Wine and Vintage

    07/01/2016

The quality of wine is determined by many factors such as: Terroir (vineyards soil, geographic location, local climate), Vine (age and grape variety),Vine –cultivation practices (pruning, harvesting..) Vinification processes, maturing, storage, ageing condition and the weather which impacts on the Vintage quality.

What is Vintage and how does it impact on the quality of wine?

First of all, Vintage wine is One made from grapes that were grown, harvested and made in a single specified year or blended with minor portion of other year and that year is put on wine labels. Vintage is normally shown on red, rosé and white wine. Wine without vintage is usually cheap and low-quality. Except for Champagne and some sparkling wines, there is no vintage on their bottles because winemakers blend wines made from different years to maintain the consistence of  their quality. Furthermore, Champagne is made using only selected grapes in the best years.Champagne with Vintage is highly valued. Similarly, sweet wines of Sauternes from France are not made every year and Port wine from Portugal may have vintage and non-vintage.

Each vintage brings different quality of grape and finished wine. Why the wine is  produced in, same winery, with the same grape varieties, natural factors and winemaking method…but quality of wine is different from vintage to vintage. The crucial factor influenced on vintage is the weather.

The weather includes rainfall, sun light, wind, thunder, lightning, frost, fog, humidity, hail and natural phenomena like El Niño and La Niña. Among these factors, the major ones with high impact on the  process of vine growth are as below:

Rainfall: If it rains too much close to the harvest time, grapes will be watery, tasteless and substandard. Green plant, green pepper, fresh grass and spinach odor could be on the palate. The wine taste is high in acidity and tough, dry tart and bitter, unbalanced structure making it uncomfortable to drink for taster.

Sun light: If it has too much sun light exposure, the flavor is overripe with fig and raisin and black fruit aroma. Wine with these strong flavors will have high alcohol content and is not balanced. Therefore, in the years with high temperature, winery often harvest grapes at night or early morning and early than scheduled to avoid grapes from over ripeness. In normal years, late harvest grapes have the aroma similar to fruit jams and smooth on the taste.

Frost and humidity: If frost and high humidity occur at the time vines bloom, they make it difficult for pollination and reduce the quality of grapes.(coulure)
 

Note that wine with the same vintage is different from country to country because the countries located in the Northern hemisphere often harvested in September or October while the Southern ones harvested in March or April. Moreover, in the same country with the same wine vintage, red wine may be inferior but white wine is better because of the cooler temperature of that year.

The difference of vintage is clear in some countries, such as France with Bordeaux, Burgundy or Champagne, etc. and some regions of Italy like Piedmont, Tuscany or other regions of America and Australia. The difference of vintage is mostly  for premium wines. For other countries such as Chile, Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand, vintage differences is not too big different , so quality and price usually remain stable.

Another significant aspect of vintage is the age of wine. The most important rule is wine has to be stored in a good condition. Each wine has its own age and frame time of maturity. Therefore, when you buy wine, you should pay attention to their age because not all wine could be cellared for a long time and not all holding wines would become tastier as time passes.

Almost all medium-quality white, rose and red should be consumed early, the best time for consumption is up to 3 to 4 years from production. Only premium wine can be kept for in long-term storage because it can be more matured and improve in quality, meanwhile, cheap wines will be degraded or spoiled in long-term storage.

The reasonable time for consumption depends on each vintages. To know exactly how long the wine can be reserve in order to achieve the optimum quality, the best time for consumption and which vintage is good, you should ask for advice from wine specialists and people who have good knowledge about wine.

Here are some suggestions for selecting good vintage

France

Bordeaux/ Medoc/Pesac-Lesognan: 1959, 1961, 1982, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2014

Bordeaux/Pomerol/St Émilion:  1959, 1961, 1982, 1986, 1989, 1998, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2003,2005, 2009, 2010

Bordeaux/ Graves white: 2000, 2005, 2009, 2010

Bordeaux/Sauternes sweet: 1959, 1967, 1989, 2001, 2009, 2011, 2014

Burgundy: Red 1985, 1990, 1996, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2012

                   White 1985, 1995,1996, 2005, 2008, 2010

Champagne: 1982, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1995, 1996, 2002, 2006

Alsace:  2001, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010

North Rhône:  1990, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010

South Rhône:  1989, 1998, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010

Italy

Piedmont Barolo /Barbaresco : 1985, 1989, 1990, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010

Tuscany/Bolgheri, Maremma: 1997, 1998, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2011

Tuscany/Brunello di Montalcino: 1997, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2010

Tuscany/Chianti, Chianti Classico: 1997, 1999, 2006, 2007, 2011

Spain

Rioja Đỏ: 2001, 2004, 2005, 2010

Ribera Del Duero Red: 1994, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2010

Priorat Red: 2001, 2004, 2005, 2012

Australia

Barossa/McLaren Vale Shiraz: 1996, 1998, 2005, 2010, 2012

Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon: 1996, 2003, 2005, 2012

Victoria , Shiraz: 1998, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2013

USA

Orgeron Pinot Noir: 2002, 2008, 2010, 2012

Napa Cabernet Sauvignon: 1985, 1986, 1987, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2004 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012

Napa Chardonnay: 1996, 1997,2002, 2007, 2009, 2012

Napa Zinfaldel: 1994, 1995, 2007, 2008, 2009

Sommelier

Alex Thinh

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