BIRTH YEAR WINE - Celebrate birthdays with a gift of a wine born of the same year as the celebrant

Birth-year wines are intimate gifts of respect and affection. YATS Wine Cellars maintains a cellar of old vintages specially dedicated to this kind of requirements.

A gift of a fine wine from a vintage of the birth year of the recipient is not only a classy gesture it is intimate without being intrusive. That's why this practice has been prevalent in the U.S., Europe and leading countries in Asia for over a decade.

There are a few things to consider when you select a wine for a gift.

The challenge here is to select a wine from a region in which the birth year happened to be a reasonably good vintage. A wrong selection will result in buying a wine that will give no pleasures.

Here is a list of recommended types of wines to give for each birth years for three decades:

1950      Red Grand Cru Burgundy; Some vintage port
1951      Top Red Grand Cru Classe from Bordeaux
1952      Champagne; Hermitage; Top Red Grand Cru Classe Bordeaux
1953      Red Grand Cru Classe Bordeaux
1954      Vintage Port; La Tache and Romanee Conti
1955      Vintage Port; Grand Cru Classe Bordeaux Red
1956      Napa Valley Top Cabernet Sauvignon; Tokay Aszu
1957      Grand Cru Classe Bordeaux Red
1958      Vintage Port; Napa Valley Top Cabernet Sauvignon
1959      Champagne; Red Burgundy and Bordeaux; Sauternes
1960      Vintage Port; Champagne; Vega Sicilia Unico
1961      Bordeaux Red;
1962      Sauternes; Bordeaux Grand Cru Classe Reds; Italian Red
1963      Vintage Port
1964      St. Emilion/Pomerol; Champagne
1965      Vega Sicilia Unico; Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon; Greatest Bordeaux Grand Cru Classe
1966      Vintage Port; Grand Cru Classe Red
1967      Sauternes; St. Emilion/Pomerol
1968      Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon; Greatest Bordeaux Grand Cru Classe
1969      Red or White Burgundy
1970      Napa Valley; Bordeaux; Sauternes; Champagne
1971      Cote Rotie; Chablis; Champagne; Chianti; Barolo
1972      Sauternes; Napa Valley top Cabernet Sauvignon
1973      Montrachet and Corton-Charlemagne; Vega Sicilia Unico
1974      Great Red Bordeaux; Barolo and Brunello; California Red
1975      Bordeaux Red; Sauternes; Chablis; champagne
1976      Sauternes; Montrachet; Corton-Charlemagne;
1977      Vintage Port
1978      Red and White Burgundy; Bordeaux Reds
1979      Sauternes; Chablis; Champagne; Italian Reds
1980      Chablis 1er and Grand Crus; Champagne

When shopping for older vintage wines, always examine the bottle first. Inspect three things:

  1. The fill - for old wines, wine level down into the shoulder is acceptable. For younger ones (20 years) the fill should be nearer to the neck of the bottle.
  2. The color - red wine loses color with age but it should not reach light brown.
  3. Sediment - check the bottom of the bottle for sediment. If there is none or very little, it may indicate that the bottle was improperly stored.

If you hand carry such a gift to a dinner, insist that your host saves it for a future occasion. For older bottles, the journey would have almost certainly disturbed the sediment at least a little. This would cause the wine to become murky and slip out of form. A few months of cellaring would correct it nicely.

Birth year wines will invariable cost a bundle. A good 1969 Grand Cru Red Burgundy will set you back around USD 700, more if it is from a great producer like DRC or Leroy. A nice 1964 Grand Cru Classe, like a Giscours for example, would not surrender itself for anything less than USD 250. Some may question the point in all of this. Perhaps the point is that the true substance of a gift is an excuse for the recipient to splurge without the accompanying guilt.

If you have trouble finding some of these bottles, visit
or email YATS Wine Cellars has bottles from vintages of the last 120 years, and most of them are actually much more affordable than one might expect for their ages.


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