Many people attach great importance to the vintage of a wine, and with good reason. The year that a wine was made in can actually have an enormous effect on its quality. Beyond the work of the winemakers themselves, the conditions during any particular year can change the quality of the grape.
That’s why certain vintages have gained reputations as being among the best, with many wine collectors seeking out wines from those years because of the added quality that the year itself added to the drink. For example, many look to 1982 as being one of the best vintages in recent years, especially for French wines. The warm conditions made the year perfect for many types of grapes, leading to a batch of wines that still stand today as some of the best around.
What we’re going to do with this article is take a look at some of the best wines to emerge over the course of the last century, with the vintages attached so you know exactly what to look for.
Mouton Rothschild (1947)
The oldest wine on our list is one that many claim has still not reached its peak over 70 years later. The 1947 vintage of Mouton Rothschild is known as the “immortal” wine by some, mainly because of its startling ageing potential that outstrips the vast majority of other wines.
Today, the earliest drinkers of the wine, if you can call drinking a wine 70 years after it was made “early” have confirmed the great quality that the bottle contains.
A slightly tannic wine, the 1947 Mouton Rothschild has achieved perfect scores from wine critics all over the world for its sheer quality, making it one of the biggest collector’s items in the wine industry. In fact, there are many who still have their bottles and are ageing them further, waiting for that perfect date to finally pop the cork and enjoy a taste of one of the most stunning vintages ever made.
We spoke earlier about the almost legendary status that the year 1982 has developed among wine aficionados, and there are any number of wines that we could recommend from this remarkable year. However, of all of them we have to say to a 1982 Bordeaux leads the pack.
There are, of course, many Bordeaux producers. However, that just means that you are spoilt for choice when choosing a 1982 vintage, as all of them benefitted from the remarkably warm French summer of 1982. In fact, many point to this year as being the best since 1947, with some going so far as to claim that it is actually the best of the entire century.
The 1982 Bordeaux also makes our list because of its impact, especially in the United States. It was this vintage that sparked something of a Bordeaux revolution in the States, making Bordeaux one of the most popular red wines in the process. Even today, Bordeaux holds that lofty status in the US, and you can put that down to the sheer quality of the 1982 Bordeaux vintage.
Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino (1955)
We going a little further back in time now for a next one, which we believe is one of the standout Italian vintages of recent years. It appears that 1955 was the perfect year for Biondi Santi, which is a winemaker that rivals the Antinori family in terms of sheer popularity and the fame it holds around the world.
The 1955 Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino was a truly special wine. Finding its roots in Tuscany, the wine has a traditional edge that some modern wines from the region have lost. Biondi Santi drew upon centuries of winemaking experience and knowledge to make this beautiful wine, but they were helped along by the perfect weather conditions that enabled them to craft a product of such refined quality.
In fact, many go so far as to point to the 1955 Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino as the best example of the wine ever produced. While that is arguable, it certainly stands ably alongside the vintages that followed it, perhaps marking it out as the peak of Biondi Santi’s powers. Another great choice for collectors, the 1955 Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino is also remarkable for the fact that Biondi Santi still has several bottles in their cellar, perhaps as mementos of a great year or just waiting for that one eager collector.
Vogue Musigny Vieilles Vignes (1999)
The most recent wine on our list, the 1999 vintage of Vogue Musigny Vieilles Vignes may be a controversial choice for those who prefer some of the more famous winemaking years, but there is no denying the fact that this is a wine of enormous quality.
1999 was a superb year for Burgundy producers, with many companies producing standout vintages as a result of the quality crops they grew. That made it slightly difficult to choose a favourite, but we do believe the Vogue Musigny Vieilles Vignes has something a little bit special that others may not.
As an added advantage, the 1999 Vogue Musigny Vieilles Vignes is the most affordable wine on our list of great vintages, which makes it a perfect starting point for budding collectors who want to make their first purchase a great one. Even so, this is still a startling wine that we believe deserves a place in practically any wine cellar.
The Final Word
It’s amazing just how much of an effect the conditions have on different vintages of wine. A wine that may have been weak one year can come roaring back to the peaks of the industry if the weather allows.
Of course, all great vintages need similarly brilliant winemakers to take advantage of them. Each of the wines we’ve highlighted here come from some of the leading names in the industry, but you can take the information in this article and use it to find other great wines as well. Just look at the year and check the producer. You can’t go too far wrong with a little research.