The Art of Choosing a Good Vintage Year for Wine

The Art of Choosing a Good Vintage Year for Wine

Selecting a good vintage can turn a simple wine experience into an extraordinary one. But how do you navigate through decades of wine to discover these gems? Finding the right vintage can sometimes be defeating and confusing when shopping. But with a few simple tips, you should be able to find just what you’re looking for. Here’s our guide to help you understand, research, and pick a wine vintage year that stands out for its quality and taste! 

Understanding Vintage Years

First off, let’s start with what a vintage year is. When we talk about ‘vintage’ it simply just means the specific year the grapes were harvested to make the wine. This year can greatly influence the wine’s flavor due to weather conditions, like rain or drought, affecting the grapes during their growing season.

Note: There are also NV wines or Non-Vintage wines that take grapes from multiple vineyards, seasons, or years to create a blend. 

How to Research a Good Vintage

Start with the Region

Wine is all about location. Begin by focusing on the specific region or country you’re interested in because weather conditions can significantly vary across wine-producing areas.

Look for Vintage Charts:

Many wine magazines and websites offer vintage charts. I would highly recommend these sites to start: Wine Spectator Charts, Wine Enthusiast Charts, and Wine Searcher Charts. While there are many sites out there with Vintage charts, I think these are a good place to start if you’re just beginning to understand vintages. These charts rank years in specific regions based on the overall quality of the wines produced.

Read Reviews:

Expert reviews can provide insight into the specific characteristics of wines from certain years. Pay attention to descriptions that align with your taste preferences.

Discuss with Local Wine Sellers:

Don’t underestimate the knowledge of your local wine sellers. They often have first-hand experience and can suggest excellent vintages you might overlook.

Examples of Good Vintage Years and Why

2010 Bordeaux, France:

This year was exceptional for Bordeaux because of its perfect balance of sunny days and cool nights, leading to wines that are structured, complex, and have great aging potential.

2012 Barolo, Italy:

The 2012 vintage in Barolo stands out for its aromatic, full-bodied wines with deep flavors. A warm summer followed by a cool harvest period allowed for optimal grape ripening.

2015 Napa Valley, California:

Napa Valley experienced near-ideal conditions in 2015, with an early and light harvest that resulted in wines with concentrated flavors and robust tannins. These wines are known for their longevity.

2016 Willamette Valley, Oregon:

This year was a winner for Pinot Noir in Willamette Valley, with a warm and consistent growing season leading to wines that are both lush and delicately balanced. 

Final Tips

Taste Before You Buy:

If possible, participate in tastings to directly experience the flavors of different vintages.

Aging Potential:

Keep in mind that some vintages might be better suited for aging. A good vintage today could become an outstanding one in several years.

Budget Wisely:

Higher prices don’t always mean better quality. I remember buying a 2012 Italian Chiani when I first started getting really into wine. It was $168 at a total wine and the wine was terrible! Remember that with research, you can find exceptional vintages that won’t break the bank.

Selecting a wine by its year adds another layer of appreciation to your wine experience. It’s a blend of science, art, and a bit of adventure. So equip yourself with knowledge, and embark on a journey to discover the exceptional vintages that await.

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