Decanter's vintage guide for Médoc and Graves 1961.
A classic vintage, producing concentrated yet finely-balanced claret
The weather played a major part in the production of what is generally accepted to be a great vintage for Bordeaux‘s red wines. Despite a frosty spring, vegetation was advanced, but as the months progressed cold conditions reduced the flowering and rain washed away the pollen, reducing the potential crop. At the end of July persistent rain fell, and drought conditions prevailed in August, which was followed by a warm, sunny September. This pattern effectively ‘pruned’ the crop, then ripened the remaining fruit thoroughly. The harvest began at the end of September.
The outstanding feature of this vintage was its consistency across the board, from first growths to Crus Bourgeois. But on the right bank, although some crus seemed to re-capture their pre-’56 form, many actually did better in ’64. On the left bank every appellation produced some outstanding examples. The wines were in most cases very attractive drinking by the end of the first decade, because of their fine harmony and depths of flavour and have lasted splendidly.
The front runners are Latour, Mouton, and Palmer. Then come Haut Brion, La Mission, Margaux, Leoville-Las-Cases, Cos d’Estournel, Calon-Segur, Gruaud-Larose, Lynch-Bages, Leoville-Barton, Leoville-Poyferre, Ducru-Beaucaillou, Brane-Cantenac, Haut-Bailly and Pape-Clement. Lafite shows big bottle variations. But second-line crus like Batailley and Croizet-Bages were also excellent.