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How Important is the Vintage of a Wine?

The importance of vintage depends on the region of production and the quality of the wine.

In some regions there is very little vintage variation because the weather is quite consistent from year to year. In hot parts of Australia and California I’m really not too worried about the vintage date, but more concerned about the maturity of the wine. That’s to say that inexpensive wines are usually best drunk young while they are fresh and fruity, whilst top quality red wines often benefit from some age.

On the other hand, the vintage date can be of critical importance in cooler, more marginal climates. If it was a good year then the wines can be dramatically better in quality compared to a year when the heavens opened at harvest time and the crop suffered from dilution and rot. Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhone, parts of Germany and the classic northern Italian regions are classed as more susceptible to vintage variation. Prices can fluctuate according to the quality of the vintage, so it is important to ask a Product Consultant or check on the internet for the reviews.

On a few wines there are no vintage dates and so it’s not an issue. Non vintage Champagne is a classic example, and so are Ruby Ports and Sherries. This is because several vintages are blended together so the producer can achieve a degree of consistency in the house style.

Yes, it is difficult to keep up on the merits of vintages in dozens of wine regions around the world and few people have the time or inclination to stay up-to-date. But if you are buying some more expensive wine from classic areas it’s definitely worth finding out because it can mean the difference between a great bottle and a disappointment.


Blind Tasting Results for October

Congratulations to Lisa Clarke for winning the blind tasting at the October wine club event!

The wine was a 2009 Flying Winemaker Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina. Lisa guessed an Argentina Malbec from the 2009 vintage.

In the future, the name of the winner along with the details of the wine will be posted on our blog a few days after the wine club event. Please check that to see if you won!

Wine Tasting Club for October

Piedmont, Toscana and Veneto are only some of the wine regions within the country we will be exploring this Thursday evening at the monthly Fine Vintage Tasting Club in Vancouver. With over 1,000 wine-making varietals, there is always something new to discover about Italy’s wine.

This month’s Fine Vintage Tasting Club theme is Wines from Italy. With our new low rate of only $19.99 a month, why not bring a friend?

Law Courts, Thursday, October 27th from 6pm to 8:30pm.  Please register online at

Spain and Bordeaux

There were a whole bunch of highlights from a race around Spain, the weekend in Tuscany and then 5 days in Bordeaux.

In Spain, the 160 year old bush vines in Toro at Numanthia were quite something. They looked liked they had been harvested already but in fact they just had a few tiny bunches of grapes on them.

The tasting at Vega was outstanding with such long ageing before release (10 years), and the quality surpassed expectations. We had lunch with Alejandro Fernadez, the king of Ribera, at Pesquera. He started singing and dancing with all the girls. 5 hour lunch….

In Rioja the wines at Remelluri were some of the best of the trip, but THE highlight has to be Lopez de Heredia and their 100+ year old vats, the 10+ year in barrel for some wines, the maze of underground cellars, and on and on…

Then again, spending an afternoon with Telmo Rodriguez tasting almost extinct Spanish varieties wasn’t exactly boring.

In Bordeaux, Remi at Domaine de Chevalier gives the best explanation about “wine” I have ever heard from anyone anywhere. We had lunch with Michel Rolland’s right hand man – another 4 hour lunch. We saw the new cellar at Cheval Blanc. The lenght of the 2004 was the only clue it was a great wine – too young. And the visit to Joanne to see their negociant operation was as impressive and fun as ever.

After at least 200 wines and 3 countries I’ll be on the water for a bit…