Great vintages imply a happy alignement of the planets. The winemaker takes great care of his vines, he hopes for smooth weather and gradual ripening of the fruit since grape best captures its terroir's subtil flavors slowly and softly. Late frosts, heatwaves and droughts should be avoided. Ideal conditions are a slow rise in temperature, soft regular rain and a generous but non-burning sun.
This clever alchemy only occurs once in a while. It is then referred to as a great vintage, leave it to winemakers to make it a great wine. The 20th century witnessed a few iconic years, here are some of them :
Despite a heatwave, this year's crop was fantastic both in quality and quantity, from Bordeaux to Bourgogne, to Côtes du Rhône and Champagne. A plethora of successes, especially for red wines. Saint-Emilion or even Saint-Estèphe wines, with their powerful and velvety tanins, are highly respected. Among exceptional wines are also Châteaux Grand Mayne or Château Cos Labory's great accomplishments.
We'd been wainting for 30 years, great wines from Vallée de la Loire come from the year of the fall of the Berlin wall. A particularly hot and sunny summer gave white wines a bright fruity flavor. Vouvray wines are especially accomplished. Weather conditions were also very favorable to other wines from the french vineyard's northern fringe : Alsace, Jura and its yellow wines as well as a number of great Bordeaux wines.
For lovers of Côtes du Rhône, 1978 is a legendary year. Châteauneuf du Pape wines are exceptionally concentrated and complex. Same goes for Hermitage wines. This vintage's Bougogne wines are also a point of reference, they age beautifully and possess a particularly generous bouquet as well as a beautiful color. Bottled, we recommend products from Domaine Nicolas, famous for their selection quality.
1961 wasn't destined to be a great wine year. Spring was made difficult by late frosts in Vallée du Rhône and Aquitaine and even though it led to lower yields, it didn't temper with the wine quality in the least. A hot and dry summer, which went into early fall, ensured a perfect maturation of the grape, especially on Bordeaux appellations. Excellent and rare wines, this year is a point of reference for wine collectors. Some bottles reach very high prices but it is possible to purchase wines from Château Carbonnieux or Château Phélan Ségur for very reasonable prices.
Even just for the Bordeaux region, we could name many other great vintages from the 20th century. Starting with the famous 1982 as well as 1945 and 1929. A great wine, like a great vintage, is a matter of taste and opinion. The pleasure of exchanging, sometimes even debating, is as important to those who share this passion.