Tom Cannavan's   

anniversary vintage chart

This guide is for people wishing to purchase a special bottle to commemorate a noteable anniversary. Please remember that with old wines there really are no guarantees: even a top wine from a top vintage can be ruined by poor storage. The broad summaries below are for top Bordeaux, but where other areas had a particularly good vintage these are noted.

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1900 Excellent Bordeaux. Will cost a fortune.

1901 Uneven vintage.

1902 Bordeaux and white Bordeaux good.

1903 Poor Claret but very good for Sauternes.

1904 Excellent year in Bordeaux.

1905 Very good year in Bordeaux, but scarce.

1906 Excellent vintage of well-structured wines.
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The 1910's
The 1920's
The 1930's
The 1940's
The 1950's
The 1960's
The 1970's
The 1980's
The 1990's
The 2000's

1907 Large and good quality vintage.

1908 Good vintage.

1909 Moderate to good Bordeaux, but almost certainly past it.

1910 Very good vintage all round, tipped for Armagnac and Cognac.

1911 Poor Bordeaux vintage. Spirits like Armagnac probably safer.

1912 Average vintage, but some good Bordeaux. Excellent Port.

1913 Another poor to moderate vintage for Bordeaux.

1914 Excellent vintage for Bordeaux, but again a small crop.

1915 War time in France, so very little wine available.

1916 Average year and always tannic. Unlikely to be great drinking now.

1917 Bordeaux had a good vintage, but still war time so not much about.

1918 Excellent vintage.

1919 Good vintage but earlier drinking style, so not a lot has survived.

1920 Fine vintage in Bordeaux. Top wines should be very good.

1921 Big, hot vintage produced profound wines, so may have lasted well.

1922 Poor year.

1923 Average year.

1924 A great vintage and reputedly still drinking very well.

1925 Another deemed as 'early drinking', so scarce and may not have lasted.

1926 Great Bordeaux vintage; top Burgundies may have some interest.

1927 Sauternes a better bet than Claret, but excellent Port.

1928 Very good Bordeaux.

1929 Superb vintage. The Latour is renowned, but will cost a packet.

1930 Poor Bordeaux year, so back to Cognac and Armagnac once more.

1931 Poor year again except excellent Port.

1932 Three strikes in a row; a very poor year indeed.

1933 Better, but a small crop and scarce.

1934 Very good indeed. I recently drunk a lovely Duhart-Milon Rothschild '34.

1935 Decent Bordeaux, very good red Burgundy, Great Port.

1936 Good to very good vintage in general throughout Europe.

1937 Good vintage.

1938 Another good year, but not renowned for staying power.

1939 Start of the war years, so production and supply was disrupted.

1940 Very good Bordeaux, short supply.

1941 Poor year.

1942 Average year.

1943 The best of the war-time vintages.

1944 Average Claret, better Sauternes.

1945 Fabulous vintage. Candidate for 'vintage of the century', including Port.

1946 A decent year, always in the shadow of 1945.

1947 Another superb, legendary year for Bordeaux and Burgundy.

1948 Poor to moderate year, except VG Port.

1949 Third of a truly great 1940's trio. Finest Burgundies of the century?

1950 Good vintage, even better for the top wines. VG Port.

1951 Not a great vintage.

1952 Fine year, with the right bank (St-Emilion and Pomerol) on top form.

1953 An excellent vintage in Bordeaux and throughout Europe.

1954 Average vintage, will need luck to find good drinking.

1955 Another average vintage, though Burgundy did better and VG for Port.

1956 Very poor year.

1957 A little better than 1956, but unlikely to have survived

1958 A very good year that could surprise if bottles have been well stored.

1959 This is another top-notch vintage, one of the century's best.

1960 A decent but light vintage. Most wines past it. Port good but fading.

1961 Vintage of the century? A recent Smith Haut-Lafitte was stunning.

1962 In the shadow of '61, but a great year. I've had
some lovely '62s.

1963 Poor year, wines past their best except excellent Port.

1964 A very good vintage that has drunk well throughout, so now scarce.

1965 Poor weather led to a poor year.

1966 Fine year. I have drunk several great wines from 1966. VG Port.

1967 Pick and choose, but Claret not great; Sauternes better.

1968 Poor to moderate year.

1969 Poor in Bordeaux, but very good in Burgundy.

1970 Great for Port, top wines only now in Bordeaux, Rhône and California

1971 Great in Germany, some good Bordeaux and Loire stickies.

1972 Most fading or past it. Top Rhônes best of bunch possibly

1973 Good in Germany, and still great top wines, but fading

1974 Mostly past it. Top Piedmont, Tuscany & Rioja possibly

1975 Some Bordeaux, Sauternes, Germany, Champagne still good. A few Ports

1976 Germany (especially sweetest), Californian Cabs, some Champagne

1977 Top Port year, all long-lived. Bordeaux mostly past it.

1978 Top Rhônes are stars, California Cabs, Barolo, some Bordeaux and Port

1979 Some Bordeaux still good, top Barolo excellent

1980 A poor year in most of Europe and past it. California & Australia better

1981 Wines fading, but some Rioja and Bordeaux still very good

1982 Bordeaux superb, elsewhere patchy; some Champagne, Barolo, Port

1983 Bordeaux fading, but top wines still great, good Port and Germany

1984 Poor year, now generally all past it.

1985 Lovely year in Bordeaux, Port & Champagne, top Burgundy still good

1986 Great, long-lived Bordeaux and Sauternes, top Californian and Australia

1987 Not good most of Europe or Australia, but Californian Cabs very good

1988 Excellent Sauternes, good Bordeaux, Champagne

1989 Excellent Bordeaux, Sauternes, Rhône, Germany, Barolo & Champagne

1990 Great year for Europe, Port not declared, OK in California & Australia

1991 Europe all very risky, though Port declared and very good in California

1992 Another poor European vintage, though excellent Ports

1993 Slightly better in Europe, though no long keepers. Choose carefully

1994 Bordeaux right bank best, Germany, Port, California all good

1995 Very good Bordeaux, Rhone, red Burgundy and consider Rioja

1996 Very good Bordeaux, Piedmont, Ribera del Duero & Australia

1997 Forward european year, so dangerous. Piedmont & Tuscany excellent

1998 Top right bank Bordeaux year, also southern Rhone, Piedmont, Australia

1999 Solid year across Europe, Italy VG, poor in California

2000 Millennium fever means high prices, but most European wines VGI

2001 Good right bank, superb Sauternes, also Southern Rhone, Italy, Spain

2002 Challenging. Burgundy, Australia & California best bets. Port declared

2003 Extreme heat raises question marks. Best: Bordeaux, Rhone, California

2004 Pretty good Bordeaux and Rhone, Italy, Germany & Spain better

2005 Potentially great year across Europe, Australia and California