The top vintage of 1869 gave way to the classic 1870, with the grapes picked even as France entered war with Germany in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871.
The 1870 vintage suffered from late frosts that reduced yields, but was early picked after a blisteringly hot summer.
The Chateau Lafite of 1870 is described by Michael Broadbent as “a powerhouse” which was “such a powerful and tannic wine that it was virtually undrinkable for half a century”.
These qualities are great for longevity, but a long way from what we’d expect to see in today’s market.
1869 and 1870 also saw the realisation that the phylloxera louse was a factor in the spread of a vineyard malaise being reported across France, although it would be a few years before the full impact of its advance was evident.