Vintage – Wine Term of the Week

Vintage - Wine Term of the WeekThis week’s word is Vintage. The proper implementation of the word is to specify the year that the grapes were harvested.

A Vintage 2008 Bordeaux means that the crop of grapes that produced it was harvested in that year. The opposite of vintage is the term “nonvintage” which refers to blending grapes from crops of two or more years in the interest of consistency. As it pertains to certain wines like Port, vintage is often used to designate a crop that produces very high quality grapes but this isn’t necessarily the correct usage for all wines.

Much like last week’s word (Terroir), the importance of vintage is a highly debatable topic in wine circles. There will obviously be variations in the fruit from year to year which is attributable to the weather and other factors. Whether these differences enhance or degrade the wine will always be disputed.

The methods of wine production have become more streamlined over the years. Because of this many wine experts feel that the vintage of the vines is not as much of a determinant of quality as in the past. Very average vintages often yield better than average wines.

As this is meant to be a fun, fact finding expedition, I won’t start a debate about how big of a factor vintage is. There have been numerous blind taste tests done between different vintages and the results are widely varied.

As I keep educating myself on this fascinating subject, I’m finding that there are arguments abound. I wish we could all just get along.

“The best vintage is the vintage we have to sell” — Greene (A common Bordelais saying)

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