Vintage 1974, a disappointing vintage

by Lou Heriche
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Bordeaux 1974, when the rain ruins everything

After a rather ordinary spring, the month of May started with heavy rains, followed by frost which hit parts of the Médoc on 8 May. Despite this, temperatures then rebounded, allowing the vines to grow rapidly. Flowering began around June 1 and by the end of the month the outlook looked promising. However, as early as August, the vines began to show signs of heat stress. Fortunately, welcome episodes of rain intervened at the end of August at the beginning of September.

Unfortunately, on September 21, a deluge hit, deterring the chateaux from sending their pickers and risking rotting of the grapes. The majority of the pickers were out on September 30, but the weather remained gloomy, alternating between continuous rains and persistent morning fog. Showers in September and October dashed hopes of a vintage that could have made up for the previous two years, and much of the harvest was diluted. The quality of the harvested grapes will leave something to be desired, being rather unbalanced, and the only positive aspect will be the quantity.

Bordeaux vineyards
©️ Laurent Theillet

Bourgogne 1974, a heterogeneous vintage

As for the early 1970s, the quality of the wines will not be there. The year is off to a relatively good start, with frost-free winter months. Flowering went rather well, although there are some differences in maturity, suggesting challenges for the cellar masters.

However, what followed was the exact opposite of these unequal maturities, with more reassuring conditions. The summer was excellent, marked by abundant heat, but unfortunately, everything changed with a disastrous month of September. Torrential rains fell on the vineyards, making the task almost impossible during the harvest. For both red and white wines, the quality will be very average, although whites do slightly better with slightly fruitier juices. The overflow of water in the grapes in fact brought excessive acidity to the harvest.

Burgundy vineyards

Rhône Valley 1974, the south is doing a little better

As in many French wine regions, the 1974 Rhône vintage was not favorable. The rains hampered much of the harvest, producing diluted wines. Perhaps the southern Rhone wines were slightly superior to the northern ones, but none reached a brilliant level.

Rhône vineyards in the Condrieu appellation

Some beautiful Condrieu whites nevertheless stood out. This year’s best wines can be enjoyed fairly quickly, but most, if not all, will have reached their peak and cannot be stored much longer.

Champagne 1974, an unsatisfactory harvest

Champagne, like many regions of France, has faced extremely changeable weather conditions throughout the year. The summer was marked by intense heat and drought, with essential rains in August, but unfortunately too much rain occurred during the harvest period. In fact, very few wines have reached a level of excellence when they are released.

Coteaux de Pierry in Champagne
©️ Claude Mandois

Our selection of the 1974 vintage

In this very difficult vintage, we recommend the best castles and estates, their know-how and the quality of their terroir have saved the furniture, as such we suggest:

CHÂTEAU MOUTON ROTHSCHILD 1974

Rated 97/100 by Doctorwine

“I haven’t tasted such a convincing Mouton Rothschild in years. The red color is nicely intact with just a few hints of brick on the edge. The aromas are decidedly bottle aged with hints of undergrowth, fine mushroom , black truffle and strong spices. Very peppery. The palate is intense, expressive, matched and stimulated.”

Tasting April 2016

DOMAINE DE LA ROMANEE CONTI 1974

Rated 89/100 by Allen Meadow – Burghound

“Bricked through and through. The expressive nose is made up of undergrowth notes, plenty of spice and sandalwood undertones with only a trace of mold in the background. The lighter flavors are fully ripe and, interestingly, the usually stiff and astringent tannins are largely resolved on the nicely complex and devious long finish.This wine isn’t technically perfect and certainly isn’t a great LT, but it’s is a very good ’74, and especially at 45!”

Tasting April 2019

CHATEAU RAYAS Rouge 1974

Rated 84/100 by Wine Spectator

“A beautiful medium-bodied red, with a soft texture and notes of brown sugar, cinnamon and red fruits.”

Tasting December 1999

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