1961 Bordeaux
A horizontal tasting from this famous vintage

1961 was a classic Bordeaux vintage. A spring frost had the side-benefit of naturally restricting yields, and was followed by a warm summer allowing the grapes to ripen fully. The best wines of this vintage are some of the most sought after of all. Now, some 50 years on, only the best wines are still going to be drinking well, so it was great to have a chance to look at half a dozen 1961s to see how they are progressing.

With any tasting of wines of this age, bottle variation can be immense. Fine wine needs good storage, and any bottles that haven’t been kept at a low, even temperature have little chance of surviving 50 years and still tasting good. And then there’s the issue of variation in cork quality, which can also be a source of bottle variation. But these 1961s showed pretty well. They are fully mature and should be drunk now and over the next few years, but they haven’t entered their terminal decline, perhaps with the exception of the Margaux.

These 1961s were shown by Roberson Wine at their annual tasting, which was very decent of them, because they aren’t for sale. 


Château Meyney St Estephe 1961
Orange/brown colour and a little cloudy. Earthy, spicy, evolved nose leads to a mellow, spicy palate with some elegance. Fine grainy tannins and a bit of cherry fruit add real interest. Supple and long. 92/100

Château Calon-Ségur St Estephe 1961
Cherry red colour with a bricking rim. Fresh, spicy, assertive nose with bright cherry fruit. Lifted earthy spicy notes. Real elegance on the palate. Lively, fresh and spicy with some mineral and earthy notes. Really elegant, and still has some fruit. Just a tiny hint of old wine mustiness. 94/100

Château Lynch-Bages Pauillac 1961 (magnum)
Quite deep coloured with some bricking on the rim. Lovely, elegant spicy nose is fine and expressive with cherry and berry fruit as well as some spice and mineral notes. The palate is fresh and elegant with spicy, subtly earthy cherry and plum fruit. Really fine with nice tannins. 95/100

Château Léoville Barton St Julien 1961
Deep, full colour, with a bricking rim. Elegant, open cherry and berry fruit nose is surprisingly fresh with some spice and earth notes. Fine and supple. The palate is bright, fresh and quite fruity with some nice fine structure and subtle earth notes. Real elegance and freshness here. 95/100

Château La Tour du Pin Figeac 1961 St Emilion
Red/orange colour. A bit cloudy. Earthy, spicy nose is evolved but quite appealing. The palate has plum and cherry fruit with some rounded, smooth texture and fine-grained tannins. Still hanging in there, and quite elegant with it. 93/100

Château Margaux 1961
Assertive, spicy, earthy nose is quite evolved. The palate is dry and faded with some cherry fruit and still some tannin, but it does finish rather dry. Just about hanging in there, but not as good as you’d hope for. 90/100

See also:

1971 Bordeaux: a 30 year on first growth tasting

Wines tasted 05/11 
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