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Vintage Report

Bordeaux: The 2nd in a trio of great vintages and one that produced a large crop of ripe, rich, fleshy wines that typically possess soft, silky tannins, accompanied by high alcohol levels. It was the hottest summer since 1949 and the harvest began on August 28th, the earliest since 1893. The grapes were harvested in dry conditions, with the only worry being that some of the acidity levels were on the low side, leading to suggestions that some wines would not be suitable for long-term ageing. Ten years down the line, these fears have proved largely unfounded as the best wines are now showing extremely well, displaying concentration and great complexity.

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Vintage Report

Champagne: A warm vintage, when simply charming wines were produced. There was not, however, enough warmth throughout the year. The spring frosts killed some of the sprouts reducing the harvest by even 20%. Inflorescences were interrupted as a result of the exceptionally cold weather. This was followed by the maturing of grapes in two phases. The first harvest was done already in the beginning of September and the second in the beginning of October. All in all, the result was a big harvest of good wines. The vintage has been compared to what others think are the legendary hot vintages of the century – 1947, 1959 and 1976. The wines are marked by a rich essence, a heavy taste, a tropical fruitiness and milder acids. The vintage matures noticeably faster than 1988 and 1990, reaching its peak in the next 3–5 years.

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Vintage Report by Angelo Gaja:  I believe that 1989 is a beautiful vintage. The vintage is not prized because 1989 was good only in Piedmont and principally in the Langhe. It rained in Italy a lot in October and November. In Piedmont, we had a cloudy time for almost fifteen days. It rained in Cuneo, in Switzerland, and partially in Asti. But not in the Langhe. We were crossing our fingers. The sun started again after fifteen days and we had sun through October to the beginning of November. Perfectly ripe. The vintage was obscured by 1990, of course.

By Tb: 1989 was a low-yield and difficult year. Piedmont underwent a terrible ordeal in June when a hailstorm cut a swath across Barolo, destroying plantations. Some producers lost as much as half of their crops, but both Barolo and Barbaresco still managed to produce small, high-quality crops. This vintage is generally considered to be the best for red wine. In Tuscany 1989 was one of the most widely varying on record. Some regions suffered from incessant rain, whilst others endured drought. Montalcino and Montepulciano fared the best. Indeed, these wines are generally light and fast-maturing.

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1989 / The Year That Changed The World

If you think you're sometimes spoiled for choice, consider the lot of a news editor on the first weekend of June 1989. On the afternoon of Saturday, June 3, the condition of Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, began to rapidly deteriorate. Just before midnight, Khomeini, 86, died, his death announced on the radio a few hours later. Tehran is 31/2 hours behind Beijing, so at just the time the crowds in Iran were taking to the streets in extraordinary expressions of grief, the people of Beijing, no less in shock, were coming to terms with what had happened in the early hours of that Sunday morning. Troops of the People's Liberation Army had cleared the remnants of student protests in Tiananmen Square, shooting into the crowds as they did so.

But that was not all. As grief and horror respectively gripped Tehran and Beijing, Poles were awakening to a day of hope. In the spring, Poland's ruling Communist Party had been compelled to open roundtable talks with the opposition, including representatives of Solidarity, the civic and trade-union group that had survived the imposition of martial law in 1981. In Hungary in 1956, and again in Czechoslovakia in 1968, Soviet tanks had crushed popular reform movements. By 1989, however, the winds of change in Eastern Europe had reached gale force. In the Soviet Union itself, the General Secretary of the Communist Party, Mikhail Gorbachev, was discarding old habits like a teenager throwing out last year's fashions. The Soviet leadership no longer had the stony heart or iron fist to impose its rule by force of arms. And so on June 4, Poland was to hold an election, albeit one in which the Communist Party's position was protected. When the two rounds of votes were counted, Solidarity had won virtually every seat in the Sejm, Poland's parliament, that it could contest. The division that had scarred Europe since the end of World War II was coming to end. The rivets in the Iron Curtain were beginning to pop.

All Changed
Historians, picking over what has gone before, revising past judgments, will tell you that our understanding of the past is never final. What were thought to be world-changing events dim into topics of an obscure Ph.D. thesis; what seemed to be small stories turn out to be the ones that shaped the future. All is relative.

Yet 1989 truly was one of those years that the world shifted on its pivot. Some things did change, and changed utterly; we are living with their consequences still. Some things ended, too — not just communism as a state practice, for example, but also the idea that the international system is driven solely by state action. In a way that was only dimly perceived 20 years ago, elements such as multinational business, technological innovation and personal faith now shape our world just as states do.

Whatever the importance of events after 1989, the year itself is one for the ages. That was understood at the time. In the most famous contemporary analysis of current events, Francis Fukuyama, a brilliant American scholar who was then serving on the policy-planning staff of the U.S. State Department, published an essay in the journal the National Interest entitled "The End of History." The statement of his central thesis was unequivocal: "What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government." (Fukuyama turned the article into a book, and over the years, in a spirit of generous intellectual openness, defended and refined his thesis in the light of the many attacks on it.)

In history's hourglass, 20 years amounts to just a dribble of sand. It is still too early to know if Fukuyama's claims will be fully borne out. As I write this, the world is transfixed by the events in Iran, a state that hardly rated a glancing reference in Fukuyama's original article. But one aspect of Fukuyama's thesis has been proven right in spades. Notwithstanding the fact that the world economy is in the midst of the most severe contraction since the 1930s, there really has been "an unabashed victory of economic liberalism" over a competing economic system — that of a centrally planned economy — which once appeared to offer an alternative to free markets.

 

 

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The best wines of the 1989 vintage

Name Tb Producer Location
1 Château Haut-Brion 98.8 Château Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
2 Pétrus 98.1 Château Pétrus Pomerol, France
3 La Mission Haut Brion 97.5 Château La Mission Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
4 Reserve des Célestin CNP 97.3 Henri Bonneau Châteauneuf du Pape, France
5 Montrose 97.3 Château Montrose Bordeaux, France
6 Vouvray Le Clos du Bourg Moelleux Première Trie 97.0 Domaine Huet Loire, France
7 Masseto 97.0 Ornellaia Tuscany, Italy
8 Vieilles Vignes Françaises 96.8 Bollinger Champagne, France
9 Batard-Montrachet 96.5 Domaine Ramonet Burgundy, France
10 Château Haut-Brion Blanc 96.5 Château Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
11 Krug Clos du Mesnil 96.3 Krug Champagne, France
12 Hommage à Jacques Perrin 96.3 Château de Beaucastel Rhône, France
13 Clos des Goisses L.V. 96.0 Philipponnat Champagne, France
14 Lafleur 96.0 Château Lafleur Bordeaux, France
15 La Turque 95.8 E.Guigal Rhône, France
16 Chateau Lynch-Bages 95.8 Château Lynch-Bages Pauillac, France
17 Château Gilette 95.7 Château Gilette Bordeaux, France
18 Côte-Rôtie La Landonne 95.7 E.Guigal Rhône, France
19 Meursault-Perrières 95.5 Coche Dury Burgundy, France
20 Chambertin 95.5 Joseph Drouhin Burgundy, France
21 Romanée Conti 95.5 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
22 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Réservé 95.5 Château Rayas Rhône, France
23 Barbaresco Santo Stefano 95.4 Bruno Giacosa Barolo, Italy
24 Châteauneuf-du-Pape 95.3 Château Rayas Rhône, France
25 Sori Tildin 95.3 Angelo Gaja Barbaresco, Italy
26 Le Pin 95.3 Le Pin Bordeaux, France
27 Château Clinet 95.1 Château Clinet Bordeaux, France
28 Barolo Cannubi Boschis 95.1 Luciano Sandrone Piedmont, Italy
29 Musigny V.V. 95.0 Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Burgundy, France
30 Opus One 95.0 Opus One Napa Valley, United States
31 Blanc des Millénaires 95.0 Charles Heidsieck Champagne, France
32 Hermitage Blanc 95.0 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Rhône, France
33 Chevalier-Montrachet 95.0 Domaine Leflaive Burgundy, France
34 Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche 95.0 Joseph Drouhin Burgundy, France
35 Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto Riserva 95.0 Bruno Giacosa Barolo, Italy
36 Montrachet 95.0 Marquis de Laguiche Burgundy, France
37 Hermitage 95.0 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Rhône, France
38 Montrachet 95.0 Domaine Ramonet Burgundy, France
39 Clos de la Roche 95.0 Nicolas Potel Burgundy, France
40 Barolo Falletto di Serralunga 95.0 Bruno Giacosa Barolo, Italy
41 Côte-Rôtie La Mouline 95.0 E.Guigal Rhône, France
42 Tertre Roteboeuf 95.0 Château Tertre Roteboeuf Bordeaux, France
43 Chambolle Musigny Amoureuses 95.0 Domaine Georges Roumier Burgundy, France
44 Barolo Rocche 95.0 Vietti Piedmont, Italy
45 Cristal Vinothèque 95.0 Louis Roederer Champagne, France
46 Unico Reserva Especial 95.0 Bodegas Vega Sicilia Ribera el Duero, Spain
47 Le Mesnil 95.0 Bruno Paillard Champagne, France
48 Barolo 95.0 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo, Italy
49 Barolo Sperss 95.0 Angelo Gaja Barbaresco, Italy
50 Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St. Jacques 95.0 Domaine Armand Rousseau Burgundy, France
51 d'Yquem 94.8 Château d'Yquem Bordeaux, France
52 Collina Rionda Riserva 94.8 Bruno Giacosa Barolo, Italy
53 Château Margaux 94.7 Château Margaux Bordeaux, France
54 Rosé Millésime 94.7 Henriot Champagne, France
55 Château de Fargues 94.7 Château de Fargues Sauternes, France
56 Château Palmer 94.6 Château Palmer Bordeaux, France
57 Cristal 94.6 Louis Roederer Champagne, France
58 Château Laville Haut-Brion 94.5 Château Laville Haut-Brion Pessac Leognan, France
59 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 94.5 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Bordeaux, France
60 Batard Montrachet 94.5 Domaine Pierre Morey Burgundy, France
61 Château La Conseillante 94.5 Château La Conseillante Bordeaux, France
62 Hermitage La Chapelle 94.4 Paul Jaboulet & Âiné Rhône, France
63 Belle Epoque 94.3 Perrier-Jouët Champagne, France
64 Château Clerc Milon 94.3 Château Clerc Milon Bordeaux, France
65 Richebourg 94.3 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
66 Krug Collection 94.2 Krug Champagne, France
67 Clos des Goisses 94.1 Philipponnat Champagne, France
68 Cave Privée Rosé 94.0 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne, France
69 Romanee Saint Vivant 94.0 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
70 DT 94.0 Jacquesson Champagne, France
71 Stonewell Shiraz 94.0 Peter Lehmann South Australia, Australia
72 Josmeyer Pinot Gris Selecion de Grains Nobles 94.0 Domaine Josmeyer Alsace, France
73 Sorí San Lorenzo 94.0 Angelo Gaja Barbaresco, Italy
74 Léoville-Las Cases 94.0 Château Léoville-Las Cases Saint-Julien, France
75 Echézeaux 94.0 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
76 Latriciers-Chambertin 94.0 Domaine Leroy Burgundy, France
77 J. Schrahm 94.0 Schramsberg California, United States
78 Clos du Mesnil Vinothèque 94.0 Krug Champagne, France
79 Lafite-Rothschild 94.0 Château Lafite-Rothschild Bordeaux, France
80 Clos de Vougeot 94.0 Meo Camuzet Burgundy, France
81 Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile V.T. 94.0 Trimbach Alsace, France
82 Chapelle-Chambertin 94.0 Domaine Leroy Burgundy, France
83 La Tâche 94.0 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
84 Grands-Echezeaux 94.0 Rene Engel Burgundy, France
85 Bâtard-Montrachet 94.0 Domaine Étienne Sauzet Burgundy, France
86 Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen Riesling Spätlese trocken 94.0 Emmirch-Schönleber Rheingau, Germany
87 Barolo Bric del Fiasc 94.0 Paolo Scavino Piedmont, Italy
88 Cuvée Madame 94.0 Château Coutet Sauternes, France
89 Montrachet 93.9 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
90 Barolo Monprivato 93.9 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo, Italy
91 Cristal Rosé 93.8 Louis Roederer Champagne, France
92 Krug Vintage 93.8 Krug Champagne, France
93 Dominus 93.7 Dominus Estate Napa Valley, United States
94 Meursault Les Rougeots 93.7 Coche Dury Burgundy, France
95 Barolo Villero 93.7 Bruno Giacosa Barolo, Italy
96 La Grande Année 93.5 Bollinger Champagne, France
97 Grands Echézeaux 93.5 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
98 Château Canon 93.5 Château Canon St. Emilion, France
99 Cheval Blanc 93.4 Château Cheval Blanc Bordeaux, France
100 Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles 93.3 Louis Jadot Burgundy, France

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