50 Years of Wine & Pop Culture

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Launch Slideshow

We all know wines get better with age, but one of the most enjoyable aspects of collecting and indulging in vintages is the nostalgia they evoke for decades past. These wines recall fascinating histories: wars, artistic achievements, the rise of musical icons. As we share eight of the best vintages from the Cellar of William I. Koch, click ahead to revisit key moments in pop culture from the same years the bottles were produced.

Wines from the Cellar of William I. Koch
19–21 May | New York

50 Years of Wine & Pop Culture

  • Photo courtesy Selznick International Pictures and Vanguard Films
    1945: Château Mouton Rothschild


    1945 Mouton is one of the world’s most mythic wines – from one of the century’s most historic vintages – bottled at the end of World War II. The now-iconic label, commissioned by Baron Philippe de Rothschild, designed by Philippe Julian and undoubtedly inspired by Winston Churchill’s famous “V-for-victory” signal, celebrates the “Year of Victory.” Since then, each Mouton label has featured a reproduction of an original artwork specifically created for the château by a contemporary artist. From the same year that De Kooning painted Pink Angels and Hitchcock’s Spellbound was released, this wine tastes of flavoured coffee, cloves, cinnamon, raspberries, gingerbread, blackcurrants and mint.

  • Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
    1947: Château Margaux
    From a hot but important postwar vintage – we have all heard the anecdotes of vignerons using ice to control fermentations – Margaux produced one of the year’s top wines. In the same year that this decadent wine was produced, the diary of Anne Frank was published, infamous gangster Al Capone died and Christian Dior revolutionised the industry with the “New Look,” a fashionable silhouette of voluminous skirts with tightly fitted waists, in Paris.

  • © imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo
    1959: Château Pétrus


    The 1959 Bordeaux vintage was heralded all over the world – especially in the US – thanks to the growing culture of wine connoisseurship. This excellent vintage, which has a silky chocolate flavour, favoured the châteaux of Pomerol, none more so than Pétrus, whose prestige is unsurpassed and whose 1959 is a monument to this classic year. Also in America during this year, the first Barbie doll debuted at the American Toy Fair, and seven months later, New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, opened to the public, shortly after the architect's death. On TV, Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone premiered, while at the movies, Ben-Hur and Some Like it Hot ruled the box office.


  • Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
    1961: Château Latour


    In this historic vintage , a small crop produced wines of larger-than-life intensity and character – none more so than Château Latour, famous for its power and consistency. In the worlds of art and culture, French artist Yves Klein patents International Klein Blue, his signature colour, the Oscar-winning film West Side Story is released, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 is published. Perhaps the biggest debut? The Beatles perform for the first time at The Cavern Club in Liverpool.  

  • Cover Credit: ROBERTO BROSAN, GEORGE SEGAL (SCULPTURE)
    1982: Château Pétrus
    The status of Pétrus is unsurpassed, and in the heralded 1982 vintage , it is a monument to greatness and one of this château’s most coveted wines. It was also a major year for technology: TIME magazine’s Man of the Year was for the first time given to a non-human, the computer. The first CDs are released in Germany, and what better soundtrack to listen to than the best-selling album of all time, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which was released that December.      

  • Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
    1986: Château Mouton Rothschild


    In the tremendous 1986 vintage , Mouton – the most opulent of all the first growths – is a real star, as memorable as the late Prince, who released his song “Kiss” that same year. For this label of wine, the Chateau commissioned original artwork from Haitian-born Bernard Séjourné. Other notable pop-cultural moments include Matt Groening’s creation of The Simpsons family, and the first musicians, including James Brown and Elvis, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

  • 1990: Château Montrose


    Château Montrose is one of Bordeaux’s most exciting and long-lived wines. In Bordeaux’s excellent 1990 vintage – arguably the greatest since 1982 – Château Montrose, with its superb mineral flavour, was one of the stars of the show. Two youthful icons were born: Harry Potter and Pokémon, whose creators both got the idea for these soon-to-be hits that year. Meanwhile in the art world, Robert Mapplethorpe heated up the Culture Wars with The Perfect Moments, an exhibition of nude and homoerotic photographs at the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center.  

  • Peter Scholey / Alamy Stock Photo
    2000: Château Cheval Blanc
    Cheval Blanc is celebrated for its voluptuous character and distinctive scent, thanks to a high proportion of Cabernet Franc. The Cheval Blanc from the 2000 vintage has taken its place alongside the greatest wines from this château, including the 1947 and 1949. The dawn of the new millennium paved the way for many thrilling cultural moments, whether it was De Beers’ Millennium Jewels collection launch or the Tate Modern Gallery opening in London.

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