The notion of vintage is an important one in wine. It is also historical because it traces back those that were great, good and... the others. Even if this concept remains important today, it does not have the same meaning as before. For example: the press often praises vintages like 1929, 1945, 1947, 1961... and only those from a handful of chateaux. They are undeniably prestigious (Lafite, Mouton, Cheval Blanc, Latour... ), but what about 1930, 1931, 1932 ... and 1951, 1952... as well as 1963, 1965, 1968, 1972, 1973, 1974 ?
Yet they all existed but nobody talks about them!
One of these days, history must recall that the notion of vintage - that still exists today - is to be totally reviewed. 1993, 1994 and 1997: three vintages of the last ten years considered as "poor" but there are around 15 to 20 different chateaux that produced wines which are perfectly acceptable. 1999, 2002 and 2004: many wines are remarkable and to be drunk early but that offer great pleasure! They can be full of fruit and charm.
Of course, there are also 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005... Perhaps we have got used to drinking great vintages because of their reputation rather than for the pleasure they give when tasted in their youth. It is much nicer to drink some 2002s today instead of the 2000s that are quite closed and austere.
What is the conclusion?
As the saying goes "if you want something done, do it yourself" - so you must taste! Notes given by journalists will never equal your own personal taste to tell if you will enjoy such and such wine. And at the end of the day that's what really counts.