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 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.

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The best wines of the 1869 vintage

Name Tb Producer Location
1 Marques de Riscal Reserva 94.0 Marqués de Riscal Rioja, Spain
2 Château de Rayne Vigneau 92.0 Château de Rayne Vigneau Bordeaux, France
3 Château Gruaud-Larose 84.0 Château Gruaud-Larose Bordeaux, France

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