Here is a micro experience to find out the thruth. I have gotten hold of two bottles from respectively vintage, from a Bordeaux negociant. Same provenance, the level is very good on both bottles and the general condition seems good.
What say the pros about these two vintages?
Steven Spurrier in his Académie du Vin Wine Course (1983) gives 1959 - 16,5p and 1961 - 20p.
Yves Durand in his Connoisseur´s Guide to Bordeaux Wines (1987) gives 1959 - 19-19,5p and 1961 - 20p.
When Reading David Peppercorn´s Bordeaux (1991) it is obvious that he prefers 1961 to 1959.
The same could be said about Clive Coates assesment in his Grands Vins (1996).
Michel Broadbent gives both vintages 5 stars in his Vintage Wine (2002).
Last but not least (!), what does Robert Parker has to say? He doesn´t give scores (!) to the vintages but reading what he has to say in Bordeaux (1998) he gives the nod to 1961, even though he says that the 1959's could outlive the 61´s.
So its seems that 1961 has the upper hand according to our experts above.
Well, let see what I have in the glasses and which is the better wine.
1959 Bordeaux, J. Lebègue & Co
The 59 has a deep, soft yet intense nose with notes of dried black currants, fresh stables, charchoal and sweet tobacco. Very much alive and kicking. There is even a hint of mint. Evolves all evening long and becomes sweeter. Warm tiles. Very, very good.
The taste is a tad more linear than the nose and the fruit lacks some stuffing. Still holding on though and with some grilled minced meat steaks with root vegetables and red wine sauce, it held its own. A good warmth to the dried up fruit. Very nice.
85p (tasted 2015/07)
1961 Bordeaux, J. Lebègue & Co
The 2 year younger generic Bordeuax has a gorgeous mature, refined nose, with notes of ripe red and black currants, forest floor, coffee beans, dry leather and dried flowers. Not as sweet as the 59 but it has a more laid back elegance and balance. This is actually really, really good. Given this blind, I would on the nose alone guessed it to be from 82 or 78...
The taste is yet again a bit more high strung than the nose, but the 61 has more stuffing than the 59 and there are fine notes of dried black currants, earth, tobacco and old expensive leather. The finish is long, dry and balanced. And as with the 59, it was great with the food.
89p (tasted 2015/07)
Both bottles were a positive surprise, in that they were in such good shape and also held up for several hours. The 1961 took the prize in this head to head match.
The last time I had the fortune to try these vintages head to head was a couple of years back when we had the opportunity to drink 1959 and 1961 Château Mouton Rothschild, and then the 1959 was a perfect wine, while the 1961 scored a measly 97p...:-)