. A 1971 Italian wine would be our recommendation for a superb 51 year old wine gift for a special anniversary or birthday.
The 1970 Port Vintage was universally declared as a vintage of outstanding quality. Ideal growing conditions produced what is now a classic, outstanding vintage. The 1970 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 - a bottle from this year would make a stunning 52 year old wine gift for a birthday or 52nd anniversary this year.
Italian: The Italian 1970 wine vintage was an outstanding one for the wine regions of Tuscany and Piedmont. The 1970 wine vintage produced rich, structured, full bodied wines that are still drinking well today. In Tuscany the spring was unusually cold resulting in a late bud break. This was mitigated by a long hot summer which continued well into autumn. The producers took advantage to harvest late, obtaining very good sugar levels. The vintage was excellent for Chianti and Brunello. In Piedmont It was a very good vintage obscured by legendary 1971 vintage. Barolo, Barbaresco, Nebbiolo all shine through.
Bordeaux: An outstanding vintage, against which others are often compared. The 1970 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: The 1970 Rioja vintage was recognised by wine critics from around the world as a very good vintage - this was a turning point for the industry and caused a surge in consumer interest in the wines of Spain.
Vintage Port: A vintage Port from the 1969 vintage makes a perfect 53 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary. Some excellent Colheita (Tawny) Ports were produced from the 1969 harvest and these are highly recommended by our wine buyer. The 1969 vintage was good enough to yield a few single Quinta vintage ports, notably Taylors Vargellas and some exceptional Colheita ports.
Italian: 1969 was a good 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 lighter wines such as Chianti and Valpolicella. The wines are now fully mature and still drinking well.
Bordeaux: The 1969 wine vintage was unkind to Bordeaux reds. 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. However, sweet wines from the regions of Sauternes and Barsac were very good in this year and will last for many more years.
Vintage Port: Making an excellent 54 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary, 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 (Sandeman) and Single Quinta ports were declared. There are still a few Colheita ports available which are drinking very well but stocks are tiny. These bottles are 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: Making a great 55 year old wine gift for any 55th birthday or anniversary, the 1967 port vintage is a very good vintage that was somewhat overshadowed by the exceptional 1966. It was declared by about 15 shippers. 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 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: Making the perfect 56 year old wine gift for anniversaries or birthdays, 1966 is an outstanding Port vintage of exceptional quality that was generally declared. Always overshadowed by the legendary 1963, this year is 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 their 1963 counterparts and turn out greater in the long run.
Italian: 1966 produced a good vintage for Italian wines from Piedmont and Tuscany. 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: Port wines from 1965 make a great 57 year old wine gift, whether for a 57th birthday or anniversary. Ports of this year 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, and there are very few single quintas port around, however there are some outstanding colheita ports available such as the highly recommended 1965 Taylor's Single Harvest .
Italian: Whilst Bordeaux suffered from poor weather, Piedmont and Tuscany produced an abundant crop of long-lived 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 stood the test of time.
Vintage Port: A bottle of port from 1964 makes the perfect 58 year old wine gift, whether for a birthday or anniversary. Our wine buyer recommends the single harvest colheita ports such as the 1964 Messias Colheita Port , as these are drinking very well. They also come with the added advantage that they can be savoured for months after opening. 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. However, some truly excellent single harvest Colheitas were produced. The weather at the start of the year was unsettled, with rain and thunderstorms at the end of July 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 harvested were more raisin than the winemakers would like and this is reflected in the small amounts of port produced.
Italian: An outstanding 5-star vintage in Piedmont and Tuscany that produced wines of immense grandeur. The depth of the bouquet and the fullness of 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 to give a large crop.
Bordeaux: 1964 favoured the right bank of Bordeaux, 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.
Spain: 1964 has been known as the 'vintage of the century' for Rioja. Tastings of various wines from different estates and classifications reveal the same incredible sweet fruit, vibrancy and youthfulness. An excellent vintage for Spain.
Vintage Port: 1963 vintage ports are the benchmark against which others are compared: the Vintage is considered to be legendary. The perfect 59 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary, anyone born in 1963 has a wine for life. Cockburn, Croft, Dow, Fonseca, Graham, Quinta do Noval Nacional, Taylor and Warre all stand out amongst a uniformly excellent field of producers. The combination of a near-perfect growing season and temperate weather during the harvest made for this incredible vintage - nearly all the shippers produced supremely balanced and well-structured wines for a full-on declaration. Ports from this year never fail to impress with their essential three components of fruit, tannin and elegance. Aging supremely and retaining their youth, these ports often appear to be younger than they actually 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. Because of this, rot was a continual issue throughout the region.
Italian: An excellent vintage across the main regions of Piedmont and Tuscany. The 1962 wines produced exhibit a deep colour, rich intensity and 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 unfortunately overshadowed by legendary 1961. 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. These make the perfect 60 year old wine gifts for a birthday or anniversary.
Vintage Port: While not generally a declared year, the hot weather produced some concentrated ports in 1961. The harvest started in extremely hot conditions at the river quinta in early September, progressing in other areas until the end of the month making it a long, drawn out vintage. The picking required a very rigorous selection which entailed picking out the burnt and imperfect grapes from the bunches before putting them in the baskets. This led to a small harvest, making bottles from this year quite rare. Making a great 61 year old wine gift for any birthday or anniversary, the 1961 ports produced are still drinking well today.
Italian: In Italy, 1961 is considered to be one of the greatest vintages of the 20th century. The wines from Piedmont (Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera) and Tuscany (Chianti, Brunello) are outstanding. Now fully mature these wines, 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 few years.
The 1960 Port Vintage was outstanding and was declared by all of the major Port houses. Port wines from 1960 have now settled into glorious old Vintage Ports of the very highest quality. After more than 62 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. An incredible 62 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary, they will last for decades to come or offer a superlative drinking experience now.
Italian: The 1960 is rated as an average vintage for Italian wines. 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 will now be drinkable. The great estates from Sauternes and Barsac produced some good sweet wines in what was generally a depressed decade for the region.
Vintage Port: The 1959 port wine vintage was a poor one. There were no declarations for vintage port and only a few single harvest colheitas were made.
Italian: The 1959 Italian wine vintage was a very good vintage that has often 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 six decades the wines surpass the 1961s in many cases. Well-stored 1959 wines are still at their peak and will remain so for years to come, making an excellent 63 year old wine gift for a 63rd birthday or anniversary.
Vintage Port: 1958 ports represent a good year with some fragrant and delicate Vintage Ports, despite the rather damp weather conditions throughout. This year was declared by some, but not all, of the major Port houses.
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 such as these still make very good drinking today, and would make great 64 year old wine gifts for a birthday or anniversary celebration this year.
Vintage Port: The 1957 was 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 was 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. These would make a brilliant 65 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary celebration this year.
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.
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, especially long-lived grapes such as Barolo - these would make a great 66 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary this year.
Bordeaux: Unfortunately, poor weather conditions led to the production of one of the worst vintages on record for Bordeaux - avoid!
Vintage Port: 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, 1955 was declared by most of the major Port houses and would make a brilliant 67 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary celebration this year. Ports from this vintage are characterised by having outstanding fruit and being superbly balanced wines, fruity, smooth and concentrated.
Italian: The 1955 Italian vintage was part of a run of solid vintages between 1954 and 1958. The main regions of Tuscany and Piedmont produced rich, full bodied wines. Wines from this vintage are mature but heavy-weights such as Brunello and Barolos are going on strong, and will offer an excellent drinking experience if kept well.
Bordeaux: The 1955 Bordeaux 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, decades of maturation have softened them and they are now at their peak. The wines are characterised by being full bodied and rich.
Vintage Port: This year was a good vintage that is now very hard to find, and would make a perfect 66 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary. Not a declared year, this Vintage has been fully mature for many years - however if well cellared, the best 1954 port wines will be fine for years to come.
Italian: A moderate year for Piedmont.
Bordeaux: 1954 was an awful vintage for Bordeaux wines. Avoid!
Vintage Port: 1953 was not a declared year, so Ports from the year are difficult to find.
Italian: The 1953 vintage was generally an excellent year for Italian wine, as it was for other regions throughout Europe.
Bordeaux: Another strong candidate for Bordeaux vintage of the century, the 1953 wines are sumptuous and rich, and have always been exalted highly by critics. The 1953 vintage reached its peak in the 1970s and is now declining slowly, however the wines are still very drinkable and will last many more years. These would make a good 68 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary celebration this 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.
1951 was not a declared vintage for Port. A Colheita (barrel aged single harvest) Port is a good alternative for this vintage, and would be a lovely 70 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary celebration this year. 1951 Single Quinta ports may still be drinkable, but are in short supply.
The weather throughout the growing season was good and only broke after the grapes were in.
Maurice Symington writes in his winemakers Diary
" The lagares took plenty of “work”: colour good. Temperatures felt low in the lagares. Grapes rendered more than estimated. Bomfim musts approximately 96/97 pipes. Zimbro about 35 and Sra da Ribeira (excluding outside grapes) about 70. There seems no reason not to be satisfied with this vintage from every angle."
Production was limited to Single Quintas Vintage Ports. We have not had the opportunity to taste any 1951 Single Quintas, but reports indicate that this was not a strong vintage.
However, some excellent 1951 Colheita (barrel aged) ports were made and these are sublime. They are in very 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: Unfortunately, bad conditions led to a poor year for Bordeaux.
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 Bordeaux wines from 1950 are prodigious and outstanding, the two best appellations being St Emilion and Pomerol. The 1950 wines are unbelievably rich, unctuous and concentrated and in many cases are capable of rivaling the greatest of the 1949 and 1947 vintages. Any examples of these which have been kept with care would make a good 71 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary this year.
Vintage Port: A poor year for the Oporto ports.
Italian: 1949 wine exhibits 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 - '45, '47, '48 and '49. 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: 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 forgotten. The wines have aged extremely well and the best still tend to make excellent drinking today. 1948 wines will last for many years to come, making them a great idea for a 73 year old wine gift, for a birthday or anniversary celebration this year.
Vintage Port: The 1947 port vintage was outstanding. This year produced elegant and delicate ports and 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 - a port from this year would make an extremely rare 72 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary this year.
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 the year; the quality of the following vintage would have become clear already.
Bordeaux: The 1946 Bordeaux wine vintage was always going to be in the shadow of the legend that was the 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 produced was small. 22 shippers declared the vintage, with Cockburn being the only major abstention. The ports are now very rare but are still drinking well today, making them an excellent 76 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary this year.
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 celebration 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.
Vintage Port: 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. Making the perfect 75 year old wine gifts for a birthday or anniversary, these Colheita ports are true rarities which have been barrel aged until a special bottling commissioned by Vintage Wine and Port. The 1944 Kopke Colheita Port has been selected by the producer as being of the highest quality, and we would recommend it as a truly excellent gift. These colheita ports from the 1944 harvest have already undergone oxidative ageing and as with all tawny port can therefore be savoured over two months after opening.
Italian: The 1944 Italian Vintage was overshadowed by the war, however a limited number of bottles were still 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 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.
Vintage Port: This year was, despite WWII, declared by some shippers such as Graham's. Production was small due to continued post-war restrictions, but those wines which have been cared for are still drinking well now. These would make an excellent 80 year old wine gift for a birthday or anniversary this year.
Bordeaux: The 1942 vintage produced good quality wines during a difficult harvest under wartime 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.
Vintage Port: A few rare bottles of Colheita exist - a rare and precious commodity.
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.
Vintage Port: The 1927 Port vintage is a legend! It is widely accepted as one of the great vintage Port years of the 20th century, declared by about 30 shippers. The weather through the growing season allowed for a relatively early harvest. The harvest was enormous and most Port houses declared a far larger quantity than was usual in vintage years. Despite the large volumes released, quality was extremely high, with concentrated fruit and fine structure, which has allowed the wines to age extremely well. The release was at a time of economic depression and much of the vintage was unsold and so ended up being blended with standard ruby Ports.
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.