On the blessed year 1964 – the same year Reverend Dr. Martin Luther was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace and the Beatles became worldwide superstars – in the South-West French vineyards, a great vintage was in sight. In September 1964, French viticulture overall was in full excitement thanks to the admirable weather conditions which had extended so far into the growing season. This general enthusiasm even motivated the former Agricultural Minister to declare and forecast 1964 as “ Vintage of the century ” before any grapes were picked. And everything was going great until October 8th, when heavy rain suddenly broke out in a deluge. Actually, it poured non-stop for weeks…
In fact, if we look closely, the harvest conditions favored the Right Bank, (Graves, Pomerol and St. Emilion), where growers harvested early and, in majority, picked before the heavy rains. The very good wines are numerous around there: at Cheval Blanc this is a great vintage – the best since the ’56 frost – and this wine can really be sublime. Château Ausone was successful too, producing some opulent, concentrated wine with high alcohol, an opaque color, great length and unbridled power.
On the Left bank, despite of the rain, some top-flight Château produced some fine, medium-bodied red wines that are still drinking well. Because Château Latour was one of the few producers on the Left Bank to harvest before the rains, Latour was probably the best wine in Medoc, closely followed by Beychevelle in St. Julien, Montrose in St. Estèphe and La Mission Haut Brion in Pessac-Léognan. Lafite Rothschild – even if not a classic success example from this vintage – has still much to offer and expresses deep color, nicely mature bouquet, with ample plum, cherry and enjoyable spice flavors.
1964 is arguably a vintage to discover, as it can offer magnificent surprises in the Bordeaux vineyard. It really is worth looking out for !
Our “All the way to Rhinos” Wine o’clock will start on Tuesday 29th of November at 2pm on the dot, Swiss time. Be on time – it will go fast and us Swiss don’t mess with time (nor Rhinos) !