1960. A year of small wines although rather good in the Pfalz. Most of them had to be sugared and they will not last. 12/20.
1959. An exceedingly great year, certainly unsurpassed since the last war and, as far as the better wines are concerned, comparable to 1921. But wine-making methods in Germany have changed greatly in the last four decades; the wines are now bottled much earlier, in order to conserve their freshness and fruit, and. there being a great demand for them, the ’59s were presented when they were by no means ready and had acquired neither balance nor bouquet. It is a great mistake to drink the great German wines thus, when they are like unfortunate overweight adolescents, and do not show either their true character or their “line.” The great ’59s are just now coming into their own; they are much better and they seem less obvious and much less sweet; they will continue to improve for at least five or six years—but this is true only of the selected wines of top origin. These deserve not far from 20/20. The smaller wines are already past their prime.
1958. A very good year, now in great demand in Germany. The little, common, sugared wines arc gone, but the better Naturweine are at present at their peak—dry. fine, bouquetés, light, distinguished, as the ’61s and ’62s will be a year or two from now. 15/20.
Except for the sweet and expensive rarities—Beerencuslesen, Trockenbeerenauslesen, etc.—German wines older than the ’58s are a poor risk.
In the past ten or fifteen years, Italian wines have made thousands of new friends in the United States. Most of us like Italian food, and nothing is belter with it than Italian wine; many of us have visited Italy and found the local wines both excellent and interesting—uncomplicated, appetizing, and attractive.
The majority of Italian wines are made to be drunk when young—only a few reds (the finer Chiantis, certain rare Valpolicellas, and the Barolos and Barbarescos of the Province of Piedmont) improve much with age.
Almost all of the white wines, and the few roses which are exported (Chiarello, Chiaretto, etc.), are at their best when under three years old, and for these a vintage chart is quite unnecessary.
The finest grades of Chianti are shipped in ordinary wine bottles, like Bordeaux, and these do improve with aging. The others in the familiar straw-covered fiaschi are ready to drink well before their third birthday, and in Florence you will find them served even younger.
For those worth laying down, here are the best recent years: Chianti: 1962, 1961, 1958, 1957; Valpolicella: 1962, 1961; Barola, Barbaresco: 1962, 1961, 1958, 1956, 1955.