A Saint-Emilion and Pomerol vintage guide back to 1961.

2008

Keep

Small, late vintage of quite exciting quality, especially Pomerol. Top wines are seductive, with the structure, tannins and acidity for ageing.

Weather Conditions

The Right Bank’s early season was marked by wet, cool, yo-yo weather. Budburst was sluggish, flowering poor and uneven, and fruit set inconsistent. High rainfall (August was its wettest for 30 years) spelt first mildew with rot later. Although July was dry and sunny, ripening was slow and erratic and growers were out in force removing the dud berries. Then glorious sunshine. From mid-September to mid-October the hitherto ‘lazy’ grapes were given the kick-start they needed to achieve full physiological ripeness. Winemakers eked out the harvest as long as possible, finishing as rains returned later in October. Yields were 16% down on the average, with poor flowering being the main culprit, but also hail, especially in the satellite appellations of Montagne- and Lussac-Saint-Emilion.

Best Appellations

Quality was more exciting than expected, though as with the Médoc, rigorous fruit sorting both before and after harvesting was crucial. Not all producers managed it. The smallness of the Merlot crop contributed to great fruit purity, with Cabernet Franc telling a similar story.
The best Saint-Emilions are rich, ripe and modern, with seductive aromas and flavours. They’re fruity and rounded, well suited for early drinking but with the texture, acidity and ripe tannins for ageing. Terroir is evident. In Pomerol, the low yields arising from mildew and poor flowering have resulted in markedly uniform quality, though perhaps not surprisingly it’s the top estates that are the stars of the vintage. Wines are ripe and concentrated, opulent even, with good texture and aromatics and lovely fresh acidity.

Best Producers

SAINT-EMILION: châteaux Cheval Blanc, Ausone, Figeac, Troplong-Mondot, Clos Fourtet, Pavie, Vieux Château Mazeret, Pavie-Macquin, then Larcis-Ducasse, Canon-La-Gaffelière, Canon, Angélus, Trottevieille, Belair-Monange, Les Asteries, Chapelle d’Ausone, Le dome, De Valandraud, La Gaffelière. POMEROL: châteaux Le Pin, Pétrus, L’Eglise-Clinet, Trotanoy, Lafleur, L’Evangile, La Conseillante, La Fleur-Pétrus, Vieux-Château-Certan. COTES DE CASTILLON: Château Domaine de l’A.

2007

Keep

Mixed results, but some charming wines for early drinking: aromatic, lightly fruity, and with fines tannins.

Weather Conditions

Rare for Bordeaux, both the Right and Left Bank had the same story: the warmest April for half a century, high rainfall in May which got the vines off to an early and vigorous start, and very early flowering, one of the earliest on record. Then June, July and August ushered in a period of wet, mildew-loving weather that only constant work in the vineyards with state-of-the-art technology was able to deal with.
The autumn ripening was so necessary that most Right Bank châteaux resisted picking, grabbing every day of sun they could get. The Merlot ripened quickly but in most cases repaid waiting – at least until mid-September – while the Cabernet Franc came into its own in early October.

Best Appellations

Mildew aside, the real problem with the vintage was getting the grapes properly ripe. In Saint-Emilion, those grapes that achieved ripeness have provided an attractive red fruit expression, those that didn’t a vegetal streak. Where produces have gone for over-ripeness, the Merlot often has a dull, flat edge. The Cabernet Franc was generally the more successful, giving a welcome lift to the wines.
Pomerol had a reasonable level of success. The earlier ripening terroir clearly helped, and top estates on the warmer gravely soils of the plateau have produced wines with good colour, supple fruit, charm and early accessibility.
Overall, it was a vintage to aim for the fruit, and not worry too much about lack of weight. With few exceptions, these wines will be drunk before their 10th birthday.

Best Producers

Saint-Emilion: châteaux Le Dome, Ausone, Pavie, Angélus, Pavie-Macquin, Tertre Roteboeuf, Le Carré, Les Astéries. Pomerol: châteaux Lafleur, L’Eglise Clinet, La Conseillante, Petrus, Clos L’Eglise, Vieux Château Certan.

2006

Drink soon

Patchy quality, especially in Saint-Emilion where too many are pallid, dilute and dull. Pomerol’s the star (could warrant 4 stars) with many rich and balanced wines. For medium-term drinking.

Weather Conditions

Bud-break came late after a cold winter, but otherwise the vintage got off to a great start, with warm, sunny weather right up to the end of July. Pomerol in particular enjoyed optimum growing conditions. But expectations were dashed by a damp, dreary August putting the brakes on ripening. Later-ripening Cabernet Franc struggled to reach maturity almost everywhere.
Although sunshine returned in September, a rainy spell mid-month encouraged rot and disrupted picking schedules – careful and often selective harvesting was essential for success. Saint-Emilion came off worse – up to 150mm of rain fell in 14 days and the onset of rot was rapid. Growers were forced to choose between picking early ahead of full ripeness or running the risk of lower yields and fatigued flavours.

Best Appellations

A question of individual successes rather than blanket quality. Much depended on the work in the vineyards – and a deft hand in the cellar.
Pomerol stands out with some lovely aromatic, full-bodied wines balanced by zippy acidity and pronounced minerality. Top estates on the warmer gravels of the plateau were the most successful.
In Saint-Emilion, the challenge was greater and many wines struggle with green, harsh tannins and a lack of acidity. Where maturity was correct, there’s a bright purity to the fruit, freshness and firm tannins, though even the best wines lack the density of a great vintage. Cabernet Franc is variable with one or two notable successes (Ausone).

Best Producers

Pomerol chateaux: L’Eglise Clinet, Vieux Chateau Certan, Lafleur, Hosanna, Le Gay, L’Evangile, La Conseillante, Providence, Rouget, Petrus.
Saint-Emilion Grand Cru chateaux: Figeac, Ausone, Le Dome, La Mondotte, Pavie, Beausejour-Becot, Beausejour (Duffau-Lagarrosse), Pavie Macquin, Troplong Mondot, Angelus, Canon, La Gaffeliere, Monbousquet, Trotte Vieille, Fonplegade, Cos d’Estournel.

2005

Keep

A very good year, but by initial accounts, not as impressive as the Left Bank.

Weather Conditions

Flowering started on 23 May and continued with excellent summer weather conditions. With only 400mm of rain overall, the year was fairly dry. The harvest started about two weeks early this year at places like Petrus and Trotranoy and the quality is ‘impeccable’ according to proprietor Christian Moueix. They are the first Right Bank properties to start bringing the grapes in, as Moueix worried that the rain forecast for the harvest weeks would affect the crop.
‘I have seen nothing like this in many years,’ said Moueix.
For his part, Gerard Perse is reported to be very pleased with the quality of the grapes at his St-Emilion properties including Pavie, Pavie-Decesse and Monbousquet.
On September 9 and 10, heavy rain fell, drizzling on 12 September and tapered out. Then the sun shone from 15 to the end of the month. Many producers started picking after the rains and quality is reportedly not as impressive as the Left Bank.

2004

Keep

Deeply coloured wines with good structure

Weather Conditions

The weather returned to a more typical pattern after the excesses of 2003. The harvest was nearly a month later but more in keeping with the norm. A dry, sunny June assisted with a swift and uniform flowering. Temperatures for July, August and September were above the 30-year average while sunshine hours were below (but on a par or better than 2001 and 2002). Rainfall was consistent for the region and without surfeit except for the 71mm that fell in August putting initial doubts over the potential of the year. A relatively warm, dry sunny spell through September and early October compensated. The Merlot was mainly harvested in ideal conditions 1-8 October.
This is undoubtedly a plethoric vintage. The official figures will not be available until December but it seems likely that the original estimate of 7m hectolitres will be exceeded. Even the most ardent ‘green harvesters’ found their original projections surpassed by 10-20%. Juice to skin ratio was high making the ‘bleeding’ of tanks an obligatory technique during vinification (juice concentrators were also used to deal with dilution from the rain). With untended crop levels so high it’s noticeable the number of plots where grapes have just been left on the vine as producers ran out of tank space or reached their limited yield. Reacting to the crisis of overproduction in Bordeaux the CIVB (Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux) has recommended a ceiling of 50 hectolitres/hectare in 2004.

Best Appellations

Pomerol.

2003

Keep

Powerful, fleshy wines

Weather Conditions

On April 28, a hailstorm caused some serious damage in certain areas of the Saint-Emilion vineyard. Then on June 24 a mini-tornado mainly in the Entre-deux-Mers affected certain outlying areas of the Saint-Emilionais but fortunately damage was local and top vineyards were spared. The hot spring and sub-tropical summer heat with drought conditions accelerated the ripening process promoting historically early maturity.
Ideally sunny warm weather in September with some welcome light rain provided perfect conditions for picking. Therefore the grapes arrived in a remarkably healthy state and the first juice is deep-coloured and opulent.
As in other areas, yield has been well below average, even less than the short 2002 harvest which produced only an overall total 5.6 hectolitres. Production in the Pomerol area was particularly low.

2002

Keep

Fruity and supple wines with relatively low tannins

Weather Conditions

This year which saw a difficult flowering leading to coulure and millerandage (poor fruit set resulting in small and varied size grapes respectively), a cool, wet summer, and the constant threat of rot. But four weeks of warm, sunny weather in September turned what could have been a disastrous vintage into a possibly modest to decent year. “I’m happy and surprised as the sugar and acidity is correct, colour and aromas good and if the quantity of tannin is down at least it is ripe,” says Alain Moueix, manager of Saint-Emilion grand cru classé Château Fonroque and Château Mazeyres in Pomerol.
Apart from the rain storm on 20 September and isolated showers on 9-10 October the weather stayed fine during the harvest. Days were warm (18-23°C) and sunny and a north-easterly breeze kept the rot at bay and helped concentrate the grapes.
‘The level of extraction will have to be carefully handled as the tannins are not always fully ripe, otherwise the wines appear round, fruity and supple with perhaps a little lack of volume on the palate,’ says consultant oenologist Gilles Pauquet. As always the level of work in the vineyards was a crucial factor.

2001

Drink now

Top wines are full-bodied and elegant, but tendency towards over-concentration elsewhere.

Weather Conditions

After a mild, wet winter with an average temperature two degrees above normal, budding started early around 24 March. The excellent climatic conditions saw vintners begin their seasonal work early, and thanks to the ensuing warm, dry weather, flowering towards the end of May was rapid and uniform. Temperatures often topped 30°C. The grapes began to change colour in the first days of August and the continuing dry, warm weather helped the grapes develop gradually and steadily. However, ripening was slowed by abrupt changes in the temperature and freak storms. September and early October offered a true Indian summer, with dry, mild conditions, and vintners were able to wait for optimum maturity before picking in ideal conditions right up until mid October.

Best Appellations

Merlot did better here than in Médoc and Graves. Wines from the limestone hills and slopes in Saint-Emilion appear to have done better than those from clay or sand. Some producers in Pomerol tend towards over-concentration, but overall a classic Right Bank vintage for cellaring.

Best Producers

Saint-Emilion
Ausone stands out as the best in Bordeaux, with Cheval Blanc a tad behind. Angelus and the new-style Pavie are close rivals.
Pomerol
L’Evangile is outstanding, consistently taking top ratings from the critics. Nénin and Vieux-Château-Certan achieved fine results, with Beauregard just behind.

2000

Drink now

Good vineyard management after a wet winter means Saint-Emilion ranks with the great years. Pomerols are rich and full but perhaps missing the éclat of the 98s

Weather Conditions

This is clearly a very good to exceptional vintage but one that had to be worked for. The winter months were wet and sultry and mildew a constant threat in May and June. Good vineyard management was essential. Hot, dry weather in August and September helped turn the situation around. Producers were then permitted the luxury of harvesting at will at optimum levels of maturity with virtually no rain until 10 October.

Best Appellations

The earliest Merlots were picked 14 September with good alcohol potential (around 14°). The rest were harvested by 28 September in good conditions. The majority of the Cabernet Franc was picked during the week of 2 October. Most producers agree that it was exceptional, providing a key element to the top wines. The Saint-Emilions have depth, an attractive fruit character and the best (generally from clay-limestone soils) a powerful but fine tannic structure that will permit long ageing. They rank with the great years. The Pomerols are rich and full but perhaps missing the density and éclat of the excellent 1998s.

Best Producers

Saint-Emilion: Angélus, Ausone, Belair, Beau-Séjour Bécot, Cheval Blanc, Clos Fourtet, La Mondotte, Pavie, Pavie-Macquin, Rol Valentin, Le Tertre Roteboeuf.

Pomerol: Clos l’Eglise, l’Eglise-Clinet, l’Evangile, Lafleur, Pétrus, Trotanoy, Vieux Château Certan.

1999

Keep

A difficult vintage for growers: quality on the right bank depends on conscientious producers rather than appellation

Weather Conditions

The summer was warm and growth very vigorous, requiring much green-harvesting. On September 5 a devastating hailstorm hit some top properties in Saint-Emilion, including Angélus and Canon, yet despite dire predictions, the properties managed to salvage part of their crop and make very good wines. Much Pomerol was harvested before rain returned on 19 September, so quality was sound. Sugar levels were quite high, yet because of high yields and persistent rain, the wines were not nearly as concentrated as in 1998.

Best Appellations

This was a difficult vintage for growers which culminated in a hailstorm over 550 hectares of Saint-Emilion on 5 September and rain during the harvest. Quality varies throughout the Right Bank, the conscientious producers (who again put in the work in the vineyards) making some excellent wines. The general generic range, though, tends towards high acidities and lighter wines. Certain hail-hit properties that picked 10 days earlier than predicted have come out surprisingly well. In Pomerol a window of fine weather on 15 and 16 September enabled a percentage of producers to harvest the Merlot at optimum maturity. Overall it’s a question of producer rather than appellation.

Best Producers

St-Emilion: Angélus, Ausone, Canon-la-Gaffelière, Cheval Blanc, La Couspaude, Figeac, Grand Mayne, La Mondotte, Pavie, Pavie-Macquin, Le Tertre Roteboeuf.
Pomerol: Beauregard, Clos l’Eglise, La Conseillante, l’Eglise-Clinet, l’Evangile, Pétrus, Le Pin, Vieux Château Certan.

1998

Keep

A really top vintage in St-Emilion and Pomerol, perhaps the vintage of the decade

Weather Conditions

Flowering took place in normal conditions, and after a cool start to the summer, August was hot and dry. Early September was wet, but the grape skins were thick and there was no rot. On the right bank, much of the Merlot was ultra-ripe and was harvested from around 21 September, although there was a short pause when rain returned for a few days. By then most of the Merlot had been picked. Cabernets were picked in early October, and although less ripe than the Merlot, was still of excellent quality. This is certainly the best vintage since 1990.

Best Appellations

Conditions benefited the earlier ripening Merlot in 1998 producing a really top vintage in St-Emilion and Pomerol, perhaps the vintage of the decade. The majority of Merlot in Pomerol and a good percentage of that in St-Emilion was harvested in ideal conditions the week of 21-25 September. After a rainy weekend the rest was picked 28-30 September. The Cabernet was brought in 2-9 October. Pomerol has made some exceptional wines, to be ranked with the 1990s and 1982s and probably better than the more recent 2000s. St-Emilion is more classic in style with lots of tannin and the impression of freshness emphasised by low pH levels. There is definite ageing potential here.

Best Producers

St-Emilion: Angélus, Ausone, Beau-Séjour Bécot, Berliquet, Canon-la-Gaffelière, Cheval Blanc, Figeac, Grand Mayne, La Mondotte, Pavie-Macquin, Le Tertre Roteboeuf, Valandraud.

1997

Drink soon

Some attractive wines with modest acidity were made for medium-term drinking

Weather Conditions

Flowering in St Emilion was three weeks earlier than usual, which promised an early vintage, but the summer was marked by rain and humidity. The second half of August was exceptionally humid, but dry weather in September kept rot at bay. Despite early flowering, the harvest was prolonged, as maturation varied from parcel to parcel. There were great variations in quality, but some attractive wines with modest acidity were made for medium- term drinking, and in some cases the wines were better than in 1996.

Best Appellations

The irregular ripening cycle and heavy rain prior to the harvest made this a difficult year. Some of the earlier ripening Merlot was picked a week early (3-5 September) because of the threat of rot. Producers that could afford to wait picked around 17-22 September with greater ripeness and flavour. The Cabernet Franc was harvested during the first two weeks of October with mixed success. In general the wines are fruity, supple and forward for early drinking.

Best Producers

St-Emilion: Angélus, Ausone, Pavie-Macquin.

Pomerol: l’Eglise-Clinet, l’Evangile, Pétrus, Trotanoy.

1996

Keep

St-Emilion is balanced, austere with angular tannins and closed aromatics. The best Pomerols are rich and tannic.

Weather Conditions

After a cool start to the summer, the weather warmed up, but temperatures were never excessive, helping the grapes to retain their acidity. However, rain during August and towards the end of September marred the quality of some of the Merlot vines. There was some dilution and grey rot, and many grapes were picked in damp, muddy conditions. In general, acidities were higher than in 1995 and tannins harsher. But there are some good wines, but the vintage overall is patchy.

Best Appellations

The Right Bank in 1996 was the year of the conscientious vigneron. Heavy rain during August (87mm for the last 20 days) bloated grapes and kept acidity levels high but those that had correctly managed their vineyards were able to benefit from a run of 17 dry, sunny days in September. The Merlots were mostly picked on 23 and 24 September with good sugar levels. The Cabernet Franc was harvested in the two dry periods of 28-29 September and 3-4 October and was considered generally more successful than the Merlot – a key to the better wines of the vintage. In general the style of St-Emilion is austere with firm slightly angular tannins and closed aromatics. There is not the generosity of fruit of 1995 or 1998 but the wines are balanced and will age. The best Pomerols are quite rich and tannic.

Best Producers

St-Emilion: Angélus, Ausone, Beau-Séjour Bécot, Canon-la-Gaffelière, Cheval Blanc, La Mondotte, Pavie-Macquin, Le Tertre Roteboeuf.

Pomerol: Beauregard, L’Eglise-Clinet, l’Evangile, La Fleur-Pétrus, Gazin, Lafleur, Latour à Pomerol, Pétrus, Vieux Château Certan.

1995

Keep

Rich, full-bodied wines, although some of them lacked flair

Weather Conditions

Flowering was early, and despite the long hot summer there was no drought stress.

Best Appellations

There was much excellent Merlot and Cabernet Franc on the right bank, giving rich, full-bodied wines, although some of them lacked flair.

Best Producers

All the top estates, such as Pétrus and Cheval Blanc, made superb wines.

1994

Keep

The right bank ripened properly, and there were some impressive wines

Weather Conditions

A hot summer was followed in September by considerable downpours, which harmed prospects for a great vintage. Nonetheless much of the Merlot on the right bank ripened properly, and there were some impressive wines.

Best Appellations

Pomerol succeeded slightly better than St Emilion, but heavy selection was essential.

Best Producers

One of the stars of the vintage in St Emilion was Angélus.

1993

Keep

There was little rot but considerable dilution

Weather Conditions

Warm weather in May led to a rapid flowering. The summer was warm, and hot in August.. Very heavy rain in early September ended high hopes for a fine vintage.

Best Appellations

There was little rot but considerable dilution. The harvest was prolonged and difficult, but the grapes had thick skins after the hot summer, and some decent wines could be made, especially from Merlot, and overall the vintage was a distinct improvement on 1991 and 1992.

Best Producers

No producers recommended.

1992

drink soon

decent if light wines were made, which were best drunk young

Weather Conditions

Early flowering was followed by a very wet summer, and there was widespread rot. Cool September weather may have prevented further infestations of rot, but also prevented many vines from ripening properly.

Best Appellations

Where the Merlot did ripen properly, some decent if light wines were made, which were best drunk young. In general Pomerol was better than St Emilion.

Best Producers

Good wines were made at Pétrus and Trotanoy.

1991

Drink soon

Quality is mediocre

Weather Conditions

The severe April frost also slashed the crop on the right bank, although a few sheltered vineyards such as Ausone and Magdelaine were touched more lightly. Overall, the yields in St Emilion and Pomerol were among the lowest in the Bordeaux region, at around 20 percent of the usual crop. The problems were compounded when heavy rain fell in St Emilion for one week before the harvest, reducing the crop further.

Best Appellations

Quality is mediocre, and many leading estates declassified their entire crop.

Best Producers

No producers recommended.

1990

Keep

Merlot was of exceptional quality, with very high sugar levels and ample tannin

Weather Conditions

The winter was very mild, but spring cooler, followed by a hot May, which provoked early flowering. The summer was hot and dry, and maturation was assisted by a little light rain in early September.

Best Appellations

Merlot was of exceptional quality, with very high sugar levels and ample tannin, giving excellent wines throughout the region.

Best Producers

Cheval Blanc was among the outstanding successes of the year.

1989

Keep

Rich, fruity, full-bodied wines

Weather Conditions

Due to the above-average temperatures that were the norm during the spring of 1989, flowering took place earlier than usual under ideal conditions, leading to the production of a larger than average crop. June, July and August witnessed temperatures higher than any since the 1940s. The occasional rainfall helped to swell the crop, which otherwise would have shrivelled in the heat. The earliest harvest for nearly a century.
Whites (dry): Temperatures were so high that harvesting took place in late August/early September to avoid excessive ripening of the grapes.
Whites (sweet): The exceptional summer promoted the development of high levels of sugar, and September’s morning mists provided the ideal conditions for the growth of botrytis. An exceptional vintage.

Best Appellations

Both Pomerol and St Emilion prduced many rich, fruity, full-bodied wines. Alcohol levels in Pomerol tend to be on the high side.

Best Producers

(Pomerol) Bon Pasteur, Clinet, La Conseillante, La Fleur-Petrus, Le Gay, Petrus, Trotanoy. (St Emilion) Angelus, Ausone, Cheval Blanc, La Gaffeliere, Grand Mayne, Pavie-Macquin, Soutard, Trottevieille.

1988

Drink soon

Concentrated and opulent

Weather Conditions

An exceptionally damp winter and spring, although there were no frosts during the latter. These conditions were prolonged right through June, and flowering took place under less than ideal conditions. Temperatures throughout summer were close to the average, but there was less rainfall than usual. Harvesting conditions were fine, but the uneven ripening of the different grape varieties caused problems for many of the growers.
Whites (sweet): The hot summer ensured a high sugar content for the grapes, and October’s humidity encouraged the development of Noble Rot.

Best Appellations

An excellent year for rich, concentrated St Emilion and opulent Pomerol.

Best Producers

(St Emilion) Some Cabernet Franc lacked concentration. The finest wines come from Angelus, Ausone, Canon-la-Gaffeliere, Clos des Jacobins, Tertre-Roteboeuf, Troplong-Mondot.

1987

Drink now

The rains set in towards the end of the month, affecting the harvest

Weather Conditions

A particularly long, cold winter that dragged on well into spring, adversely affecting the flowering. July and August were both cool and there was little sunshine. September was very hot, but the rains set in towards the end of the month, affecting the harvest.
Whites (dry): The weather conditions resulted in a marginally more successful white vintage, but this is still not an exceptional year.

Best Appellations

An under-rated vintage in which Merlot was more successful than Cabernet. Pomerol produced a number of ripe, juicy wines, most of which should have been drunk by now.

Best Producers

(Pomerol) Certan de May, Clinet, La Conseillante, l’Evangile, La Fleur de Gay, Petrus, Le Pin. (St Emilion) Ausone, Cheval Blanc, Clos des Jacobins, Grand-Mayne, Trottevieille.

1986

Drink soon

The unwelcome storm of September 23rd caused problems of dilution

Weather Conditions

Winter was harsh, although the frosts were not as sharp as the previous year. Growth was slowed by a cool, damp spring, but the vegetation caught up as a result of the fine weather in late spring/early summer. Flowering took place in exemplary conditions, and conditions continued hot and dry until the middle of September, when heavy rains fell, particularly on the 23rd, when some 10cm of Precipitation fell during the course of one day. Temperatures picked up for the October harvest.
Whites (sweet): The damp conditions at the end of September were ideal for the formation of botrytis.

Best Appellations

The unwelcome storm of September 23rd caused problems of dilution. Those properties which delayed picking end up making the most concentrated and flavoursome wines.

Best Producers

(Pomerol) Lafleur, Le Pin and Vieux-Chateau-Certan waited to pick , thereby producing more intense, complex wines. (St Emilion) l’Arrosee, Canon, Cheval Blanc, Figeac, Pavie.

1985

Drink soon

This was a vintage for enjoying rather than keeping

Weather Conditions

The vines suffered heavy frost damage in winter, and spring was stormy and wet. May and early June saw violent hailstorms, but this was followed by a period of good weather during the crucial flowering period. July saw hot temperatures alternate with periods of rainfall, while August was somewhat cooler and drier. September was one of the hottest and driest on record, promoting good ripening, and late September onwards through October saw good conditions for the harvest.
Whites (sweet): The very weather conditions that promoted a fine vintage of red wines had a deleterious effect on the Sauternes crop, the lack of rain, in particular, preventing the development of botrytis.

Best Appellations

This was a vintage for enjoying rather than keeping. The Merlot crop came in in excellent condition but a number of properties, particularly in St Emilion, picked Cabernet too soon.

Best Producers

(Pomerol) Certan de May, La Conseillante, l’Eglise Clinet, l’Evangile and Petrus all produced seductive wines of great charm. (St Emilion) Canon, Cheval Blanc, Tertre-Roteboeuf.

1984

Drink now

Rot was a major problem

Weather Conditions

Unpredictable weather in 1984 resulted in a poor crop. This is especially true of the Merlot, and this had a profound impact on the wines produced in Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. Early spring conditions were not particularly notable, but April was exceptionally warm, which promoted the growth of the vines, but this development was halted as a result of a cold and very wet May. A hot June saw an over-enhanced flowering. July and August were sunny and hot, but the crucial ripening period at the end of summer was ruined by heavy rainfall. A hurricane on the 5th of October, towards the end of the harvest period, did not help matters.

Best Appellations

An extremely poor Right Bank vintage, with many of the top properties choosing to declassify their crop. Rot was a major problem.

Best Producers

Only Petrus, Trotanoy (Pomerol) and Figeac (St Emilion) produced any wines of even remote interest.

1983

Drink soon

Inconsistent vintage where the hillside vineyards of St Emilion performed best

Weather Conditions

An unexceptional winter was succeeded by a cool, damp spring. The flowering had a good start in a warmish early June, but cool weather followed. The temperatures picked up in early July and carried on through August but, even though the weather was particularly hot, a good deal of rain fell as well. Drier conditions took over in the latter half of August, but temperatures dropped too. A fine September led into a good harvest in early October.
Whites (sweet): The fine warm conditions of late summer led to the development of a crop of particularly fine botrytis-affected grapes.

Best Appellations

Excessive heat and humidity caused problems of over-ripening and rot. A good, but inconsistent vintage where the hillside vineyards of St Emilion performed best.

Best Producers

(Pomerol) Certan de May, l’Evangile, Lafleur, Petrus. (St Emilion) l’Arrosee, Ausone, Belair, Clos Fourtet and Pavie.

1982

Drink soon

A great year for both Pomerol and St.Emilion

Weather Conditions

Spring was mild and dry, with little frost. An early flowering took place under perfect conditions. The start of summer saw a good deal of fine, sunny weather. Light rain fell towards the end of July and continued on, in bursts, throughout a coolish August. Early September, in contrast, was exceptionally hot and dry, promoting a ripening that was so fast that the start of the harvest was one of the earliest in many years. The last week or so of September saw temperatures fall somewhat for the Cabernet Sauvignon harvest in the Medoc.
Whites (sweet): The hot summer resulted in a crop with a very high sugar content, and the change in late September promoted the growth of Noble Rot. Unfortunately, however, high levels of rainfall in October washed away the botrytis and the disappointing harvest took place in terrible weather.

Best Appellations

A great year for both Pomerol, and to a slightly lesser extent, St Emilion as well. Most Pomerols have kept their colour extremely well, and remain rich and satisfying.

Best Producers

(Pomerol) Certan de May, La Conseillante, L’Evangile, La Fleur, Petrus, and Trotanoy. (St Emilion) Ausone, Canon, Cheval Blanc, Figeac, Magdelaine, and Pavie.

1981

Drink soon

Well-balanced, elegant vintage, now fully mature

Weather Conditions

The weather conditions in 1981 resulted in the production of rather lean wines. Spring was unremarkable, but the flowering was successful, despite a lack of sunshine. Early summer was, again, rather cold and wet, although conditions improved in August, which was dry and sunny, and continued through until late September, when heavy rains fell, bringing the harvest to a temporary halt.
Whites (sweet): The warm conditions from August onwards pushed sugar levels up, and the botrytis was well developed.

Best Appellations

Well-balanced, elegant vintage, now fully mature. Pomerol achieved generally better results than St Emilion although both produced a number of full-bodied, luscious wines.

Best Producers

(Pomerol) Certan de May, La Conseillante, Petrus, Vieux-Chateau-Certan stood out. (St Emilion) Cheval Blanc.

1980

Drink now

Little sunshine, and ripening was delayed few wines of note

Weather Conditions

A cool spring followed an unexceptional winter, and the conditions did not promote a good flowering. The weather did not improve much as spring turned to summer, and both June and July were damp and lacking in sunshine. Temperatures picked up in August and it remained warm throughout September. However, there was little sunshine, and ripening was delayed. Rain fell during early October, but conditions improved somewhat for the late harvest. A mediocre vintage throughout Bordeaux with few, if any, wines of note. All should have been drunk up by now.

Best Producers

Certan de May, Petrus, and Cheval Blanc produced wines better than average.

1979

Drink soon

Lovely rich textured wines now at their peak

Weather Conditions

The extremely wet conditions of winter lasted well into spring, although conditions improved in time for a successful flowering. Little rain fell during July and August, and temperatures were low. September fared little better. The result was an abundant crop of poorly ripened grapes.

Best Appellations

Here the picture is much better than in Medoc. With the Merlot picked ripe and some good Cabernet Franc, the wines have developed the lusciousness only usually found elsewhere in Graves. These are lovely rich textured wines now at their peak. Pomerol- the wines here are a shade more structured their St.Emilion, where the wines seem more feminine and have juicier fruit.

Best Producers

Pomerol – a majestic Petrus while excellent wines are also to be found at Certan de May, La Conseillante, L’Eglise-Clinet, L’Evangile, La Fleur-Petrus, La Grave, La Fleur, Latour a Pomerol, Petit Village Trotanoy and Vieux Chateau Certan. St.Emilion – Cheval Blanc, while not as good as the 78 is still a very attractive wine, Figeac is exceptionally good now. Others worth investigating still are Belair, Canon, Beau-Sejour-Becot, Beau-Sejour-Duffau-Lagarrosse, Clos Fourtet, Croque-Michotte, La Dominique, Larmande, Magdelaine, Pavie and La Tour du Pin-Figeac (Moueix).

1978

Drink soon

Good weather produced some classic wines

Weather Conditions

The weather conditions in spring and summer – damp and dreary – did not augur well for the vintage. However, things picked up in mid-August, which saw the start of fine, sunny weather that prevailed throughout the harvest, which started late.

Best Appellations

There was a feeling at the time that they lagged behind the Medoc and that 79 was better, but the best have proved to be classics which have stood the test of time. Pomerol perhaps has the edge over St.Emilion.

Best Producers

Pomerol – a superb Petrus and excellent wine from Trotanoy, La Conseillante, L’Evangile and Gazin. St-Emilion – Cheval Blanc and Figeac echoed the successes of their Pomerol neighbours, Ausone, Magdeleine and Chateau Troplong-Mondot did well.

1977

drink now

The serious frost damage at the end of march reduced yields

Weather Conditions

In contrast to the previous year, 1977 began with heavy frosts in spring. The late flowering was not helped by a cold, damp June, which was followed by an unusually high level of rainfall in July. The beginning of August saw a period of warm, dry weather, but the rains and cool conditions returned during the latter half of the month.
Reds: The driest September on record since 1851, and the hot conditions continued throughout the harvest, which began during the first week of October.

Best Appellations

The serious frost damage at the end of march reduced yields.

Best Producers

No producers recommended.

1976

Drink soon

Drought affected Bordeaux, but produced some wines full of fruit and wholeness

Weather Conditions

The drought that affected much of Western Europe throughout spring and summer made its impact felt in Bordeaux. The hot, dry weather continued until storms began in mid-September, interrupting the harvest, which had started early.

Best Appellations

A vintage which really underlined the gap between top producers and the rest, even more so than today. The top St. Emilion were the best in all Bordeaux.

Best Producers

Best producers: St Emilion: Ausone is a really beautifully-balanced, elegant yet compact, long-term developer, and marked the beginning of a new era under Pascal Delbeck. Cheval Blanc is now at it glorious best, still luscious and full of fruit and wholeness. Pomerol: Petrus should still be excellent and La Conseillante fully developed and at its best, with Trotanoy the best after Petrus.

1975

Drink now

Pomerols have gone dry, and even St Emilions are not living up to initial promise

Weather Conditions

After a rough three years, the weather settled into a more predictable pattern. Winter was mild and rainy, but spring started fine, although the warm weather was punctuated by a few cold spells and occasional frosts. The summer months were hot and dry, so the showers that fell in September were particularly appreciated. The harvest, which began during the last week in September, was mainly sunny, although there were a few hailstorms.

Best Appellations

Pomerol and St.Emilion have proven very variable in their evolution. Some Pomerols have gone dry like the Medocs, and even St. Emilions which looked very promising when 10 years old, now seem to have lost their fruit.

Best Producers

Pomerol: Petrus and Trotenoy are thin but preserved and most approachable. St.Emilion: Figeac is worth looking at.

1974

Drink now

Hot summer but very wet during harvesting

Weather Conditions

Conditions in spring promoted a healthy flowering. Summer was hot and dry,but September saw the start of intermittent periods of heavy rainfall. The rainy, cold weather continued throughout the harvest period, which started early in October.

Best Appellations

No appellation recommended.

Best Producers

No producers recommended.

1973

Drink now

When young these were delicious wines

Weather Conditions

The flowering took place in fine spring weather, but there was no rain at all until the middle of July, when heavy rain began to fall. These conditions continued until the late harvest. When young these were delicious wines, probably more consistent than the Medocs but inclined to be a touch overblown.

Best Producers

Saint-Emilion: Cheval Blanc was always one of the best wines of the vintage, not far behind the delicious 71, but bottles will be valuable now. Figeac is not far behind.
Pomerol: The best was Trotanoy, which is still worth investigating.

1972

Drink now

Lack of ripeness and high acidity

Weather Conditions

Unusual conditions led to one of the longest-ever growing seasons. Winter was severe, with rain and snow still falling in February. Although conditions had improved by the end of March, April saw the return of cold, wet weather. Temperatures did not rise much in summer, but nor did it rain much. There was little sunshine until September, when a belated ripening got underway. It continued fine until the late harvest, which began well into October.

Best Appellations

No appellation escaped the lack of ripeness and high acidity of this vintage. When bottles occasionally come to light the colour is often good, but the wines are dry and one-dimensional.

Best Producers

No producers recommended.

1971

Drink now

Opulence and richness

Weather Conditions

The buds burst early due to the mild spring weather, but the crop was reduced by a cold, damp June. A hot July followed, but August saw unsettled conditions, with storms and some hail in the middle of the month. This was corrected a sunny September. Picking began early, on the 16th.
Red wines: The weather resulted in concentrated, ripe fruit with good acidity.

Best Appellations

The strike rate here was significantly higher than in Medoc. The wines have opulence and richness which has produced some superb mature wines.

Best Producers

Saint-Emilion: There is a great Cheval Blanc, opulent and aromatic. Other successes include La Dominique, Figeac and Magdeleine. Pomerol was even better, with Petrus probably the wine of the vintage, a complete contrast of styles to 1970, still extremely exotic and fine.
Then came La Conseillante, La Croix, L’Evangile, La Fleur Petrus, Rouget, Trotanoy and Vieux Chateau Certan – but some bottles may be over the top now.

1970

drink soon

Some outstanding wines in both appellations

Weather Conditions

April and May were cool and wet, but the vines were not damaged. The weather improved towards the end of May, and the trend continued through June and into July. August saw a week or so of cool weather, but temperatures picked up again in September, carrying on into October.

Best Appellations

These show the same sort of highs and lows that characterise this vintage, with some outstanding wines in both appellations.

Best Producers

Pomerol: Petrus must beat Palmer as the outstanding wine. It has great power and richness, with extraordinary ripe concentration. La Conseillante has lovely chocolatey richness; La Fleur Petrus is much more forward but delightful.

Saint-Emilion: A lovely Cheval Blanc if not quite in the Petrus class. Magdelaine is fine if still compact and less fleshy. But many wines lack the attractions of the 71s, and are more dry and austere.

1969

Drink now

The reds proved to be a great disappointment, dry, short and acid.

Weather Conditions

An unexceptional winter was followed by bad spring weather. June continued cold, but July and August saw a rise in temperatures and reasonable amounts of sunshine. Rain fell throughout the first fortnight of September, but warm, sunny weather afterwards continued until the harvest – of a very small crop – in early October.

Best Appellations

The reds proved to be a great disappointment, dry, short and acid.

Best Producers

No producers recommended.

1968

drink now

One of the worst vintages of the century, exacerbated by the weather.

Weather Conditions

One of the worst vintages of the century, exacerbated by the weather. A cold winter and spring saw flowering take place under conditions that were far from ideal. There was little sun throughout summer, and August was the coldest and wettest for nearly 20 years. The weather did not help to promote adequate ripening, and the abundant, poor-quality crop was harvested in early October.

Best Appellations

This was the last vintage to be seriously affected by rot, but lessons had been learnt and some selection was attempted, so this is a vintage which should have been enjoyed in the initial 10 years of its life. Only a few survivors today, and this is a question of crus rather than appellations.

Best Producers

No producers recommended.

1967

Drink now

Petrus was the wine of the vintage and is still magnificent.

Weather Conditions

Flowering took place slightly behind schedule after a relatively mild winter. The weather warmed up by summer, and July and August were both hot and dry. The pattern was reversed in the first three weeks of September, with cold, damp conditions, although the end of the month saw a return to sunshine. The harvest, which started in October, was plagued by intermittent rain.

Best Appellations

Pomerol not only produced the consistently best wines, but they have also lasted well. St Emilion: the best wines tend to come from the cotes and plateau.

Best Producers

Pomerol: Petrus was the wine of the vintage and is still magnificent. Exceptional wines were also made at Trotenoy and Vieux-Chateau-Certan. St Emilion: Cheval Blanc, although not in the Petrus class, has great charm and style and has lasted well. The Magdelaine was the pick of the cotes and plateau wines.

1966

drink soon

The harvest started in perfect conditions. Wines were consistent and fine.

Weather Conditions

The mild conditions of winter and early spring were followed by fine weather in late spring, producing a good flowering. Most of summer was cool and dry, although July saw some rains. August was mostly dry, but the sun failed to shine. This was compensated for by a return to hot, sunny weather in September. Despite intermittent rain just before the harvest, the crop survived intact, with no rot. Early October saw the start of the harvest take place in perfect conditions. Red wines did far better under the prevailing conditions that whites.

Best Appellations

St Emilion: while not as good as ’64, was outstandingly consistent and fine. In Pomerol the picture is very similar to St Emilion.

Best Producers

St Emilion: Cheval Blanc is still a beautiful wine, if less concentrated and rich than ’64. Then Figeac, Belair, Canon and La Gaffeliere all produced fine, long-lived wines. Pomerol: Petrus is outstanding, then La Conseillante, L’Evangile, Le Gay, La Pointe, Trotanoy and Vieux-Chateau-Certan all produced fine, long-lived wines.

1965

Drink now

A disastrous year, for which the blame can be fully laid on the weather. (Cold conditions and heavy rains)

Weather Conditions

A disastrous year, for which the blame can be fully laid on the weather. The cold winter conditions were prolonged throughout much of spring, and summer was washed out with heavy rains. The final straw was a wet September, which resulted in rot and irregular ripening. What few grapes there were were harvested in October.

Best Appellations

Rain during the harvest led growers to pick unripe grapes, so less rot than ’63, but green, acid wines. Nothing to recommend.

Best Producers

No producers recommended.

1964

Drink now

Summer was hot and dry. Late harvest was effected by heavy rains.

Weather Conditions

A mild, wet winter led into a warm spring. Summer continued hot and dry, resulting in the development of a well-ripened crop by mid-September.

Best Appellations

The harvest started well, but the latter part of it was badly affected by the heavy rains.

Best Producers

St Emilion: at Cheval Blanc this was a great vintage, the best since the ’56 frost. La Gaffeliere, Figeac and Magdelaine are all outstanding. The very good wines are numerous. Pomerol: Petrus is a great wine, possibly the wine of the vintage, while L’Evangile, Vieux-Chateau-Certan and La Conseillante were also outstanding.

1963

Drink now

Rot spread across the region as rain and warm conditions affected ripe grapes.

Weather Conditions

Winter was harsh, but there was little frost damage to the crop in spring. The weather did little to promote successful flowering, and continued cold and damp right through to September, resulting in rot and delayed ripening. Reds: finally, the sun began to shine at the start of the late harvest, 10th October.

Best Appellations

Rot spread across the region as rain and warm conditions affected ripe grapes.This damaged the pigmentation of the skins – resulting in a tell-tale orange colour in the wines. No area escaped.

Best Producers

No producers recommended.

1962

Drink soon

Good weather which created fruity attractive wines of medium weight.

Weather Conditions

Conditions were cold and rainy from winter onwards right through to the end of May. June’s good weather developed into an extremely hot summer, although a reasonable degree of rainfall prevented drought from developing. Reds: good weather continued throughout the late harvest, which began on the 9th of October.

Best Appellations

St-Emilion and Pomerol: both did well with fruity attractive wines of medium weight.

Best Producers

St-Emilion: exceptionally Ausone was better than Cheval Blanc. Magdelaine, Belair and Canon matured very attractively.

1961

Drink soon

Cold, rain, drought and a sunny September effectively ‘pruned’ the crop giving it harmony and depths of flavour.

Weather Conditions

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.

Best Appellations

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.

Best Producers

Cheval Blanc, Figeac and Magdeleine are among the best. Pomerol: Petrus, Trotanoy, La Fleur-Petrus, and Beauregard.