What the F*** is Vintage? And why does it matter?

Vintage is something wine wankers go on and on about, citing how incredible a year was for the wine, for the region, and as if God willed every wine that year to be magnificent simply because it was bon that year. Vintage is just that, the date you will see on a wine label that indicates what year it was harvested and made. The environment the grapes are grown in has a massive effect on the wine, and the vintage is the mark that tells us what conditions the wine was grown in.

So does vintage really matter?

Vintages matter, but there are conflicting reports to just how much they matter and how significant of an indicator vintage is when judging the quality of a wine. That is why we at Vynl went through every argument, read up on topics, spoke to sommeliers, winemakers, and wine gurus to find out what it meant, and create the ultimate guide to vintage and wines.

But first, when talking about vintage there are some key things to understand when someone describes a vintage:

·      Good Vintage – Everything is balanced, in terms of rain, tempretures, and length of seasons
·      Bad Vintage – Things came in excess, too much or too little rain, really hot summers, or long lasting warm weather. May also include some strange weather, like surprise hailstorms.
·      Great Vintages – Everything was ideal, nature seemed to smile on the winemaker and nothing was out of place.

 

The fact of the matter is, winemakers will make wine every year regardless of how good or bad the weather has been overall that year. In fact when nature has not been too kind, winemakers will often work harder to make the wine good, or at least to the level that they desire. Any winemaker worth their salt, who takes pride and care in what they make, will work hard to make good wine no matter the conditions. That means, for most wine, the differences are not so stark that most of us wine drinkers will notice. For most of us, who are drinking wine around the $20 mark, and buying wine for immediate consumption, vintage does not matter.

For most of us, who are drinking wine around the $20 mark, and buying wine for immediate consumption, vintage does not matter.

 

Are you sure?

Well, yes! Most of us won’t notice the differences between good and bad vintages, but for the serious wino, the connoisseur, and those desiring the finer things in life, vintage really is important. For fine wines, good and bad vintages have an effect on a wine’s age worthy factor, to see just how long you can hold on to a wine for. This makes it a major factor in the quality of a wine. This is why you might see the same wine from the fancy winemakers cost over $100 one year, but under $100 the next.

For fine wines, good and bad vintages have an effect on a wine’s age worthy factor, to see just how long you can hold on to a wine for. This makes it a major factor in the quality of a wine.

Some regions are of course more volatile than others, so vintage matters even more. Bordeaux is notorious for its volatile climate so wines can be fantastic one year but absolutely terrible the next. Similar regions are Washington, Oregon and Chile.

 

So what do we do?

Well, like anything in life, knowledge is power. You’ll enjoy the wines more if you know a thing or two about the vintage. For most of us though, vintage does not matter, especially when buying wines for immediate consumption and just chilling. So unless you want to carry around a pocket table of good and bad vintages region by region, or be continuously studying French weather patterns, vintage is not really that impo