Given the joys that 2020 has gifted us, most wine lovers will be glad to bid this year farewell – though if early reports from around the wine world are to be believed, it may well turn out to be a vintage we shall treasure. For others, however, 2021 will represent a special anniversary year, one that will warrant a special anniversary wine gift.  At MWH Wines we’re specialists in anniversary wine gifts and throughout 2020 we’ve been assiduously collecting great wines from around the world from vintages ending in 1.  In this latest blog, we’ll give you a few recommendations for gifts that will delight any wine lover celebrating a special birthday or anniversary in 2021.

We hope that you will find this blog of interest, but if you would like some more help or are looking for a specific special bottle, then please get in touch.  You can email MWH Wines here or call us on 0118 984 4654 and we’ll be more than happy to help.  So, on with the wines…

Wines from 1951

We’ll start with 1951.  Unfortunately for those celebrating their 70th next year, 1951 hasn’t provided much in the way of fine wines to choose from.  In Bordeaux it ranks as one of the worst vintages on record.  Burgundy was better (it could hardly have been worse) but the quantities were tiny.  1951 wasn’t a widely declared year for Vintage Port – though some lovely Colheitascan be found.  As for the New World, there were some excellent wines produced but at this nascent stage most were drunk domestically.  If you are looking for something from 1951 then we’d recommend looking to Armagnac or Cognac.

Wines from 1961

Next up, 1961, a year that could barely be more different to 1951.  To many wine lovers – especially someone who adores red Bordeaux – 1961 has almost mystical connotations.   Arguably the greatest year since 1945 and superior to other legendary years such as 1982, 1990 and 2000, 1961 was a frost-affected vintage that resulted in a small harvest of wines of stellar quality.  Wines like Lafite Rothschild, Petrus and Latour are amongst the greatest (and most expensive) this region has ever produced.  Happily, there are affordable wines to be had from this classic year such as the glorious La Lagune and the (pre-downfall) Château Lascombes.

Of course, 1961 did produce wines in other regions and these can be excellent.  While 1961 wasn’t a widely declared year for Vintage Port, this hot year produced some excellent single quinta wines from the like of Fonseca.  Northern Italy also fared well and bargains can abound from regions such as Barolo and Barbaresco.

Wines from 1971

1971 is one of those overlooked years that, with a few notable exceptions in Burgundy, have been forgotten.  This is a shame – especially when it comes to Bordeaux – as the wines were often excellent, elegant and long-lived.  Having been overshadowed (unfairly in our opinion) by the 1970s means that the wines remain relative bargains when compared to its more immediate and fashionable predecessor.  Take Cos d’Estournel 1971 for example.  Not only is this a  beautiful wine which is still drinking wonderfully well, it’s also great value for money when compared to other similarly high-quality vintages.

Like most years, 1971 had its star regions and it’s safe to say that if you want the best of 1971 then Burgundy and the great wines of northern Italy – Barolo and Barbaresco – are superb choices too.

Wines from 1981

Another year that’s full of great, yet underrated wines, is 1981.  For vintage Port the wines were eclipsed by the lovely 1980s, in Bordeaux it was the extraordinary 1982s, while in Burgundy the false reputation of the 1982s (decent at best) cast a long shadow.  For us Bordeaux is probably the place to look for the best wines.  1981s have much in common with the ‘71s in that they are elegant, refined, long-lived and full of charm.  The commune of Margaux fared well – especially its two leading stars, Château Palmer and Château Margaux – as did Pauillac (Lafite Rothschild and Latour are stunning) – and St Emilion has its heroes too in the shape of classics such as Cheval Blanc and Angelus.

Wines from 1991

And so, we come to 1991.  In Bordeaux this was a ‘difficult year’ – difficult in the way that pushing an ice cube through a blast furnace is ‘difficult’.  A severe spring frost brought visions of 1961 part two to the minds of growers, but these hopes were washed away by rain and the vintage – especially in St Emilion and Pomerol – wasn’t up to much.  The Medoc fared better and the top wines, think Mouton, Latour and especially Lafite, are still very good.

Other regions were dealt a better hand and one that is very close our hearts did spectacularly well, Port.  The 1991 Vintage Ports are often exceptional and are drinking at their lofty peak now.  Dow, Graham, Warre and Cockburn all rightly declared the vintage, indeed the only noticeable exception to the line-up is Taylor.  Taylor celebrated its 300 anniversary in 1992 so it was predictable that they would keep their power dry for the 1992s – which turned out to be spectacular.

Another European region that produced excellent wines was Burgundy.  While the whites – with the possible exception of the very grandest producers’ Montrachets will be past their prime – reds at premier cru level can be wonderful.  We drank a Beaune Premier Cru from Faiveley last year and it was glorious; youthful, vigorous and delightfully blending mature Pinot Noir fruit with the undergrowth tones of age.   These wines came to a market that was buoyed by 1988s, 1989s and 1990s and while the 1991s were often within an ace of being as good, they failed to capture the imagination of the trade in the same way and have remained a source of affordable quality ever since.

Like Some Anniversary Wine Gift Help?

We hope you found this anniversary wine gift blog of use, but if you are looking for a specific wine then please get in touch by calling Mike on 0118 984 4654 or by emailing MWH Wines.  We’ll be adding more anniversary wines over the coming weeks so make sure you check back regular or sign up to MWH Wines’ fine wine email newsletter.