The Cold War continued to escalate with the USSR detonating very large bombs during testing and then organizing the construction of the Berlin Wall separating East Berlin from West Berlin, America sent a battle group into Germany and the Americans and Russians looked at each other across the border, because of this uncertainty many Americans built fallout shelters in case of nuclear war. To make matters worse, the Americans financed anti-Castro Cubans for a Bay of Pigs invasion that was an absolute disaster. The Soviets sent the first man into space on April 12, Yuri Gagarin, followed by the United States in May with Alan Shepard. Popular music included "Pony Time" by Chubby Checker and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" by the Shirelles, and top films included "West Side Story" and "The Parent Trap."


Popular culture

The farthing coin, used since the 13th century, ceases to be legal tender in the United Kingdom.
British satirical magazine Private Eye is published for the first time
The pony becomes a popular dance
Black and white 5 pound notes cease to be legal tender in the UK

Popular movies

The cannons of Navarone
The parental trap
The distracted teacher
101 Dalmatians
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
El Cid
The Misfits
The scammer
West Side History

Popular television

Gun smoke
Perry Mason
The Red Skelton Show
Andy Griffith
Hidden camera
My three sons
Alfred Hitchcock presents
The Fourth Dimension
Mister Ed (first broadcast October 1961)
The Avengers make their UK debut. But it was not seen in the United States until 1965.





1961 - the greatest Bordeaux vintage of all time?

I am writing this during the primeur campaign and I notice that Bordeaux château owners and merchants have been exceptionally quiet this year. I've been following this part of the market remotely for almost 30 years now and have been told about a lot of the "vintages of the century". Once wines are bottled and sold or vice versa, as is the case in Bordeaux, these claims tend to be changed.

Who are the serious contenders for the title of “The Greatest Vintage Ever”?

During the 19th century there were a number of vintages with great reputations made from pre-phylloxera vines. These include the legendary "Vintage Comet" 1811, 1864, 1865, 1870, 1893, 1895 and 1899. Most are too old for anyone now alive to have tasted them in their prime.

During the 20th century, claims were raised for the vintages 1900, 1921, 1929, 1945, 1947, 1949 (by me), 1959, 1961, 1982, 1989 and 1990.In the current century already three of the eight vintages produced – 2000, 2003 and 2005 – were mentioned by an overly excited press as candidates for the title, as well as the superb duo - 2009 and 2010.

In the book “The 1,000 Best Wines Ever Made” 1961 is the Bordeaux vintage most often mentioned, with 22 châteaux. 1945 is mentioned 19 times, 1947 16 times, 1982 14 times and 1959 13 times.

What is the definition of a great wine?

It’s a wine that has an extra dimension giving you an unforgettable drinking experience – in other words, a “Wow!” effect. ". It is a wine that has a long drinking life. It should be good to drink young, but it should also be able to age for a long time without losing its appeal. A good vintage produces wines that meet these requirements.

A great vintage, however, is equally good in all major regions of Bordeaux, both on the left bank and the right bank. It’s also a vintage where something special was produced in every appellation, from the lowest Cru Bourgeois to the most powerful Premier Cru.

1961 meets these requirements better than any other vintage.

This was the vintage where the most incompetent winemaker simply couldn't make a bad wine and the wines drank very well at an early stage; In most cases, they still do this today.

Some extremely impressive wines were produced in 1945, but these came primarily from the Left Bank and many of the wines had excessively high tannin levels, making them increasingly dry as they aged.

1947 produced the most amazing Right Bank wines, but many Left Bank wines had problems with volatile acidity.

1959 has produced a number of wines that are on the same level and sometimes even a bit higher than the corresponding '61, and some experienced wine critics like Michel Bettane prefer 1959 to 1961. But 1959 does not have the same consistent quality at all levels.

1982 undoubtedly produced a lot of very impressive wines but I have the impression that the Right Bank wines lack structure and have not aged very well and that very few Margaux and Médoc wines have had a great success. The twin vintages of 1989 and 1990, or 2009 and 2010 may come closest in overall quality, but it is still too early to judge their aging capabilities.


What made 1961 so special?

It was a very small harvest, the smallest since World War II. This was partly due to coulure (cold weather at flowering) and in some parts due to frost on the night of May 30-31, together reducing the yield per plant to about a third of the usual size at that time. period (which, compared to today's harvests, seems tiny). This concentrated the minerals and power of the vine among the few remaining grapes and was the reason for the success of minor châteaux, which would normally produce much higher yields than would be good for their wines.

August and September were hot and extremely dry. This drought meant that maturation took longer than the 100 days usually prescribed. The harvest was delayed until September 22, but benefited from perfect conditions. Thanks to better aging techniques, winemakers avoid the harsh tannins of 1945 and the volatility of 1947. The wines have a very deep color, an attractive nose and a ripe, concentrated and full-bodied fruitiness, with sufficient tannins and acidity to give the wines structure and freshness.

I organized a large tasting of over sixty years from 1961 to 1989 and all the wines were very good, even from small châteaux




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The 1961 vintage in Champagne is celebrated as an exceptional year that yielded wines of outstanding quality and finesse. In this vintage report, we will delve into the key characteristics and highlights of the 1961 Champagne wines.

Weather Conditions: The weather conditions in Champagne during the 1961 growing season were instrumental in shaping the extraordinary character of the vintage. The year began with a mild winter, followed by a spring that brought ideal conditions for flowering. Summer was warm with consistent sunshine, allowing the grapes to ripen slowly and steadily. The weather remained favorable throughout the harvest season, resulting in grapes of exceptional quality.

The 1961 Champagne vintage is widely regarded as one of the greatest in the 20th century. These Champagnes are known for their remarkable aging potential and complexity.

Appearance: The 1961 Champagnes typically exhibit a pale golden hue with a fine and persistent effervescence, showcasing their freshness and vitality even after many years of aging.

Nose: On the nose, the 1961 Champagnes offer a captivating bouquet with aromas of citrus zest, white flowers, and hints of toasted brioche. There is a pronounced minerality that adds depth and complexity to the aromatic profile.

Palate: In the mouth, the 1961 Champagnes are marked by their remarkable depth, finesse, and balance. The bubbles are finely integrated, providing a creamy and luxurious mouthfeel. The acidity remains vibrant, lending a refreshing quality to the wines. Flavors of ripe orchard fruits, honeyed notes, and subtle nuttiness intermingle harmoniously. These wines are exceptionally well-balanced, showcasing the elegance and longevity for which Champagne is renowned.

Overall Impressions: The Champagne 1961 vintage is considered a legendary year in the region's history. These wines have aged gracefully and continue to captivate wine enthusiasts with their complexity and character. They are a testament to the exceptional winemaking prowess of Champagne and offer a timeless experience for those fortunate enough to encounter a bottle from this vintage.

For collectors and connoisseurs, the 1961 Champagne wines represent a pinnacle of excellence in the world of sparkling wine. They are a reminder of the enduring appeal and enduring quality that Champagne is known for and serve as a benchmark for exceptional vintages in the region.

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A short crop and the passage of time have made these wines extremely difficult to come by. When found, however, the wines are delicate and bright, yet fully mature. The vintage was characterized by extreme spring frosts, a steadily warm summer, and rain during harvest.


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Australia / A hot, dry year with growing season rainfall well below average (despite a wet April), 1961 produced some very good red wines.

Kaiser Stuhl introduced a hermetically sealed continuous centrifuge, the first large automatic desludging centrifuge.

Hermann Paul Leopold (Leo) Buring died aged 86. Leo Buring Holdings Ltd (a public company) was taken over by Lindeman Holdings the following year.

Penfolds introduced its first Rosé labelled “Vin Rosé”.

Wolfgang Blass arrives at Kaiser Stuhl in his green Volkswagen to oversee the creation of a new wine Sparkling Rhinegolde.

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In Italy, 1961 wine is considered to be one of the greatest vintages of the 20th century. The wines from Piedmont (Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbara) and Tuscany (Chianti, Brunello) are outstanding. The wines are now fully mature and, with careful cellaring, will still keep for many years to come.

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Vintage Report

At Château Latour, the winter was very rainy with a very hot February, and growth starting from the first days, that is to say a month earlier. The first half of March was very hot and the first leaves were noted on March 10. Growth accelerated, but there were frosts at the end of March and intense cold on the 25th and 29th. The month of April was unstable and mostly cold: growth slowed. Very abundant fruiting was noted. The first flowers appeared on May 12, but the fine daytime weather was followed by cold nights. May 27 and 28 were cold and on May 29, in full bloom, disaster struck. The flowers were frozen, the sterile grapes dried immediately afterwards. Three-quarters of the harvest was given up as lost. Flowering failure was confirmed. There had never been frost in May.

July was not good overall; Overcast with no rain and no sun. The first three weeks of August were also covered with temperatures below average and clearly insufficient. There wasn't enough sun either. The vineyard lacked both water and sun. It was a kind of cold drought. The temperature increased at the end of August. The sun shone brightly with gusts of warm wind on the vineyards which needed no further drying. The good weather sets in on August 24 and continues without interruption until September 28, almost as dry as in 1949. It rained on September 29 and 30. Harvest from September 19 to 28. It was very hot, which caused problems with winemaking. Yields were very low, as expected, so the harvest was short.

Vintage quality and tasting comments

The notes taken at the second round stage predicted a great wine. It was clean, colorful, very rich, very ripe, very roasted, very fatty. The colors were enormous, the likes of which we hadn't seen in a long time. Today, the wine has a very deep color, still intense. The nose displays very complex scents of noble cedar, tar, mint, but still a little closed (let it breathe in the glass). The palate is phenomenal, still full of fruit, long backbone, incredibly concentrated and very well balanced. The tannins have a real “grip” in the mouth, without any aggressiveness. Endless finishing. A wine for “connoisseurs” probably more difficult to understand today (2000) than the 1959.

Quality: Exceptional year

The time to drink optimally and serve optimally

Even though we are talking about a wine over 35 years old, it is still barely at its optimum and will get even better. It is quite safe to say that this wine can be kept at its optimum for another 20 years. We promise to update these tasting notes by 2020...

Keep the bottle upright for at least half a day to settle the sediment to the bottom of the bottle. Then, slowly pour the wine into a carafe to get rid of this sediment, keep it in the carafe for at least 2 hours to aerate and serve.



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1961 vintage by Château Margaux / It has sometimes been said that 1961 was the greatest vintage since 1900. Our memory does not always serve us well, but there is no doubt that this vintage displays quite extraordinary qualities, which we were not to find again, in any case, until the 1982 vintage. 1961 not only benefited from remarkable weather conditions, but also from the first achievements of what was called \modern oenology\" under the inspiration of Professor Ribereau Gayon and Doctor Emile Peynaud. Château Margaux 1961 is a sumptuous wine, at the same time tender, harmonious, rich, very dense and full of freshness. Its bouquet is unique : over the smell of undergrowth, so characteristic of the great wines of that era, comes a layer of indescribable fruity and floral fragrance... Smelling this wine is a moment of unforgettable excitement, of pure emotion! The sensations that come through on the palate are a harmonious match to the aromatic festival on the nose : its tannic density asserts itself smoothly and delicately, the finish is a strong and yet tender caress. A really wonderful wine. Today, the 1961 has lost none of its freshness, even though the magnums are starting to show more consistency than the bottles. Of course, it can be opened now, but it was built for eternity... (May 2010)

A sharp spring frost and exceptional "coulure" due to an intensely cold spell at the end of May drastically reduced the crop size. Then, the wonderful weather conditions during the summer, which was particularly dry and hot, enabled this small crop to reach really extraordinary ripeness and concentration. (The picking began 19th September)

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The best wines of the 1961 vintage

Name Tb Producer Location
1 Hermitage La Chapelle 100 Paul Jaboulet & Âiné Rhône, France
2 Château Latour 100 Château Latour Bordeaux, France
3 Château Palmer 100 Château Palmer Bordeaux, France
4 Château Mouton-Rothschild 100 Château Mouton-Rothschild Bordeaux, France
5 Pétrus 100 Château Pétrus Pomerol, France
6 Château Haut-Brion 100 Château Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
7 Trotanoy 100 Château Trotanoy Bordeaux, France
8 Salon 100 Salon Champagne, France
9 Cristal 100 Louis Roederer Champagne, France
10 Château Trottevieille 100 Château Trottevieille Bordeaux, France
11 Oenothèque 100 Salon Champagne, France
12 Château Margaux 99 Château Margaux Bordeaux, France
13 La Mission Haut Brion 99 Château La Mission Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
14 Latour-à-Pomerol 99 Château Latour-à-Pomerol Bordeaux, France
15 Lafleur 99 Château Lafleur Bordeaux, France
16 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou 99 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou Bordeaux, France
17 Krug Collection 99 Krug Champagne, France
18 Millésime Vinothéque 99 Diebolt-Vallois Champagne, France
19 Grands Echezeaux 99 Domaine Denis Mortet Burgundy, France
20 Gevrey Chambertin Combottes 99 Pierre Ponnelle Burgundy, France
21 Dom Pérignon 98 Moët & Chandon Champagne, France
22 Cheval Blanc 98 Château Cheval Blanc Bordeaux, France
23 Krug Vintage 98 Krug Champagne, France
24 Comtes de Champagne 98 Taittinger Champagne, France
25 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 98 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Bordeaux, France
26 Vieux Chateau Certan 98 Vieux Château Certan Bordeaux, France
27 Cuvée Florens-Louis 98 Piper-Heidsieck Champagne, France
28 Château Suduiraut 98 Château Suduiraut Bordeaux, France
29 Château Clinet 98 Château Clinet Bordeaux, France
30 Chateau La Tour Haut Brion 98 Château La Tour Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
31 Clos de Tart 98 Mommessin Burgundy, France
32 Château Giscours 98 Château Giscours Bordeaux, France
33 Crème de tête 98 Château Gilette Bordeaux, France
34 Grands Echézeaux 98 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
35 Château L´Evangile 97 Château L´Evangile Pomerol, France
36 Barolo Monfortino Riserva 97 Giacomo Conterno Piedmont, Italy
37 Vintage Rosé 97 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne, France
38 Chevalier-Montrachet 97 Domaine Leflaive Burgundy, France
39 Pierre Ponnelle Gevrey Chambertin 97 Pierre Ponnelle Burgundy, France
40 Château Lagrange 97 Château Lagrange Bordeaux, France
41 Vintage Rosé 97 Louis Roederer Champagne, France
42 Brut Impérial 97 Moët & Chandon Champagne, France
43 Châteauneuf-du-Pape 97 Château de Beaucastel Rhône, France
44 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 97 Charles Krug Winery Napa Valley, United States
45 Château Léoville Poyferré 97 Château Léoville Poyferré Bordeaux, France
46 Batard-Montrachet 97 Domaine Ramonet Burgundy, France
47 Vintage 97 Gosset Champagne, France
48 Red label vintage 97 Lanson Champagne, France
49 Grand Cru 97 Pommery Champagne, France
50 Château Lagrange 97 Château Lagrange Pomerol Bordeaux, France
51 Château de Villegeorge 97 Château de Villegeorge Bordeaux, France
52 Brut Royal 97 Pommery Champagne, France
53 Château La Conseillante 97 Château La Conseillante Bordeaux, France
54 Lafite-Rothschild 96 Château Lafite-Rothschild Bordeaux, France
55 Château Gruaud-Larose 96 Château Gruaud-Larose Bordeaux, France
56 R.D. Bollinger 96 Bollinger Champagne, France
57 Château Ausone 96 Château Ausone Bordeaux, France
58 Vintage 96 Moët & Chandon Champagne, France
59 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste 96 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste Bordeaux, France
60 Château Angelus 96 Château Angelus Bordeaux, France
61 Richebourg 96 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
62 Pol Roger vintage 96 Pol Roger Champagne, France
63 Château Smith Haut Lafitte 96 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Bordeaux, France
64 Chateau Certan de May 96 Château Certan de May Bordeaux, France
65 Château Marquis De Terme 96 Château Marquis De Terme Bordeaux, France
66 Château Canon-La-Gaffelière 96 Château Canon-La-Gaffelière Bordeaux, France
67 Barolo 96 Giacomo Conterno Piedmont, Italy
68 Vintage 96 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne, France
69 Naudes 96 Château Canon-La-Gaffelière Bordeaux, France
70 Vintage Champagne 96 Bollinger Champagne, France
71 Château Laville Haut-Brion 96 Château Laville Haut-Brion Pessac Leognan, France
72 Cuvée William Deutz 96 Deutz Champagne, France
73 Niepoort Garrafeira 96 Niepoort Douro, Portugal
74 Châteauneuf-du-Pape 96 Château Rayas Rhône, France
75 Château Pape Clément 96 Château Pape Clément Bordeaux, France
76 Barolo Kiola 96 Batasiolo Cuneo, Italy
77 Grands Echezeaux 96 Domaine Leroy Burgundy, France
78 Mumm Rosé 96 G.H. Mumm Champagne, France
79 Chasse Spleen 96 Château Chasse-Spleen Bordeaux, France
80 Brut Millésimé 96 G.H. Mumm Champagne, France
81 Cuvée M 33 96 Mercier Champagne, France
82 Château Magdelaine 96 Château Magdelaine Bordeaux, France
83 Comtes de Champagne Vinothèque 96 Taittinger Champagne, France
84 L'Eglise-Clinet 96 Château L'Eglise-Clinet Bordeaux, France
85 Vintage 96 Taittinger Champagne, France
86 Château Canon 96 Château Canon Bordeaux, France
87 Bonnes Mares Grand Cru 96 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Burgundy, France
88 Montrose 95 Château Montrose Bordeaux, France
89 Romanée Conti 95 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
90 Château Cos d'Estournel 95 Château Cos d'Estournel Bordeaux, France
91 Château Doisy-Daene 95 Château Doisy-Daëne Bordeaux, France
92 Clos St-Denis Grand Cru 95 Domaine Cortochot Burgundy, France
93 La Gaffelière 95 Château La Gaffelière Bordeaux, France
94 Chassagne-Montrachet "Les Ruchottes" 95 Domaine Ramonet Burgundy, France
95 Barolo Riserva 95 Gaja Barbaresco, Italy
96 Côte-Rôtie Les Jumelles 95 Paul Jaboulet & Âiné Rhône, France
97 Château Nenin 95 Château Nenin Bordeaux, France
98 Brut Millésime 95 Deutz Champagne, France
99 L' Empereur Blanc de Blancs 95 Unknown producer Champagne, France
100 Domaine de Chevalier 94 Domaine de Chevalier Pessac Leognan, France
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