Understanding Vintage Wine
Definition of Vintage…
This use of this word generally suggests something is old, but also of distinction, boasting a quality worthy of the designation. Clothing, Cars, Photographs, Furniture, Instruments, Jewellery, Aircraft, Toys… these are all items that might one day gain the Vintage title.
The word, however, is perhaps most relevant to the world of wine. The very origins of the word demonstrate its close relationship with viticulture. The Latin word Vinum (wine) and Old French Vendage (to remove).
The harvest of grapes for the production of wine goes back to 6000 BC in Georgia and as far back as 7000 BC in China. That said, the quality of wines per annum was not formally recorded until the 15th century. Man begin to keep track of wine by carefully recording quality based on annual harvest.
It was not until the mid-1950s that winemakers began to fully understand the effect of Malolactic fermentation. It was only after this date that winemakers could control the finishing of the wines. Any vintage before this time would be unreliable. Needless to say, not many of us were drinking wines before 1956, and if we were offered the opportunity we would certainly not question the vintage!
Regional Vintage Wines
One final point to consider when looking at vintage is the region itself. In places like Northern Italy, Burgundy, Bordeaux, and the Rhône Valley, yearly variable conditions have a profound effect on the quality and personality of the wines. In regions where weather is more consistent as would be the case in Australia or Argentina the more consistent weather results in less of a Vintage effect.
The Into the Vineyard Vintage Guide
There’s no question for people buying quality wines to cellar knowing which years to take home is important. We have compiled a list of great vintages in these key regions for your interest, you can access it HERE.