Champagne Vintage Years: 1960’s
20th April 2023
It was known as the swinging sixties for many when England was the centre of global attention with The Beatles, Rolling Stones and The Who. Be it Mods and Rockers, Mini Skirts and go-go boots, Twiggy or Jean Shrimpton and of course there was also a World Cup Willie Victory in 66. Celebrations were very much in full swing and Champagne was never far away, just ask George Best!
Over in France, under president Charles de Gaulle, there was the French Fifth Republic. In 1962 Champagne claimed its relationship with James Bond in the inaugural movie Dr No starring Sean Connery (Dom Pérignon 1955). The Sixties saw sales increase in spectacular fashion: shipments rose from three million to six million bottles, making G.H.MUMM the number one Reims Champagne. source G.H.Mumm – The History
Champagne has always been there so it seems, its history spans a few centuries so it is likely that somewhere within important events it will feature and even though the 1960s may already be an average of 60 years ago (as of writing this article in 2023) we are still very much in the more recent years of this famous ‘king of wines’ & ‘the wine of kings’ as it is known by many.
Vintages are still around and yet to leave the cellar from the 1960s, though slightly more work needs to go in to finding them and you’ll usually need either a very friendly relationship with the Champagne house or you would need the services of a Champagne finding service / fine wine merchant.
What exactly makes for a vintage Champagne? Though there is no overall official consensus as to what year will take on a title of vintage, neither are there standards set which have to be achieved, the decision is instead independently taken by each wine maker / cellar master of the Champagne houses themselves.
Most times, an exceptional year will be noted by all and usually go down as an (un)official vintage where you will typically find that most Champagne houses will have released a label in memory of the occasion. Most Champagne, around 90% of annual production, goes into making non vintage where blends from multiple years are put together in order to match the style that is accustomed of the winery as most consumers will prefer consistency.
Champagne tasting from the 1960s / 70s
Is a 60 year old Champagne still good we must first ask ourselves. We can expect the wine to be very different to what we expect from the usual Champagne, we will be seeing more toasty / oak characters, yeasty / bread / coffee / honey / dried fruits / woody spices and more, it is unlikely the wine will be fresh, floral and fruity! The bubbles will be next to non-existent (depending on disgorgement time). Colouring will usually be darker tones of yellow to tawny depending on any reaction with the cork so you will need to expect some sediment – if there has been severe cork damage then decanting is recommended to avoid residue being poured in to your glass.
Champagne Vintages 1960 – 1969:
1960: Records show just an average vintage and nothing interesting to note. Look out for Lanson 1760 Black Label, Moët & Chandon White Star and Dry Monopole – Heidsieck & Co.
1961: Seen as an above average to an excellent standard vintage for Champagne which produced healthy grapes of very good quality. Dom Pérignon can be found along with Bollinger Brut Vintage, Krug Vintage and Salon.
1962: Following a decent year previously, it’s slightly less so impressive with the harvest of 1962. Krug Collection, Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage, Cristal and Dom Pérignon are among labels you can still find for sale online via specialist wine merchants.
1963: Certainly a year to pass on and this was the case across most French wine regions. Little to find of the 1963 vintage year.
1964: Plenty of positive reviews across Europe for the 1964 vintage including Champagne. Many famous houses released their 64 vintage including Veuve Clicquot Vintage, Krug, Perrier-Jouët, Piper Heidsieck, Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon and more.
1965: From good to bad and a year to once again pass on. Very little to see in the main French wine growing regions by way of vintages and that firmly includes Champagne too.
1966: The 1996 Champagne vintage was widely recognized as very good, even brilliant. The region benefited from a long, hot, dry summer with few problems. The grapes managed to reach full phenolic ripeness without sacrificing on acidity (source wine-searcher). Piper-Heidsieck rosé has a vintage available still via winerited.
1967: A so-so vintage with not much around and suspected that most will be well past any decent flavours left in unopened bottles. Louis Roederer Brut Vintage from 1967 is available on monmillesime.
1968: A year to forget and has been forgotten!
1969: We finish the decade with a little less than an acceptable vintage year. You will find a few labels around such as Veuve Clicquot, Krug and Bollinger.
George Best image credit: magnolia box
Title image credit: wine-auctioneer
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.