Thursday, April 1, 2010

Celebrating the 1981 Vintage!

Well another year has passed and I just turned 29! This year was rather significant I must admit especially vinously speaking. I have graduated from my WSET Diploma, I managed to get into the MSc in Wine Business program and here I am in Burgundy surrounded by the best Grand Crus, tasting some great wines not only from Burgundy but from all corners of the world. Fascinating really, how wine helps you travel and discover different cultures, people, thoughts, point of views and much more. Therefore on my 29th Birthday I consider myself a very lucky girl who is living her dream and who is day dreaming with her eyes open with every pop of the cork. For this I want to greatly thank my parents to have made it all possible for me, my sister and all you good friends reading this post. Also, I want to thank Pierre Felter for the great help he gave me with starting this blog.

Now on to wine... How was the 1981 vintage really? Am I a wine to age, ready to drink now or past its best?


Not an easy year for producers, with extremely challenging growing conditions. A very mild spring produced forward vine development but this proved to be a headache as frosts in April and hail in May severely reduced the potential size of the crop. Small quantities of wines were produced with the vast majority being used for blending. However, even smaller quantities of soft, elegant and surprisingly stylish vintage wines were produced, maybe that’s where I get my sparkle from!. All the vintage Champagnes are now fully mature, am I? I wonder.

In any case, seemslike I’d better open my Bollinger 1981 RD. I can only imagine the lovely full mature aromas intermingled with the yeasty character which is always so present in vintage champagne.

Red Burgundy

1981 was one of the smallest wine vintages in living memory for Burgundy and a year in which growers` wits and tempers were stretched to new limits as the weather and growing conditions were some of the most challenging ever witnessed. The majority of growers struggled to produce wines of any quality. The finest domains were able to stagger their harvests and were able to discard rotten and unripe fruit from their final cuvées. Miraculously, a handful of the best producers produced some noteworthy wines which are now fully mature and are marked by an intriguing complexity, . Am I intriguing? Complex? Both?

Red Bordeaux

A small crop produced a somewhat underrated vintage that has suffered in reputation by being followed by the legendary 1982 vintage. The wines were somewhat diluted by rain during the harvest and are leaner than the 1982s or 1983s but tend to be deeper in colour and body than the 1979s.
The best wines are stylish, elegant and well-balanced, with Pomerol, St Julien and Pauillac being the most successful communes. They are all completely mature now. A classic Bordeaux vintage for a classic Maltese girl.
I have a couple of these sleeping in my cellar, given to me as a Birthday present just last year. Will try to enjoy them on my next visit to Malta!


In Rioja this was a growing season of 2 halves - the winter was long, cold and frosty and temperatures remained low throughout spring and much of summer. However, September and October were very hot and dry and this gave a real boost to the quality. In retrospect many producers now believe that, for serious, long-lived red wines, this was a better vintage than the more widely publicised 1982 and they haven’t met me yet :P

Well, I guess Sergey has a bottle for me right? Or is it more a recent vintage? Looking forward to it! :)


Seems the vintage was a good one especially for Brunello yet nothing exceptional when compared to the 1985, 1988 or 1990. Actually I have recently tasted a 1980 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva from the Col D’Orcia estate. Even though the tawny rim clearly indicated signs of ageing and even if the bouquet was full of mature fruit, the palate still held on very well with good acidity and round soft tannins present. It was an amazing experience to drink this wine last February at the Benvenuto Brunello. I surely need to find a 1981 vintage to compare!

The prospect for my 30th year, well surely more wine experiences to uncover, more friends to share my wine with, more dreams to live and more growth within! And they say men are the ones to age gracefully....duh!!


  1. iiii..... I was mentioned in a Blog, with name and surname!!! That's a first. Cool, thanks. But actually, I did nothing, it was you that had the idea and it was again you that asked me to produce a banner for it and change slightly the template, and finally it was you again and again, who is writing these interesting articles.

    As regards which year was best for a wine vintage. There isn't any doubt, obviously, that it was 1978. Proof, proof. Yes sure. Here goes:


    The world's most expensive bottle of wine that could actually be drunk today is also the most expensive wine ever sold in America, a Montrachet 1978 from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti that was hammered down at Sotheby's (nyse: BID - news - people ) in New York in 2001. The lot of seven bottles fetched $167,500, or $23,929 per bottle. This is an extraordinary price for a white wine, even in the rarified world of wine collecting. What happened was that two avid collectors were bidding against each other and got carried away, each refusing to yield as the price rose through the stratosphere.

    And again:


    1978 Excellent red wine vintage. Fully mature.

    And also:


    Background to the Tasting: 1978 was an exceptional year in both Burgundy and the Rhone Valley. Michael Broadbent in his latest edition of Wine Vintages (2003), simply describes 1978 as the best vintage in the Rhone Valley since 1911. Burgundy he describes as excellent, though not quite as exceptionally so. Piedmont too is five stars.

    And the list can go on and on, but I stop here :)

    Keep up all the interesting articles and last but not least, Happy Birthday. Take care.

  2. Thanks so much for the post! Its great that I got you to do so much research to give me/us good feedback.. i am spreading the wine aura.. lol.. as regarding 1978 being the best vintage.. I actually cannot really tell, maybe you might offer buying us a bottle to share? :) wouldn’t mind at all..

    Btw, yesterday during my Birthday dinner we opened the Ladoix 1er Cru Les Corvees you bought me from Domain Chevalier after our tasting there.. it was really really lovely!!! Guess the 2005 vintage is really a great vintage too.. thanks so much for that wine.. still have the Puligny Montrachet to open.. mmmm can’t wait!!! :)