Most people feel a whiff of trepidation when it comes to birthdays that end in a zero, and a fine wine gift from their birth year can put the smile back on their faces. If they were lucky enough to be born in a year ending with a nine, then there’s plenty of wonderful wines to choose from. 1949, 1959, 1969, 1979 and 1989 all offer glorious bottles from a range of regions at prices to suit all pockets. In this latest blog from MWH Wines – your source of affordable fine wines – we’ll focus on the wines from 1959 and guide you to the best wine gifts for those who are fortunate enough to be turning sixty this year.
The 1959 Vintage: An Overview
In many of the classical wine regions – Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Piemonte, Rioja, the Rhine - 1959 was a vintage that can only be described as ‘magnificent.’ The wines were generally powerful, concentrated and perfectly balanced and many are still drinking wonderfully well now and will continue to do so for years to come. One of the few European regions that wasn’t so well favoured was that perennial wine gift favourite, Port. It wasn’t declared and most of the few single quinta wines that were made have long since been drunk.
So, which regions and wines should you be looking at for a sixtieth birthday present? Here are a few of our favourites from this most favoured of years:
Piemontehad a wonderful vintage in ’59 and many of the wines are still lovely today. The famously temperamental Nebbiolo grape thrived and produced deeply coloured, massive, tannic and sensationally perfumed wines that were always destined to be for the long-haul. The 1959 Barbaresco, Fontanafredda for example, is drinking brilliantly now and, as the year is unfairly overshadowed by the awesome 1958s and 1961s, it is also a relative bargain.
Champagne – in common with Bordeaux and Burgundy, the decidedly mixed decade of the 1950s ended on a significant high. Pretty much every House declared the vintage and the wines they produced are rich, ripe and loaded with baked apple, peach and sweet spice notes. The Cuvee de Prestige – Dom Perignon, Krug, Cristal and Bollinger RD are all legendary wines that are fit to rank with the finest of the century. If you would like to enquire about Champagne from 1959 then please contact us.
Red Bordeaux – one of the greatest wines I have ever tasted was the 1959 Mouton Rothschild. Immensely powerful yet with a delicacy and grace that belies its unbelievable levels of concentration and after six decades in the bottle it is still complete and an absolute show-stopper. This is typical of the wines of the vintage and even modest examples – Cru Bourgeoises and lower Classed Growths – can be spectacular. Great as these wines are, they have never quite reached the level of renown that the legendary 1961s have, and so by comparison they are exquisite and affordable. If you would like to enquire about red Bordeaux from 1959 then please contact us.
Red Burgundy – that doyenne of the auction sales room and writer of fantastically readable tasting notes Michael Broadbent MW, is a huge fan of 1959 red burgundies. Pretty much all his notes in the Great Vintage Book II are glowing and he speaks of a ‘great vintage’ that produced ‘wonderful wines’ of power and concentration that were destined for a long life. Sadly, most of the wines from this year were drunk too young a long time ago, though a few rare examples are around. One of the very best is the La Romanee 1959 from Leroy. Leroy is one of the greatest names in Burgundy – arguably second only to Domaine de la Romanee Conti itself – and this wine shows the very finest attributes of this amazing year. Powerful, rich, deeply complex and with a youthful tone that suggests a long life ahead, this is utterly stunning.
Rioja and Ribera del Duero - both these august Spanish regions created exceptional wines in ’59. The Rioja Denominación de Origen Calificada rated the 1959 Riojas as ‘Muy Bueno’ (very good, the second highest rating for a vintage). Given how well these Tempranillo-based wines drink when young, and that the wines from the Spain weren’t held in as high esteem as they are today, there are relatively few survivors on the market. However, those that have survived are truly special and are characterised by lovely smoked raspberry and strawberry tones that are run-through with citrus and orange zest. If you would like to enquire about red wines from Spain’s admirable 1959 vintage, then please contact us.
Germany –here at MWH Wines we’re huge fans of German wines – especially their often world-beating Rieslings. If you are looking for a white wine as an anniversary gift then these can be an excellent choice. 1959 was, in the words of Broadbent ‘a magnificent vintage’ with ‘extraordinarily high sugar content’ thanks to the unusually hot summer. The best wines were destined to be hard work in youth with high acidity and unbelievably high levels of residual sugar even at lower grades, yet make for superb long-term wines. Now, even the most stubbornly backward examples are fragrant, ripe, generous and developed with a complexity that can match any wine in the world. If you would like to enquire about red wines from Germany’s remarkable 1959 vintage, then please contact us.
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