1960s Archive

A Decade of Vintages: 1950-1960

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Rhine and Moselle

1960. Somewhat uneven, but on the whole quite good. A large crop, rather light wines, not many of them of really top quality. The “smaller” and “middle” wines should be comparatively inexpensive and good values. 14/20.

1959. An exceedingly great year, certainly unsurpassed since the last war and in many ways comparable to 1921. But wine-making methods in Germany have changed greatly in the last four decades; the wines are now bottled much earlier than they were, in order to conserve their freshness and fruit. As a result, the 1959s will prove shorter lived, but most of them, on the other hand, are now ready to drink, and all of them will be before 1961 is out. Their average quality is amazingly high (though some of the commoner and cheaper ones are flat and dull, being too low in acid); the estate bottlings, from the driest to the sweetest, have great ripeness and fruit—they are as full-bodied as the '49s and '53s. but with more distinction. As always, there are some variations in quality from one district or township to another: the '59 Saar wines (Ockfeners, Wiltingers, Scharzhofbergers) are magnificent, as are those of the Ruwer, and, on the Moselle, Piesport, Berncastel, and Graach surpassed themselves. Most of the Rheingau wines, too, are extraordinary, especially those of Schloss Vollrads, Rauenthal, and Johannisberg. Remarkable Beeren- and Trockenheerenauslesen were produced, notably in the Pfalz. Truly, on the whole, a “Vintage of the Century.” 20/20.

1958. An excellent year. Light and charming wines, dry, fresh, and flowery, perhaps even more agreeable, for everyday use, than the more imposing and formidable '59s. Not too expensive, they are excellent values, and deserve 16/20.

1957. An uneven year. A few good wines, but many that are hard, lacking in fruit, and unattractive. 12/20.

1956. Extremely poor.

1955. A very good year, especially on the Moselle. where the wines are light, delicate, and astonishingly low in alcohol, often under nine per cent. They make up in fragrance what they lack in authority. Now 14/20.

1954. One of the worst on record.

1953. A very great year, but alt save a few of the biggest wines—the Auslesen, etc.—are now past their prime. Rates between 14/20 and 18/20 today.

1952. A very good year, but on the whole now too old. Perhaps 13/20 today.

1951. Generally poor. Now off the market.

1950. A good year. Light, pleasant wines. Most of them now too old. Rhines worth only 1½0, Moselles less.

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