Though bars were still hopping in the United States in 1917 before our nation entered the throes of World War I, across the pond in Europe things were quite different. The continent was in upheaval as the war raged on, and in some of the world’s most recognizable wine regions, things weren’t much better. What were wines like 100 years ago?

In regions close to war like Champagne, their 1917 vintage was only rated at 65 points according to the Tasting Book, one of the only online sources that lists details about wine throughout Europe in 1917.

In Germany, the 1917 vintages were listed as complete losses because of the war. Rieslings and Gewürztraminer wines suffered tremendously.

In the southwest of France a little further from the action of firefights and mortar shells, the varietals in Bordeaux were harvested and processed literally on the backs of women, children, and the men who were too old to fight. The 1917 Bordeaux vintage has been described as ranging from good but unpublicized to being satisfactory with not much potential for longevity. But there was a 1917 vintage, and the French did drink wine.

Where wines seemingly excelled in 1917 Europe was on the Iberian Peninsula. According to Tasting Book, the highest rated wines of 1917 came from the Port region of Portugal, with wines from the Rioja region of Spain coming in second. Both vintages were placed at above 90 points across each region.

Top wines of 1917 include Unico from Bodegas Vega Sicilia in Ribera el Duero, Spain. It scored 97.3 points. Vintage port from Taylor’s scored 95 points. Third was Château Guiraud from Bordeaux at 90 points.

For adventurous drinkers looking to see what liquid grapes from 1917 taste like, there’s always a will where there’s a way (and a wallet). A bottle of 1917 JOY Millésime Bas-Armagnac brandy can be purchased for a mere $3,799.

by Perlick


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Vintage Report

One backs women, children and old men, in the vintage year 1917 at the harvest in Bordeaux. At that time, all the men almost were in the war. With an early harvest beginning simple wines could be brought in. The durability was not of great duration and the wines can be considered risky today.

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The 8th of March, the earl Ferdinand von Zeppelin, inventor and maker of the flying machine which has its name, died at the age of 78. In the early morning of the 15th of October, the famous dancer, Mata Hari, is shot in the Vincennes wood. The 7th of November (25th of October for the Russian calendar), the soviet revolution took place. The red Guardians headed by LОon Trotsky entered in Petrograd and took the Winter Palace, residence of the tsar and refuge of the government.

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The best wines of the 1917 vintage

Name Tb Producer Location
1 Niersteiner Riesling 99.0 Hermannshof Germany, Germany
2 Unico 97.3 Bodegas Vega Sicilia Ribera el Duero, Spain
3 Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey 96.5 Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey Bordeaux, France
4 Vintage Port 95.0 Taylor's Douro, Portugal
5 Para Port Vintage Tawny 94.0 Seppeltsfield South-Australia, Australia
6 Château Latour 92.0 Château Latour Bordeaux, France
7 Château La Fleur-Pétrus 90.0 Château Lafleur-Pétrus Bordeaux, France
8 Château Guiraud 90.0 Château Guiraud Bordeaux, France
9 Cheval Blanc 90.0 Château Cheval Blanc Bordeaux, France
10 Port Vintage 89.8 Borges Douro, Portugal
11 Château Gruaud-Larose 89.0 Château Gruaud-Larose Bordeaux, France
12 Vintage 89.0 Moët & Chandon Champagne, France
13 Château Coutet 88.5 Château Coutet Sauternes, France
14 Château de Rayne Vigneau 88.0 Château de Rayne Vigneau Bordeaux, France
15 Marques de Riscal Reserva 88.0 Marqués de Riscal Rioja, Spain
16 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 88.0 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Bordeaux, France
17 Vintage 88.0 Unknown Port Wine Douro, Portugal
18 La Mission Haut Brion 88.0 Château La Mission Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
19 Imperial Gran Reserva 86.0 C.V.N.E /Cune Rioja, Spain
20 Lafite-Rothschild 86.0 Château Lafite-Rothschild Bordeaux, France
21 d'Yquem 85.5 Château d'Yquem Bordeaux, France
22 White 0.0 Niepoort Douro, Portugal


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