1960s Archive

A Decade of Vintages: 1952-1962

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1963. Probable quality (evaluation as of November 15): Fair to good. The cheaper wines, very light, arc for immediate consumption and will not last; some, from superior vineyards, arc sound and interesting. 12/20 to 14/20.

1962. Following the pattern of red Burgundy, has improved beyond anyone's expectations and is very close in quality to 1961 today. Actually, the cheaper grades (Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages) now cost more in bulk than the equivalent ’61s. but this is due to the Frenchman's preference for young Beaujolais and the dismal outlook for 1963, not to anything else. The wines, however, are excellent and consistently so, perhaps a shade lighter than the ’61s and unlikely to improve as much in bottle, but if we never get worse we can hardly complain. 18/20.

1961. On the whole the best vintage since World War II, incomparably superior to ’59, ’57, and other recent favorites. The finer wines, such as Fleurie, Droit illy, Juliénas, etc, are of a class rarely equaled and are maturing magnificently in bottle. Of course, they should all be happily consumed by the end of 1965, or thereabouts, if you want them at their best. 19/20.

1960. A disaster. The few wines that were bottled should never have been shipped. 1959. A very good year. The wines, if honestly vintaged, are too old.


1963. Probable quality (evaluation as of November 15): Fair to great. Like 1962, an extraordinarily copious year, so much so that many lesser wines are too light and thin. To everyone's surprise, some truly great wines as well. 13/20 to 17/20.

1962. A truly sensational year. Everywhere except in Pouilly-Fuissé there was not only high quality but great quantity as well, and all sorts of venerable production records were broken in Chablis. Unless 1963 proves a total disaster, prices should come down. In quality, the ’62s are finer, lighter, racier, and with more bouquet than even the admirable ’61s; they will mature very quickly and may not last. All except the really big ones will be shipped in 1964; most of them will be ready at once and they are utterly delightful. 18/20.

1961. A very great vintage, certainly better than any of its predecessors since 1952. Typical, well-balanced, admirable white Burgundies in the great tradition—fine, not too heavy, grande classe, nearly the first in ten years that I would recommend for laying down. The good ones will far outlast the ’62s. 19/20.

1960. This, in white Burgundy, could be called an “expert's year”—those who know how to taste and select on their own can find astonishing bargains, wines far superior to the vaunted ’59s yet much less expensive. The good estate bottlings are among the best white wine values on the market today. 15/20.

1959. Overrated from the beginning and obviously short-lived, these wines are beginning to disappoint even their early partisans. Big. and impressive at the Stan, they were never well balanced, never had much breed, arc beginning to go. 13/20,

1958. Admirable wines which rarely received their just due of praise. Clean, light, racy, distingués they are still at their peak but no longer, alas, available. 17/20.

1957. Hard, ungracious, even a little green at the outset. the ’57s of top origin have matured at last, are now bouquetés, still youthful, perfect. 16/20.

1956. Poor to start with. Gone.

1955. Never very great, now growing old. A few still good, Charitably, 14/20.

While Burgundy is not a wine that gains with age. A fair number of ’52s, some ’50s, and rare ’47s are still in sound condition.


1963. Probable quality (evaluation as of November 15): Fair to good, as almost always, in vins roses. Red wines poor, like ’56 and ’54. 10/20 to 14/20.

1962. A very good year. The rosés (such as Tavel, Linc, etc.) are already in bottle, and much superior to the ’61s, being lighter, finer, and lower in alcohol: the same thing holds true of the whites. The red wines arc fruity and round and most agreeable; they will mature quickly and some of them should be on the market in1964. 16/20.

1961. In red wine (Châteauneuf-du-Pape, for example) an exceedingly great vintage. Wines of wonderful balance, great class; far from ready, not to be thought of before 1965. 18/20. Roses and whites rather on the heavy side, not too attractive 12/20.

1960. Full-bodied wines, but round and soft rather than firm and astringent. They have matured well and are already fit to drink although still improving. 15/20. 1959. The Rhône wines, especially those from the southern part of the valley, around Avignon, do not follow the same vintage pattern as the rest of France. Although in Hermitage (as practically everywhere in France) 1959 was a better year than 1960, this was not the case in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which deserves no better rating than 14/20. The rosés, of course, are now too old.

1958. Better balanced than 1959, not too heavy, fine Quite ready to drink today but still improving. 15/20.

1957. Extremely big wines, slow-maturing and still harsh. They are by no means ready, and should be laid away. They will probably prove remarkable. 16/20.

1956. Mediocre. Off the market.

1935. Wines of outstanding quality, now at their peak. Round, fine, well balanced. 17/20.

1954. Very, very poor. Under 10/20.

1953. Much less good than in the rest of France 12/20.

1952. If genuine, exceedingly great. Ripe and splendid today but showing no trace of old age. 19/20.

Loire Valley

1963. Probable quality (evaluation as of November 15): Fair in general, good Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé. 12/20 to 14/20.

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