Favorite/best post-WWII off-vintage First Growth

Subject line says it all:

What is your favorite (what would you say is the best) off-vintage First Growth since 1945?

Feel free to respond with one example or examples of each First Growth. Can include Mouton for all these years, not just 1973-on.

I’ll say 1960 Haut Brion, not because it was all that great but because I shared it with my brother (his birth year) and we were surprised it was so drinkable!

'64 Laour

Hard to know without a really clear definition of off vintage. There are mid range vintages like 2006, 2008 etc. Going back I would say the same for 1979 and 1981. We have been lucky. Of recent vintages, only 2013 is a fail, thanks to a lot of wizardry in the cellars, the rest even 2007 tend to be at worst a B minus.

If we are going for “not great” rather than “bloody awful” I will go for 2001, which is excellent on the Right Bank, and underrated on the left. If we are going for bloody awful, I have no idea, since the Bordelais find it hard to price as low as they deserve, so they are lousy values, and I never get to taste them after primeur, because why the hell would one buy them?

Would '83 and '85 count? [wink.gif] '83 and '85 Cheval Blanc! flirtysmile

Otherwise, '75 Haut Brion and '78 Latour.

How many must one have experienced to offer a valuable opinion?

1984 Ch. Margaux (10y ago) - purple w. violets. Amazing and performing high above expectation. I guess a well stored example still rocks.


Mark brings up some good points - including hard to know w/o clear definition of off-vintage + why would you want a bad vintage?

But I will throw out my thoughts for off-vintages (obviously some vintages are good in some areas and not in others so I will put out ones that were uniformly below-average). And I will note too like Mark that the current vintages are less well-represented.

1946, 1951, 1954, 1956 (not much wine in Bordeaux produced I know), 1957, 1958, 1960, 1963, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1980, 1984, 1987, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1997.

With a 50 year time span it’s hard to compare, as for drinking today a younger wine like 1997 is like more enjoyable than a 1954, strictly due to age. But a 1951 might have always been bad like a 1973.

And finally, as to why try one? Well imagine a thought experiment where you can find a perfectly stored bottle for $20. A 1951 is almost certainly undrinkable, but I could see taking a flyer on a wine from 1967, 1969, 1972, 1974, 1976 (have had the H-Brion, ten years ago, it was good), Soren’s 1980 Margaux, some of the 90’s vintages listed above.

Now obviously the thought experiment is not likely to happen, but if the 1980 Margaux say does offer drinking pleasure, what is a good price for it?

I wouldn’t say 1994 is an off vintage. The Pomerols are not bad, and many better Left growths are coming along too, not charming young, better now.

I paid like $60 for that 1984 Margaux (bargain), and would like to buy more today for $150, if from the same source…
-But it’s always a gamble buying aged wine, especially old offs.

  1. Last year before prices really got bat shit crazy. Good wines if not thirty year wines.

'71 Haut-Brion

Quite a few years ago, after picking up an obsession for Cheval Blanc, there was a retailer in CA that had a stash of '93 CB for $89 per bottle. I picked up a few, and found a lot to like about that wine. Didn’t have the weight of the big vintages, but had a great nose, and a long caramel infused finish. Went back and purchased a few more over the next year or 2…probably went through 12-16 of them total.

Those were the days…

Yeah, even off vintages command ridiculous prices nowadays. I had my birth year Cheval Blanc 1947 and it was one of the best wines I ever drank. On my 60th in 2007.

1968 Haut-Brion (drunk along with '68 Latour and '68 Mouton, which were unrecognizable)
1969 Mouton Rothschild (half-bottle 4th of July mid-1970s)
1967 Latour
1967 Petrus
1973 Lafite Rothschild (wonderful outdoor picnic wine, literally – all violets)

For me, easily the '67 and '71 Latour.

68 Haut Brion

None of the quoted vintages above are “OFF” - who states that has never had a 1951, 1965 or 1974 Bordeaux.
These (1964, 75, 78, 83, 85, 94 …) are good, sometimes very good, or mean/avarage vintages - often depending on right/left bank etc. - but not really “off” …

I don´t 2nd vintages like 1976, 92, 93, 94, 97 - same reasons as above …

I also wouldn´t call 1957 “Off” (not only because it´s my year, but because I have tasted a great many wines … and there were some fine ones among them: Haut-Brion, Mouton, Lafite, Lynch-Bages, La Mission, Poujeaux, Evangile, Gazin, Trotanoy, La Dominique … several others) … after all these years it´s absolutely a question of bottle condition: if you´ve got a really fine bottle (which is rare) … the wine can still be excellent and satisfying …

I´ll throw in 1967 Latour (weak vintage, stunning wine) and 1958 La Mission (unbelievable for the vintage, although technically no 1st growth) … !!!

Agree with Mark, 2013 was a big disapointment when tasting 20 wines last spring … (no mid-palate, hollow, often green, short …) - the worst vintage after 1991 IMHO …

Yep, 1991 - So off, that Petrus didn’t label the vintage. And maybe others too ?


1978 and 1979 Haut Brion and La Mission were both excellent if you consider those off years.

I recently had an 81 Haut Brion that was good, but not worth the tariff.

I think 1988 is a sleeper year - but I have never heard it referred to as an “off-vintage”. If you consider it off, try Latour, Margaux, Haut Brion or La Mission - I have had each and they were wonderful.