What is a good vintage? Let’s start with what a vintage is. A vintage refers to the year the grapes were harvested to make a wine. It does not refer to the year the wine was bottled, which may differ from the vintage. Usually, a wine’s vintage is printed on the front label and is easy to spot. If there is no vintage printed anywhere on the bottle, then it may be a “non-vintage” wine. This means that the grapes from more than one vintage went into the wine. This isn’t necessarily a reflection on the quality of the wine, although typically, the best wines are vintage wines from good vintages.
Ratings of vintages for particular regions are readily available, and can be a good guide to which wines to buy and which wines to avoid. However, these ratings are generalizations describing the conditions (mostly weather) for entire regions and they don’t always reflect individual producers or individual wines. The only way to know for sure if a wine if good, is to taste it for yourself.
Worth noting: prices often rise when a vintage is considered very good. Also, prices can be quite reasonable – sometimes they go down! – with wines from vintages that are considered below average. A shrewd buyer can often find a great deal in a wine that comes from a less than stellar vintage, but you have to know what you are looking for.
The best vintage guides are simple and to the point. There’s no need for these guides to be really complicated as they are generalizations anyway.
Stay tuned on Quini Wine for Part 2 where I’ll explore what makes a good vintage.