a 1945 atomic vintage

17 years before I was born, the world changed on a level that I do not really think anyone has looked close at the sheer horror of what happened on 6th August 1945 and then a few days later on 9th (happened to be my father`s birthday, he was 24 years of age on that day) and the consequences that the earth and humanity, as a whole still, suffer of.

In my wine world, I have always had a great interest in wines produced before they dropped the atomic bomb and the wines produced afterwards. There is a difference. I tend to use Bordeaux as the example, as it is all well documented and still stands today as a benchmark for the wine market, and vintage reports.

Mouton Rothschild 1940s

1945 Bordeaux harvest began on 13th September, just over a month after the bombs were dropped. Of course the wines made that year deserve their well earned fame. The fact that it’s the victory vintage (not for some), and the end the of World War 2, only added to its legendary status.

The deep, winter freeze helped reduce yields naturally which added immense concentration to the 1945s. Growing conditions were close to perfect from start to finish.

The 1945 Bordeaux growing season was warm, sunny and dry. In other words, perfect! For July, there were numerous heat spikes that made it all the way up to 98 degrees on July 21st. In August (bomb month), the month was perfect, with cold summer nights that dropped down to 49 degrees and ratcheted up to between 89 and 90 degrees for several days at the end of the month. In September, the entire month remained warm and dry, with temperatures that rose to 98 degrees on September 17th. It did not begin to cool down until October, with the highest recorded temperatures reaching to 82 degrees on October 11th. By then, the 1945 grapes were already being vinified.

1962 Mouton RothschildThe harvest took place under drought like conditions, which insured naturally low yields of very concentrated berries. Interestingly, the harvest in 1945 was an early harvest, which started on the same date as the equally legendary, and much later, 1982 vintage, on September 13th.  The wines began life with massive levels of tannin and took decades to develop. Due to the high tannin levels, many of the wines still show well today. The best 1945s came from the Medoc, as well as Pessac Leognan. There were a few stellar wines produced on the Right Bank, especially, Pomerol.The best 1945 Right Bankers came from vineyards located on the Pomerol plateau, like Petrus, Lafleur, Trotanoy, VCC.

Due to the ability of the 1945s to age and evolve, many of the top wines could be even better when they hit one hundred years of age! But overall, 1945 Clarets favored the Left Bank and Graves.

1945 Mouton Rothschild still remains one of the great wines I have tasted in my life, to date. So, I have just decided to taste 1962 Mouton Rothschild and also, maybe to compare with a Mouton Rothschild from the 1928 vintage, 17 years before 1945.

More on that later … if I can find a bottle in good shape.