Among all wines, vintage wines are the most highly regarded and sought after. What are vintage wines? To put it simply, a wine’s vintage tells the buyer the year in which the grapes were picked. But sparkling and fortified wines including Champagne are non-vintage. They are made from a mix of different vintage wines.
Importance of Vintage
What is the difference between two wines made by the same producer from the same grapes obtained from the same vineyards? The answer is the year of production which plays a key role in determining the type of wine that is bottled.
Importance of Weather
The weather plays an important role and decides the quality of grapes produced and correspondingly the quality of wine extracted from them. Soggy weather one year and hot conditions the next year will both yield wines of different kinds. Producers wait for a good year to produce a vintage wine. The grapes have to be of high quality and normally only about four or five vintages are made in a decade.
Poor weather can wreak havoc on wine production. Australia is particularly affected by the El Nino cycle which creates unpredictable weather situations to harm the fortunes of wine producers. Heavy rains and drought conditions are both detrimental to wine production. A long and warm summer often ensures a good crop of grapes which enables producers to make exceptional vintage wines.
Difference between Two Vintage Wines
Why is one vintage different from another? This is because the weather of wine-growing regions varies from place to place. And grape varieties respond differently and uniquely to climatic conditions. For example in South Australia, growers in the Barossa Valley favour the Syrah/Shiraz variety of grapes as these respond well to sunny and dry conditions. Loire Valley growers are partial to Sauvignon Blanc which favours cool and damp conditions.
Test of a Good Quality Winemaker
A good wine producer’s calibre is tested by poor weather conditions that are hostile to the variety of grapes grown in the region. An expert producer will use his skills and experience to manipulate the vinification process and produce a vintage blend by extracting the best performance from the available grapes. A quality winemaker can produce a good wine even from poor grapes. He does not let factors like the weather affect his creations. Even if the weather is not conducive, he can salvage the wine by masterfully employing techniques and interventions to influence the vinification process and create a reasonably consistent wine.
Before buying a vintage wine, do your homework and check the weather pattern of the region for the specific year. This will give you an idea about the quality of wine produced that year. This basic fact checking will ensure you buy vintage wine of good quality that can be enjoyed and cherished.
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