1978 A VERY GOOD YEAR IN ALMOST EVERY MAJOR wine-growing area of the world, from the Nebbiolo-laden slopes of Piedmont (specifically Bruno Giacosa's Barbaresco Santo Stefano Riserva) to the Cabernet vineyards of the Napa Valley (Diamond Creek's Lake and Volcanic Hill). But 1978 was especially remarkable in the Rhône, where Paul Jaboulet Aîné's Hermitage La Chapelle, Jean-Louis Chave's Hermitage and Guigal's single-vineyard Côte Rôties (La Mouline and La Landonne), to name but a few, were breathtaking. Meanwhile, in Bordeaux the new owners of Château Margaux, André and Laura Mentzelopoulos, restored the long-sagging reputation of this most feminine château to its former glory nearly overnight. Tastings in recent years reveal that some of the other 1978 first growths have not quite lived up to expectations. Burgundy is a different case: the wines of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Henri Jayer and Domaine Dujac remain truly impressive.
1979 A GOOD BUT DEFINITELY NOT A GREAT VINTAGE in Bordeaux, although Margaux was again superb, as were a few Pomerols. There was not much of real note elsewhere apart from some Châteauneuf-du-Papes (Château Rayas, for one). This was, however, the first vintage for Opus One, the pioneering joint venture of Robert Mondavi and the late Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Château Mouton Rothschild.