A milestone
Télécharger la fiche millésime
Characteristics of the vintage

Considered to be one of the greatest vintages of the post-war period, 1961 nevertheless got off to a difficult start with two harsh frosts in quick succession on April 21st and 29th.

After this, the vines flowered early but cold weather in May resulted in widespread coulure. The vines suffered further from the very hot, dry summer and by September, the grapes were beginning to dry out and the near drought conditions were leading to serious vine stress.

Heavy rain at the end of September thankfully allowed the grapes to achieve near perfect ripeness.

Small volumes and high concentration combined to produce wines of truly exceptional quality in 1961. From the moment fermentation began, the colour and rich concentration of sugar and tannins were outstanding. The wines are silky, creamy and consistent.

Harvest dates: from 09/19/1961 to 09/27/1961


Merlot: 52%
Cabernet Sauvignon: 30%
Petit Verdot: 13%
Cabernet Franc: 5%

Ageing potential



Tasting notes from Enrico Bernardo, 12/01/2011:

Clear garnet-red with bricking.
Complex, floral, fruity, spicy bouquet. Extraordinary! Aromas of mushroom, wet earth, black truffle, liquorice, and black cherry.
Caresses the palate. Fantastic! Rare beauty! Long, deep, and elegant, with a unique character. A benchmark, very distinguished wine.

Tasting notes from Georges Lepré, 02/04/2009:

Even after all these years, this quintessentially great Margaux continues to enchant us. 1961 Palmer still has a deep colour and displays a bouquet that is both extremely delicate and quite concentrated, with hints of wild strawberry, forest floor, truffle, and cigar box.

This superb wine is remarkably full-bodied, despite its age, and the tannin is marvellously smooth. The aftertaste is fresh and delicately floral. The overall impression is divine, a moment of pure pleasure and a shining example of elegant, great Bordeaux.

Press Review, Jeannie Choo Lee, 11/01/2013
« This was my wine of the evening in an extraordinary vertical tasting at the chateau that included the 1983, 1953, 1945 and 1928. A gorgeous bouquet of dried flowers on the nose that is pure pot pourri. The palate offers much more than just floral characters – the wine opens up to a sweet mid palate core with sweet spices, roasted herbs and touch of white truffles. Very long finish. An impressive Palmer that is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. », Jancis Robinson, 02/25/2009
« Wilts cellar – five bottles left! I feel so privileged to have tasted this wine on so many occasions, and especially to have been given a chance to enjoy this bottle so late in its incredibly extended lifespan. What a miracle wine. (Humorist Miles Kington was sent by his brewer father to pick grapes in Bordeaux and ended up at Palmer in 1961, but the wine virus didn't take.) Still wonderfully sweet on the nose and sinewy, positively willowy, on the palate. Quite extraordinarily persistent. Not big. Such a different animal from so many red bordeaux made today. Now taking on some slightly gamey notes with a little dustiness but lots of life and energy. It faded a little in the glass after 10 minutes or so with the acidity becoming more prominent, and I would therefore not decant this wine ahead of time if I were in the enviable position of serving it, but if the Gruaud was a wine of pleasure, this is a wine to marvel at.
Drink 1975-2015  », John Kapon, 10/01/2004
« The 1961 Palmer took Left Bank honors this day, far from a long shot but a surprise nonetheless! It had a great nose that was very supple with flashes of grape, cassis and blackcurrant fruit, and nice supplementary aromas of minerals and gravel. The pinch of chocolate was perfect on its meaty palate, and like I mentioned previously, it made the Latour look worse, for lack of a better word. The wine was delicious, long and still young  »

Wine News, Abraham Horowitz, 04/01/2004
« Light orange-brown hue. Penetrating scents of cedar, pencil lead and bell pepper. Lively flavors of raspberry and orange marmalade. Velvety tannins and lasting flavors of sweet tobacco and raspberry in the extraordinary finish. »

Wine News, Abraham Horowitz, 04/01/2004
« Light orange-brown hue. Penetrating scents of cedar, pencil lead and bell pepper. Lively flavors of raspberry and orange marmalade. Velvety tannins and lasting flavors of sweet tobacco and raspberry in the extraordinary finish. »

CARNETS - BETTANE et DESSEAUVE, Betane & Desseauve, 06/01/2002
« Une merveille: le nez voluptueux, complexe, inoubliable, alterne des notes de rose à des nuances tertiaires animales comme le musc et la civette, avec une grâce confondante qu'il doit à un bon taux d'acidité volatile. Mais, par miracle, cette acidité n'a pas attaqué la texture qui conserve un velouté exceptionnel qui a largement contribué à la légende de ce millésime de Palmer et que cette bouteille confirme! D'une longueur extraordinaire, ce vin allie le panache à l'assagissement du grand âge et rapelle que le plaisir de dégustation passe d'abord par le charme de la saveur et le confort des sensations tactiles. Le vin semble hors du temps.  »

International Wine Cellar, Stephen Tanzer, 06/01/2002
« Full medium red. Great sweet, mature nose of redcurrant, rose petal, truffle and underbrush, with some exotic tarry merlot showing. Wonderfully sweet and concentrated, with a hint of the liqueur-like quality of the vintage. This reminded me of a great old bottle of Hermitage. Finishes with powerful sweetness and uncanny persistence. This was one of the handful of wines that completely dominated the scorecards of both groups of tasters.  »

La Revue du Vin de France, 09/01/2001
« La robe, assez profonde, précède un nez très fin et complexe sur des nuances d'écorces et de fumé, avec une touche de rose fanée et de praline. Grande fraîcheur en bouche, avec un fruit tertiaire dominant et une présence tannique tout en équilibre . La finale est superbe.  »

Tasting of 1961 Clarets, Robert H, 01/01/2001
« Dark & dense. Opulent nose of spices, sandalwood, wood, leather, some smoke. Equally impressive on the palate with lots of volume, waves of flavors, mouthfilling. Elegance, balance, finesse, sweetness and length and more length. A truly outstanding Bordeaux, perfectly mature but with no end in sight. One of the best bottles I have had in my life. Outstanding++< »

The Wine Advocate, Robert Parker, 10/01/1994
« Tasted 9 Times With Consistent Notes The 1961 Palmer has long been considered to be a legend from this vintage, and its reputation is well-deserved. The wine is at its apogee, with an extraordinary, sweet, complex nose with aromas of flowers, cassis, toast, and minerals. It is intensely concentrated, offering a cascade of lavishly ripe, full-bodied, opulent fruit, soft tannins, and a voluptuous finish. This is a decadent Palmer, unparalleled since in quality with the exception of 1983 and 1989.  »