Bordeaux 1980 / The 1980s was a glorious decade. The nature was cherishing Bordeaux appellations and decade yielded good to excellent vintages excluding 1980, 1984 and 1987. Last time nature was treating Bordeaux this well was in the 1920’s. However 1980’s turned out to be even greater decade since the heavy investing on wine making facilities and vineyard work took place. The new technology and know-how was also introduced in chateaus. This became a golden era for the oenologists, who were the students of revolutionizing oenologist legend Émile Peynaud.

The slump of the 1970’s was left behind and the generally improving financial circumstances also contributed and brought new customers.

The decade also created a new phenomenon that profoundly changed the world of wine forever: "parkerisation". Wine critic Robert M. Parker Jr, who established the magazine The Wine Advocate in 1978, became the most important person to influence the wine production in Bordeaux and the whole world. He had a good guide to introduce the Bordeaux wine scene a young oenologist Michel Rolland, a student of Peynaud. While Peynaud was preaching in the name of terroirs, Michel Rolland focused on winemaking. It was Michel Rolland who introduced the modern fruit-driven style with new wine making techniques in Bordeaux fulfilling the appeal of his influential friend Robert M. Parker Jr. Together these two gentlemen escorted Bordeaux into the new era which was welcome by new customers with new palates from Far East, Europe and United States at the end of 1980’s.

Unlike 1970’s this decade had a poor beginning with the vintage 1980. The cold spring postponed the flowering to end of June, which was cold and wet. The summer was otherwise moderate although mixed one. Then the sunny and warm September made the late ripening vintage which faced still first rainy then cold circumstances in October after being harvested later that month. Neither the reds or the dry whites succeeded extremely well rather modestly. Exception was taken by Pétrus and Margaux which both succeeded very well. The best wine of the vintage was anyway Yquem, which is surprisingly concentrated.

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Vintage Report

Napa Vintage Report: An under-rated vintage which produced some good North Coast Cabernet

Weather Conditions A wet winter gave way to a cool early season. The bloom period was smooth but it was unusually long lasting over a month. Then the season turned unusually cool and foggy with everyone praying for a warm spell. The long awaited, badly needed heat spell arrived in September to allow the fruit to develop high sugar content while holding decent to good acidity. Then as the harvest unfolded the weather turned hot and nasty. The Cabernet clusters were a mix of ripe, green, and over-ripe berries. Initial great expectations was never fulfilled by Napa Cabernets. This was a vintage with widespread "stuck" fermentations and high levels of hydrogen sulfide. However, many winemakers overcame these problems and the best reds were ripe and balanced and their varietal character only diminished by high alcohol. Despite being awkward in their youth, a few acquired some grace with aging. Grace Family Vineyards, one of the first cult Cabernet producers, cam up with a spectacular wine

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Vintage Report

Champagne: The difficult and unstable weather conditions that prevailed during the whole year produced a small and modest vintage.

    The chilly and rainy spring and early summer delayed the flowering. The poor weather led to an unstable fruit set, which resulted in millerandage, i.e. different-sized berries developed in the bunches. This led to a small harvest, which matured very unevenly. The weather, which continued to be chilly and rainy over the summer, made the harvest arrive much later than usual. As if by miracle, at the end of September, a dry and sunny weather front which saved the harvest year from catastrophe arrived in Champagne. The sugar content of the grapes, however, remained modest, which forced most of the producers to chaptalize higher than usual.

As a result of this, there are even big differences in wines in places. Even though the result was for the most part passable, a few champagne houses whose sites were favorably situated in regards to the sun delayed their harvest all the way until November. The harvest remained small, and the vintage can hardly be seen on the market. Sharp acids and a light taste have marked the wines from the start. If you can still find this wine in the cellar, enjoy it quickly.

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As the continued miniaturization continues new technology allows for new consumer products that could never have existed to appear including Domestic Camcorders and Fax Machines . One other notable is the release of the Pac-Man arcade game. Politics enters the Olympic games with the boycott by the US of the Moscow Olympics and War breaks out between Iraq and Iran. This was also a bad year for natural disasters including Mount St. Helens eruption on 27th March and a major heat wave in the US. Also the world tunes in to the answer of Who Shot JR? on the popular soap Dallas.

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Vintage Report by Angelo Gaja: In 1980 and 1981, we refused to bottle. It was a disaster. We declassified GAJA wines. And in 1981, we vinified only 25% of the crop. I remember that we started the harvest at the end of October and by November 3rd we had snow that completely covered the vineyard. We had to wait nine to ten days for the snow to melt. But the grapes were not ripe. Harvest was over by November 15 or 17. But it was so late.


Italy Vintage Report by Tb: The 1980s were characterised by the drive to produce better wines through a boundary-breaking, experimental programme of winemaking that started in the 1970s. The implementation of methods already used by Angelo Gaja in the 1960s proliferated as vineyards updated their equipment. Smaller French oak casks, which replaced the old barrels traditionally used, temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks for wine production, and malolactic fermentation were combined with increasing assuredness in the production of international and domestic varieties. However, even with all of this underway, the assistance of a top oenologist was still very much needed. Tachis' success as the creator of Super Tuscans provided him with the impetus to continue working on the development of new table wines. A collaboration with Antinori resulted in the super-wine Solaia in 1982. Soon after this, Tachis became a consultant to assist vineyards all over Italy. Along with Tachis, Montevetrine's winemaking consultant Giulio Gambelli was among the country’s most highly esteemed oenologists. They laid the foundation for the next wave of winemaking gurus: Franco Bernabei, Maurizio Castelli and Vittorio Fiore.


The early 1980s produced rather modest vintages. Incisa della Rochetta, however, managed to make an excellent vintage – the Sassicaia 1980 (JL 90 p.) Otherwise, the top vintage 1982 proved to be the first very good year of the decade. In Tuscany 1982 was a hot, sunny and dry year. In Piedmont grapes were blessed with light rains just before the October harvest. Both regions produced very high quality wines. The Barolos and Barbarescos still have the potential for further bottle maturation.


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The best wines of the 1980 vintage

Name Tb Producer Location
1 Krug Clos du Mesnil 96.3 Krug Champagne, France
2 La Tâche 95.7 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
3 Howell Mountain 95.0 Dunn Vineyards Napa Valley, United States
4 Bonnes Mares Grand Cru 95.0 Domaine Dujac Burgundy, France
5 Cristal 94.5 Louis Roederer Champagne, France
6 Amarone della Valpociella 94.0 Quintarelli Giuseppe Amarone della Valpolicella, Italy
7 Romanee Saint Vivant 94.0 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
8 Vieilles Vignes Françaises 93.5 Bollinger Champagne, France
9 Dom Pérignon Oenothèque 93.3 Moët & Chandon Champagne, France
10 Nacional Vintage Port 93.3 Quinta do Noval Douro, Portugal
11 Dom Pérignon 93.2 Moët & Chandon Champagne, France
12 Clos St-Denis Grand Cru 93.0 Domaine Dujac Burgundy, France
13 Vintage Port 93.0 Warre's Douro, Portugal
14 Bonnes Mares Grand Cru 93.0 Domaine Georges Roumier Burgundy, France
15 Richebourg 93.0 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
16 Chambertin 93.0 Domaine Armand Rousseau Burgundy, France
17 Pétrus 93.0 Château Pétrus Pomerol, France
18 Black Label 92.5 Wolf Blass South Eastern, Australia
19 Clos-de-la-Roche Vieilles-Vignes 92.5 Domaine Ponsot Burgundy, France
20 Vintage 92.3 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne, France
21 Cave Privée 92.0 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne, France
22 Château Raymond-Lafon 92.0 Château Raymond-Lafon Bordeaux, France
23 Bonnes Mares 92.0 Domaine Leroy Burgundy, France
24 Cabernet Sauvignon 92.0 Joseph Phelps Napa Valley, United States
25 Savigny Les Beaunes Les Peuillets 92.0 Domaine Leroy Burgundy, France
26 Cuvée Louise 92.0 Pommery Champagne, France
27 Hermitage Blanc 92.0 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Rhône, France
28 Chambertin Clos de Bèze 92.0 Domaine Armand Rousseau Burgundy, France
29 Dom Pérignon Rosé 91.7 Moët & Chandon Champagne, France
30 Clos des Goisses 91.3 Philipponnat Champagne, France
31 Chambolle Musigny 91.0 Domaine Georges Roumier Burgundy, France
32 Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 91.0 Caymus Vineyards Napa Valley, United States
33 Unico 90.9 Bodegas Vega Sicilia Ribera el Duero, Spain
34 Martha's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 90.5 Heitz Cellar Napa Valley, United States
35 Vintage Port 90.5 Dow's Portugal, Portugal
36 Echezeaux 90.0 Henri Jayer Burgundy, France
37 Würzburger Pfaffenberg Weißburgunder Kabinett trocken 90.0 Weingut Bürgerspital zum Heiligen Geist Würzburger Stein, Germany
38 Château Pape Clément Blanc 90.0 Château Pape Clément Bordeaux, France
39 Wolf Blass Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 90.0 Wolf Blass South Eastern, Australia
40 Corton-Charlemagne 90.0 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Burgundy, France
41 Sassicaia 90.0 Tenuta San Guido Tuscany, Italy
42 Tignanello 89.5 Antinori Tuscany, Italy
43 Grange Hermitage 89.4 Penfolds South Australia, Australia
44 Veuve Clicquot Brut 89.3 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne, France
45 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 89.0 Heitz Cellar Napa Valley, United States
46 La Mission Haut Brion 89.0 Château La Mission Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
47 Opus One 89.0 Opus One Napa Valley, United States
48 Château Musar 88.5 Château Musar Ghazir, Lebanon
49 Mas de Daumas Gassac Rouge 88.0 Mas de Daumas Gassac Languedoc-Roussillon, France
50 Vintage Port 88.0 Taylor's Douro, Portugal
51 d'Yquem 88.0 Château d'Yquem Bordeaux, France
52 Château Palmer 88.0 Château Palmer Bordeaux, France
53 Château Margaux 88.0 Château Margaux Bordeaux, France
54 Vintage Port 87.5 Graham's Douro, Portugal
55 Château Haut-Brion 87.5 Château Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
56 Château Mouton-Rothschild 87.0 Château Mouton-Rothschild Bordeaux, France
57 Cabernet Sauvignon 87.0 Leeuwin Estate Margaret River, Australia
58 Cabernet Sauvignon 86.0 Wynns Coonawarra Estate South Australia, Australia
59 Lafite-Rothschild 86.0 Château Lafite-Rothschild Bordeaux, France
60 Chambertin 86.0 Domaine Leroy Burgundy, France
61 Cheval Blanc 83.5 Château Cheval Blanc Bordeaux, France
62 Château Haut-Marbuzet 83.5 Château Haut-Marbuzet Bordeaux, France
63 Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 83.0 Mount Eden Vineyards Santa Cruz Mountains, United States
64 Marques de Riscal Reserva 82.0 Marqués de Riscal Rioja, Spain
65 Cindy´s Reserve CS 82.0 Cindy's Stellenboch, South Africa
66 Ca del Bosco 82.0 Ca' del Bosco Lombardy , Italy
67 Marqués de Riscal Gran Reserva 81.0 Marqués de Riscal Rioja, Spain
68 Hermitage La Chapelle 80.0 Paul Jaboulet & Âiné Rhône, France
69 Château Branaire 77.0 Château Branaire-Ducru Saint-Julien, France
70 R.D. Bollinger 0.0 Bollinger Champagne, France
71 Col d'Orcia Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 0.0 Col d'Orcia Tuscany, Italy
72 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 0.0 Penfolds South Australia, Australia
73 Château de Fargues 0.0 Château de Fargues Sauternes, France
74 Brut 0.0 Besserat de Bellefon Champagne, France


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