March 1978 in Bordeaux was the wettest March there since 1870.
But it perked up over the summer: July, August and September were very dry and warm – good for the Cabernet and Merlot grapes for the red wines, not so good for the Sémillon and Sauvignon grapes for the sweet white Sauternes wines (because there was no noble rot).
A few showers in late September limited the effects of what was becoming a drought.
The 1978 Château Latour harvest took place 9th-20th October, only a few weeks before the “Winter of Discontent” – the period between November 1978 and February 1979 in the UK of widespread strikes by private and public sector trade unions demanding pay rises.
Latour ’78 was sold en primeur in the UK in 1980 at £159 for a 12-bottle case. This would now equate to about £640 – which is more or less 1/12th of a 12-bottle case today.
It was one of those so-so Bordeaux vintages when Latour outshone its neighbours and made a rich, tannic, sumptuous wine.
As for the Winter of Discontent, even the gravediggers went on strike, which caused grave problems because nobody could be buried… 🍷