The 1954 vintage, a contrasting vintage

by Julie Berteloot
Photo millésimes 1954

A mediocre vintage in Bordeaux, but satisfactory in Burgundy

In Bordeaux, the year 1954 was difficult. The freezing summer followed by a rainy month of August had a strong impact on the harvest. As a result, most wines are diluted and not very rich.

On the other hand, in Burgundy, the 1954 vintage is of fairly good quality, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Good weather conditions throughout the year and sunshine during the harvest therefore enabled the production of great wines. Red wines are fragrant and frank in taste.

Bordeaux 1954, a vintage too quickly forgotten

Campagne de Bordeaux 1954

The 1954 vintage is a rather forgotten Bordeaux vintage, located between two great vintages, 1953 and 1955. It is not as poorly regarded as the 1951 and 1956 vintages, but it is often overlooked. At that time, winemaking techniques were still rudimentary and the means to combat disease were limited. Mildew could therefore have wreaked havoc, which further reduced the quality of the wines.

The year 1954 began with a cold snap in January, followed by a changeable March. Growth was stunted by cold spells in April and then by powdery mildew and coulure in July. August was hot, but persistent rain and cool nights compromised the quality of the vintage. It’s on October 10 that the harvest began, after a mild and warm week.

The harvest took place in ideal conditions, with an unusual temperature of 27°C recorded on October 16 and 17. The harvest was later in Sauternes due to the bad month of September. Yquem only finished its harvest on November 16. The difficult vintage dissuaded many Sauternes properties from marketing wine.

Burgundy 1954, a pleasant vintage

In Burgundy, the 1954 vintage is of fairly good quality, both quantitatively and qualitatively. The good weather conditions of the year, with a mild and sunny spring, a hot and dry summer and a mild and late autumn allowed the vines to develop optimally. It’s under radiant sunshine that the harvest took place, which allowed the harvest healthy and ripe grapes

The red wines from this vintage are fragrant and frank in taste. They have a beautiful tannin structure and good acidity, which gives them good aging potential. The white wines are also of good quality, with fruity aromas and good freshness.

Some of Burgundy’s best estates produced great wines in 1954, including Romanée-Conti, La Tâche, Richebourg, Montrachet and Corton-Charlemagne. These wines are rare and sought-after, and they can command very high prices.

Overall, the 1954 vintage is a good vintage in Burgundy. The red wines are particularly successful, with a slight downside regarding the whites which are sometimes a little green.

Vendanges en Bourgogne 1954

Rhône Valley 1954, an unsatisfactory vintage

Vallée du Rhône 1954

In the Rhône valley, the 1954 vintage was disappointing, just like in Bordeaux. The abundant rains favored the development of diseases, notably mildew. Red wines are often light and lack structure. The white wines are also disappointing, with high acidity and poorly developed aromas.

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