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Vintage Report

Bordeaux 1959 was proclaimed the wine year of the century by overzealous journalists. Even though it was an excellent year, it simply was not the best of the century. The year started off with ideal weather conditions. Summer was perfect all the way until the autumn, when the rains came in mid-September. But the rains made way for hot, dry weather, thus setting a magnificent stage for the start of the harvest.  The result was a truly ripe and juicy crop. The reds are typically full-bodied, with soft acidity and a fat mouthfeel that comes from the high alcohol content. Even though the vintage is generally compared to 1961, it has much in common with the 1949. The Sauternes vintage was equally a success and the region produced some very long-lived wines. Once again the Château Lafite-Rothschild achieved complete success, sharing the title of best wine of the vintage with the Haut-Brion. Right on their heels is the Pétrus, which should be decanted for at least three hours before drinking, and the La-Mission-Haut-Brion.

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“This was no party of the year, it was the celebration of 25 centuries!” Orson Welles

In 1959 the atmosphere was keyed up. All the necessary barbed wire fences had been erected around the huge gala venue. Special troops consisting of professional soldiers guarded the area, keeping the curious at bay. A number of private planes carrying diverse heads of state had already landed at the nearby Shiraz airport, and many more were on their way. A 200-million-dollar party was just beginning. Surrounded by steel spikes, in the depths of a huge cluster of marquees, 306 bottles of the first-ever vintage of Dom Pérignon Rosé champagne impatiently awaited the royal gourmands.

 

The 2,500-year anniversary of the Persian Empire was one of the most flamboyant society events of the twentieth century. Planning of the event had begun in the late 1950s, and it climaxed in a gala dinner held on 14 October 1971. The light-coloured leather seats of 250 red Mercedes-Benz limousines carried 600 guests of honour, including royals and heads of state, to a huge serpentine table, where they would enjoy the world’s most lavish dinner.

 

The dinner was made and served by the world-renowned Parisian establishment Maxim’s, which was forced to close down its restaurant in Paris for several weeks due to the festivities.

For almost six months the Imperial Iranian Air Force made frequent sorties between Shiraz and Paris, flying supplies which were then trucked cautiously in army lorries to Persepolis. Each month, goods were driven down the desert highway to deliver building materials for fifty Jansen AG-designed air-conditioned tents, Italian drapes and curtains, Limoges dinnewares, Baccarat crystal, Porthault linens, an exclusive Robert Havilland cup-and-saucer service and over 5,000 bottles of wine (including 1959 Dom Pérignon Rosé).

 

 

The event was officially opened with a toast of Dom Pérignon Rosé 1959 champagne.

The dinner started off with quails’ eggs filled with caviar from the Caspian Sea. The host, the Shah of Iran, was actually allergic to caviar and had to settle for an artichoke dish. Next came a mousse of crayfish tails, which was nicely complemented by a Château Haut-Brion Blanc from 1964.

 

The celebrated 1945 vintage of Château Lafite Rothschild added some elegance and a dash of soft tannins to the third course of roast saddle of lamb with truffles. Before the main course, the guests’ taste buds were refreshed by a champagne sorbet and a taste of the Moët & Chandon vintage champagne from 1911, created during the Champagne Riots. The main course was Iran’s ancient national symbol, peacock, stuffed with foie gras. The 50 roast birds decorated with peacock tail feathers were a stunning sight on the dinner table. The Comte de Vogué Musigny from 1945, a soft Pinot Noir, was chosen to contribute a suitable depth and structure to the meal. The Dom Pérignon Rosé champagne from 1959 was also chosen to accompany the dessert of glazed Oporto ring of fresh figs with cream and raspberry champagne sherbet.

 

The six hundred guests dined for over five and a half hours, making this the longest and most lavish official banquet in modern history, as recorded in successive editions of the Guinness Book of World Records. In the words of Orson Welles, “This was no party of the year, it was the celebration of 25 centuries!”

 

1959 was the first vintage of Dom Pérignon Rosé. The first bottles of such glamorous quality, considered the “jewel of Dom Pérignon”, were first set on lees in the Dom Pérignon cellars in 1960, with only 306 bottles released. The vintage was only presented at the celebration of the Persian Empire; it was never commercially released. As Richard Geoffroy, Dom Pérignon’s Chef de Cave, says, it was a turning point: “Dom Pérignon Rosé vintage 1959 is a rare, superlative, mythical vintage. Powerful and solar, its light will inspire the creation of Dom Pérignon Rosé forever.” Geoffroy also told us that there are only a few bottles left in the Dom Pérignon cellars. “Looking back, I think of the creator of the Dom Pérignon Rosé 1959 – René Philipponnat. I contemplate what has become of Dom Pérignon’s legacy: his ambition to pioneer rosé wines at a new level; the start of the Dom Pérignon Rosé adventure that generated the other expression of Dom Pérignon. Looking forward, it is my duty to live up to this heritage and keep pushing and taking risks to make an ever more provocative rosé.”

 

The Dom Pérignon Rosé 1959 vintage reached a record price of USD 84,700 at a historic rare champagne auction in New York, overseen by Acker Merrall & Condit. In this, their first ever public sale, the Dom Pérignon Rosé 1959 “rarer than rare” bottles were estimated at USD 5,000–7,000, but were acquired for the astronomical price by a wine investor.

 

92p

1959 Dom Pérignon Rosé                      2010/now

D 30 min / G 30 min (disgorged 3/69)

 

Excellent looking bottle. Purchased from private cellar of Italian champagne collector, whose father was an importer of Dom Pérignon in 70’s. This rare and unique bottle was opened at Premier Wine Club event in 2010.

In our open minds, we had no trouble imagine, that this bottle – Celebration bottle - we just opened was one of the “left overs” from the 2,500-year anniversary of the Persian Empire. Sometimes if you have an adequate amount of wild imagination, even the poor wine could taste like haven. Happily the only thing we needed to get this Celebration wine taste like pure silk was time, and after 30 minutes aeration it opened and became out of this world.

Intense, hazy, amber colour. Rich and complex nose that evolves beautifully in the glass. Pronounced and intense nose delivers white truffles, jammed arctic bramble, figs, hints of smoke and liquorice. Dry, intense and rich palate with vivid acidity, elegant and complex taste shows multilayered flavours. Focused and concentrated long crispy red berry finish. Vinous and peculiar style of Champagne. This unforgettable bottle was disgorged in 1969, and was absolutely the most charming and finely tuned wine. 

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1959 the unemployment problems eased to 5.5%. Television programmes included "Rawhide", "Bonanza" and "The Twilight Zone", movies included "Some Like it Hot", "Ben Hur" and "North by Northwest". Alaska is admitted to the union and becomes the 49th state and Hawaii is admitted to the the Union and became the 50th State. The Boeing 707 Jet Airliner comes into service and little girls love the Barbie Dolls created by Ruth Handler and made by Mattel. Fidel Castro comes to power in Cuba

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The best wines of the 1959 vintage

Name Tb Producer Location
1 Cuvée N.F. Vinothèque 99.0 Billecart-Salmon Champagne, France
2 Lafite-Rothschild 98.3 Château Lafite-Rothschild Bordeaux, France
3 Château Mouton-Rothschild 98.1 Château Mouton-Rothschild Bordeaux, France
4 Millésime 98.0 Henriot Champagne, France
5 Vinothèque 98.0 Paul Bara Champagne, France
6 La Tâche 97.5 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
7 Château Haut-Brion 97.2 Château Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
8 Cuvée St-Vincent Blanc de Blancs 97.0 Legras & Haas Champagne, France
9 Brut Millésime 97.0 Deutz Champagne, France
10 Steinberger Riesling Edelbeerenauslese 97.0 Kloster Eberbach Rheingau, Germany
11 Krug Collection 97.0 Krug Champagne, France
12 Echezeaux 97.0 Domaine Leroy Burgundy, France
13 Château Latour 96.6 Château Latour Bordeaux, France
14 Steinberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 96.3 Kloster Eberbach Rheingau, Germany
15 Bonnes Mares Grand Cru 96.2 Domaine Georges Roumier Burgundy, France
16 Krug Vintage 96.1 Krug Champagne, France
17 La Mission Haut Brion 96.0 Château La Mission Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
18 Corton 96.0 Maison Louis Latour Burgundy, France
19 Scharzhofberger Auslese 96.0 Weingut Egon Müller-Scharzhof Saar, Germany
20 Chateau La Tour Haut Brion 96.0 Château La Tour Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
21 Imperial Reserva 96.0 C.V.N.E /Cune Rioja, Spain
22 Carte d´Or Brut Champagne 96.0 Drappier Champagne, France
23 Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot 1er Cru 96.0 Joseph Drouhin Burgundy, France
24 Meursault Goutte d’Or 96.0 Joseph Drouhin Burgundy, France
25 Glorioso Crianza 96.0 Bodegas Palacio Rioja, Spain
26 Assmannshäuser Höllenberg Cabinet 96.0 Kloster Eberbach Rheingau, Germany
27 Gevrey-Chambertin 96.0 Albert Bichot Bourgogne, France
28 Cuvée des Enchanteleurs 96.0 Henriot Champagne, France
29 Chambertin 96.0 Domaine Armand Rousseau Burgundy, France
30 Clos des Goisses L.V. 96.0 Philipponnat Champagne, France
31 Assmannshäuser Höllenberg Cabinet 96.0 Kloster Eberbach Rheingau, Germany
32 Mumm Rosé 96.0 G.H. Mumm Champagne, France
33 Grands Echézeaux 95.8 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
34 d'Yquem 95.5 Château d'Yquem Bordeaux, France
35 Blanc de Blancs 95.5 Pol Roger Champagne, France
36 Hermitage La Chapelle 95.4 Paul Jaboulet & Âiné Rhône, France
37 Château Suduiraut 95.3 Château Suduiraut Bordeaux, France
38 Cheval Blanc 95.2 Château Cheval Blanc Bordeaux, France
39 Grand Vintage 95.0 Moët & Chandon Champagne, France
40 Le Montrachet 95.0 Bouchard Père & Fils Burgundy, France
41 Vintage 95.0 Ruinart Champagne, France
42 Oestricher Lenchen Riesling Spätlese 95.0 August Eser Rheingau, Germany
43 Vintage Brut 95.0 Lanson Champagne, France
44 Musigny Vieilles Vignes 95.0 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Burgundy, France
45 Château La Conseillante 95.0 Château La Conseillante Bordeaux, France
46 Château L´Evangile 95.0 Château L´Evangile Pomerol, France
47 Musigny 95.0 Bouchard Aîné & Fils Bourgogne, France
48 Richebourg 95.0 Jean Gros Burgundy, France
49 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Feine Auslese 95.0 Weingut J. J. Prüm Mosel, Germany
50 Carte d'Or 95.0 Drappier Champagne, France
51 Vintage 95.0 Piper-Heidsieck Champagne, France
52 L'Eglise-Clinet 95.0 Château L'Eglise-Clinet Bordeaux, France
53 Randersackerer Spielberg Riesling 95.0 Weingut Bürgerspital zum Heiligen Geist Würzburger Stein, Germany
54 La Romanée 95.0 Domaine Leroy Burgundy, France
55 Pétrus 95.0 Château Pétrus Pomerol, France
56 Vintage 95.0 Gosset Champagne, France
57 Montrose 94.8 Château Montrose Bordeaux, France
58 Assmannshäuser Höllenberg Cabinet 94.7 Kloster Eberbach Rheingau, Germany
59 Unico 94.7 Bodegas Vega Sicilia Ribera el Duero, Spain
60 Léoville-Las Cases 94.7 Château Léoville-Las Cases Saint-Julien, France
61 Dom Pérignon Rosé 94.7 Moët & Chandon Champagne, France
62 Salon 94.6 Salon Champagne, France
63 Bual 94.5 Blandy's Madeira, Portugal
64 Latour-à-Pomerol 94.5 Château Latour-à-Pomerol Bordeaux, France
65 Musigny 94.5 Bouchard Père & Fils Burgundy, France
66 Steinberger Riesling Beerenauslese 94.3 Kloster Eberbach Rheingau, Germany
67 Lafleur 94.2 Château Lafleur Bordeaux, France
68 Vintage 94.2 Charles Heidsieck Champagne, France
69 Château Margaux 94.1 Château Margaux Bordeaux, France
70 Vina Real Gran Reserva 94.1 C.V.N.E /Cune Rioja, Spain
71 Dom Pérignon Oenothèque 94.0 Moët & Chandon Champagne, France
72 Château Filhot 94.0 Château Filhot Sauternes, France
73 Sigalas-Rabaud 94.0 Château Sigalas-Rabaud Bordeaux, France
74 Vintage rosé 94.0 Pommery Champagne, France
75 Romanée Conti 94.0 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
76 Vintage 94.0 Pommery Champagne, France
77 Richebourg 94.0 Domaine Leroy Burgundy, France
78 Richebourg 94.0 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
79 Grand Brut 94.0 Perrier-Jouët Champagne, France
80 Vouvray Le Haut-Lieu Moelleux 94.0 Domaine Huet Loire, France
81 Chateau Lynch-Bages 94.0 Château Lynch-Bages Pauillac, France
82 Vintage Rare Tawny 94.0 Saltram Barossa Valley, Australia
83 Cuvée Rosé LP 94.0 Laurent-Perrier Champagne, France
84 Cuvée Royale Blanc de Noirs 94.0 Joseph Perrier Champagne, France
85 Vintage 94.0 Taittinger Champagne, France
86 Bonnes Mares 94.0 Domaine Clair-Dau Burgundy, France
87 Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey 94.0 Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey Bordeaux, France
88 Private Release 94.0 Heitz Cellar Napa Valley, United States
89 R.D. Bollinger 94.0 Bollinger Champagne, France
90 Vintage 94.0 Perrier-Jouët Champagne, France
91 Pol Roger vintage 94.0 Pol Roger Champagne, France
92 Château Pape Clément 94.0 Château Pape Clément Bordeaux, France
93 Grand Cru Vintage 94.0 Bonnaire Champagne, France
94 Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert 94.0 Paul Jaboulet & Âiné Rhône, France
95 Château Gruaud-Larose 93.7 Château Gruaud-Larose Bordeaux, France
96 Richebourg 93.7 Patriarche Père & Fils France, France
97 Vintage Rosé 93.5 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne, France
98 Clos de Tart 93.5 Mommessin Burgundy, France
99 Musigny 93.5 Louis Jadot Burgundy, France
100 Romanée St. Vivant 93.0 Charles Noellat Burgundy, France

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