Bordeaux Vintages of the ‘70s


1970: A very fine vintage indeed. Many wines developed early with rich refined fruit flavours perfectly balanced with firm but not harsh tannins. They continued to develop complexity over many years. The lesser wines are now beginning to fade; the great growths are still in full flight. Delightful to drink, with rich chocolate aromas and fresh raspberry flavours adding complexity to the traditional cedar shavings and brambleberry Bordeaux character. Many memories linger still of classic, stylish, wonderful wines.

1971: Good but not great, these wines were initially a bit hard, lacking the generosity that full ripeness imparts. But they were pleasant and quite well balanced, showing typical Bordeaux character. Lesser chateaux were fully developed within their first decade, the best lasted well through their second.

1972: Hard, green, unripe – in short, not very nice. The best wines were pleasant if tart in their youth; very few developed at all beyond their first decade. Most were unpleasant early and worse later on. Some chateaux issued no wine of this vintage, others recalled it! As the market collapsed, many became available at excellent low prices, giving us the opportunity to taste wines from chateaux we can rarely afford, although most of the great names were not great wines.

1973: Delicious in their youth, these easy-drinking, pleasant fruity wines had no weight, depth or structure. After a dozen years, all but the best were fading, becoming pale and scented with notes of faded roses. The very best lasted well through their second decade, but all are now in decline.

1974: While not as bad as the ‘72s, this was another year of hard, acidic, ungenerous wines. Most showed typical flavours of berries and cedar, but lacked fruit and gave little inclination to soften or evolve during their first decade. Some decent examples came my way, but few were at all memorable.

1975: A year that continues to confound the pundits. Massive fruit was not so much supported as opposed by even more massive tannins. As the fruit has matured, the tannins have not softened, and many wines remained hard and unyielding after two decades and more. Yet the fruit and the classic flavours are there beneath it all, and some truly great wines are coming through in their maturity.

1976: Good but not great wines; most were pleasant and fruit forward in their youth, with harmonious balance, lacking great weight. But few developed much interest or complexity in their maturity. Simple wines, giving much pleasure at the table, lasting well through their second decade.

1977: Another hard year, with acidic wines lacking full generous fruit. But advancements in wine making technology enabled producers to achieve results significantly better than ’72 or ’74. Drinkable as decent table wines In their youth, none but the very finest survived their second decade.

1978: A very fine year indeed. Classic Bordeaux with good structure, ripe fruit, perfect balance, lacking only massive weight and concentration to qualify as a truly great vintage. The ‘78s have provided delightful tasting and drinking from their youth through their continuing maturity; the greatest are still holding well near their peak of perfection.

1979: An initially underappreciated year by most pundits, I have always found these wines delightful – full of rich, ripe, harmonious fruit. They lack the tannic structure to give them a long life or to achieve greatness, but were accessible early and provided more than two decades of fine drinking.


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