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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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Bordeaux

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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Burgundy

Burgundy: A record crop of magnificent wines, legendary and still very good. Full but soft-textured.  After a number of difficult vintages and small crops, finally a great vintage arrived with the rare combination of sufficient quantity and high quality. 

An ideal spring flowering was followed by hot and dry weather in July and August. Showers refreshed the vines and on 14 September the harvest commenced under clear skies. 

Great, charming wines of rich, ripe fruit balancing the structured tannins. Still with a long life ahead.

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Australia

Australia / A cool dry growing season with average rainfall produced “strong” reds despite the challenge of a wet February and March.

In 1959 there were 7,171 hectares of vineyards in Barossa and 29,030 tonnes of wine grapes were crushed in that vintage.

Muscat Gordo was still South Australia’s “most used” wine grape. As well as being used for dried raisin and table grape consumption it was a mainstay of the fortified wine industry.

The first fully automatic sterile bottling line, capable of processing 200 dozen bottles per hour, was commissioned at Orlando by Henry Deinhardt.

John Vickery and Reg Shipster pioneered skin cooling methods at Leo Buring’s Chateau Leonay winery. This was the first attempt at cool fermentation and paved the way for improving the quality of red and white wines.

Peter Lehmann was appointed winemaker-manager at Saltram Wines.

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Vintage Report

“From the Golden Slope of Burgundy to the chateaux of Bordeaux, 1959 will be remembered not as the year of De Gaulle and Algeria but as the year of the Great Wine,” declared Time magazine. “A boon to the grapes, and not only has it been a great year in quality, but in quantity as year,” wrote the influential humorist Art Buchwald. With an exceptional summer, it appeared that nineteen fifty-nine was turning into something truly remarkable across the vineyards of Bordeaux. And brilliantly capitalizing on all of this free publicity, French winemakers ceremoniously dubbed it “The Vintage of the Century,” a title that unleashed a wine renaissance throughout the United States.

For the Bordelais, the good news couldn’t have come at a better time. The previous year had produced a small harvest and the year before was so bad that France was actually forced to import wine. In terms of quality, the vintages of the late 1950s were so awful that many in the newly created Fifth Republic chose beer instead of wine when visiting the local watering hole. Back in America, a young enthusiast named Robert M. Parker Jr. concurred when tasting a bottle of 1957 Château Lafite-Rothschild. Remarking it “tastes like cat piss,” Parker learned that with no rating system, first-growth Bordeaux’s like Lafite could easily coast on their reputation despite having such a subpar product.

But with news about the vintage of the century spreading like wildfire, American wine drinkers finally decided to enter the marketplace in a big way. During the 1950s, as oenophile culture started to gain steam on the east coast, the train of thought was that French wine was the undisputed gold standard. And with a devaluation of the franc ordered by Charles De Gaulle, U.S. dollars could now snatch up a sizable chunk of Bordeaux’s exports, which for seven and a half centuries had been dominated by the British.

For those who took advantage of the situation, they would not be disappointed. Michael Broadbent described the 1959 Château Lafite as “one of the best-ever Lafites … mammoth. And superb” while calling the Château Latour: “Glorious … perfect enough to keep on maturing for another quarter century.” According to Parker, “The wines do display the effects of having been made in a class, hot, dry year, with just enough rain to keep the vineyards from being stressed. They are full bodied, extremely alcoholic, and opulent, with high degrees of tannin and extract.”

So long before terms like ‘vintage of the century’ had been used ad nauseam, the marketing slogan proved to be a resounding success in places like New York and Washington D.C. By 1961, the price of first-growths had more than quadrupled with Americans for the first time becoming the principal buyers. Adding to these soaring prices was a futures market—something that would have been unheard of in the United States a decade before—making many British customers irate. Describing the mood in England during this time, author Elin McCoy writes, “The international market was now being built on these high prices, and if the Americans dropped out it would surely crash. Who else but the Americans would pay so much money for wine?”

Looking back at the craze over the vintage of the century, many wine writers believe that 1959 didn’t live up to its hype, especially when compared to 1961. However, no one can deny the impact that this vintage had on buying habits in the United States, signaling a seismic shift in the export market for French wines that is still felt to this day.

By Joseph Temple

 

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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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The best wines of the 1959 vintage

Name Tb Producer Location
1 Lafite-Rothschild 100 Château Lafite-Rothschild Bordeaux, France
2 Château Mouton-Rothschild 100 Château Mouton-Rothschild Bordeaux, France
3 Château Haut-Brion 100 Château Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
4 La Tâche 100 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
5 Krug Collection 100 Krug Champagne, France
6 Château Latour 99 Château Latour Bordeaux, France
7 L'Eglise-Clinet 99 Château L'Eglise-Clinet Bordeaux, France
8 Richebourg 99 Domaine Leroy Burgundy, France
9 La Mission Haut Brion 99 Château La Mission Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
10 Krug Vintage 99 Krug Champagne, France
11 Trotanoy 99 Château Trotanoy Bordeaux, France
12 Latour-à-Pomerol 98 Château Latour-à-Pomerol Bordeaux, France
13 d'Yquem 98 Château d'Yquem Bordeaux, France
14 Cheval Blanc 98 Château Cheval Blanc Bordeaux, France
15 Steinberger Riesling Edelbeerenauslese 98 Kloster Eberbach Rheingau, Germany
16 Cuvée des Enchanteleurs 98 Champagne Henriot Champagne, France
17 Clos des Goisses L.V. 98 Philipponnat Champagne, France
18 Bonnes Mares Grand Cru 98 Domaine Georges Roumier Burgundy, France
19 Chateau La Tour Haut Brion 98 Château La Tour Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
20 Hermitage La Chapelle 98 Paul Jaboulet & Âiné Rhône, France
21 Chambertin 98 Domaine Armand Rousseau Burgundy, France
22 Chambertin 98 Domaine Leroy Burgundy, France
23 Carte d´Or Brut Champagne 98 Drappier Champagne, France
24 Blanc de Blancs 98 Pol Roger Champagne, France
25 Hochheimer Domdechaney Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 97 Kloster Eberbach Rheingau, Germany
26 Corton 97 Maison Louis Latour Burgundy, France
27 Château Suduiraut 97 Château Suduiraut Bordeaux, France
28 Château de Figeac 97 Château de Figeac Bordeaux, France
29 Vinothèque 97 Paul Bara Champagne, France
30 Grands Echézeaux 97 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
31 Steinberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 97 Kloster Eberbach Rheingau, Germany
32 Salon 97 Salon Champagne, France
33 Château Margaux 97 Château Margaux Bordeaux, France
34 Romanée Conti 97 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
35 Cristal 97 Louis Roederer Champagne, France
36 Richebourg 97 Domaine Jean Gros Burgundy, France
37 Musigny Vieilles Vignes 97 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Burgundy, France
38 Richebourg 97 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
39 Carte d'Or 97 Drappier Champagne, France
40 Dom Pérignon Rosé 97 Moët & Chandon Champagne, France
41 Montrose 97 Château Montrose Bordeaux, France
42 Lafleur 97 Château Lafleur Bordeaux, France
43 Dom Pérignon Oenothèque 97 Moët & Chandon Champagne, France
44 Vina Real Gran Reserva 96 C.V.N.E /Cune Rioja, Spain
45 Scharzhofberger Auslese 96 Weingut Egon Müller-Scharzhof Saar, Germany
46 Vintage 96 Charles Heidsieck Champagne, France
47 Pétrus 96 Château Pétrus Pomerol, France
48 Pol Roger vintage 96 Pol Roger Champagne, France
49 Grand Brut 96 Perrier-Jouët Champagne, France
50 Château Cos d'Estournel 96 Château Cos d'Estournel Bordeaux, France
51 Château L´Evangile 96 Château L´Evangile Pomerol, France
52 Musigny 96 Bouchard Père & Fils Burgundy, France
53 Bual 96 Blandy's Madeira, Portugal
54 Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey 96 Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey Bordeaux, France
55 Château Gruaud-Larose 96 Château Gruaud-Larose Bordeaux, France
56 Steinberger Riesling Beerenauslese 96 Kloster Eberbach Rheingau, Germany
57 Vintage 96 Pommery Champagne, France
58 Château Troplong-Mondot 96 Château Troplong-Mondot Bordeaux, France
59 Vieux Chateau Certan 96 Vieux Château Certan Bordeaux, France
60 Unico 95 Bodegas Vega Sicilia Ribera el Duero, Spain
61 Clos de Tart 95 Mommessin Burgundy, France
62 Musigny 95 Louis Jadot Burgundy, France
63 Clos des Goisses 95 Philipponnat Champagne, France
64 Assmannshäuser Höllenberg Cabinet 95 Kloster Eberbach Rheingau, Germany
65 Léoville-Las Cases 95 Château Léoville-Las Cases Saint-Julien, France
66 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva 95 Bodegas Marques de Murrieta Rioja, Spain
67 Château Palmer 95 Château Palmer Bordeaux, France
68 Dom Ruinart 95 Ruinart Champagne, France
69 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste 95 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste Bordeaux, France
70 Château Doisy-Daene 95 Château Doisy-Daëne Bordeaux, France
71 Comtes de Champagne 95 Taittinger Champagne, France
72 Chateau Lynch-Bages 94 Château Lynch-Bages Pauillac, France
73 Vouvray Le Haut-Lieu Moelleux 94 Domaine Huet Loire, France
74 Millésimé 94 Charles Heidsieck Champagne, France
75 Brut Impérial 94 Moët & Chandon Champagne, France
76 Château Calon Ségur 94 Château Calon-Ségur Bordeaux, France
77 Château Canon 94 Château Canon Bordeaux, France
78 Chateau Leoville-Barton 94 Château Leoville-Barton Bordeaux, France
79 Bonnes Mares 94 Domaine Clair-Dau Burgundy, France
80 Château Coutet 94 Château Coutet Sauternes, France
81 Dom Pérignon 94 Moët & Chandon Champagne, France
82 Corton 94 Domaine Leroy Burgundy, France
83 Richebourg 94 Patriarche Père & Fils France, France
84 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou 94 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou Bordeaux, France
85 Steinberger Riesling Spätlese 94 Kloster Eberbach Rheingau, Germany
86 Chateau Certan de May 93 Château Certan de May Bordeaux, France
87 Château Ausone 93 Château Ausone Bordeaux, France
88 Hill of Grace 93 Henschke Eden Valley, Australia
89 Vintage 93 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne, France
90 Musigny 93 Domaine Jacques Prieur Burgundy, France
91 Musigny 93 Domaine Joseph Faiveley Burgundy, France
92 Château Brane-Cantenac 93 Château Brane-Cantenac Bordeaux, France
93 Chambertin Clos de Bèze 93 Domaine Joseph Faiveley Burgundy, France
94 890 Gran Reserva 93 La Rioja Alta Rioja, Spain
95 Cabernet Sauvignon Cask 25 93 Buena Vista Winery Napa Valley, United States
96 Steinberger Cabinet 92 Kloster Eberbach Rheingau, Germany
97 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron 92 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron Bordeaux, France
98 Château Smith Haut Lafitte 92 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Bordeaux, France
99 Charmes-Chambertin 92 Domaine Bourgeot Burgundy, France
100 Richebourg 92 Domaine Bourgeot Burgundy, France

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