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Understanding Wine Vintage Charts

The term ”vintage” refers to the year that grapes were grown for making a particular type of wine. The quality of wine produced in a certain region will vary from year to year depending on the climate and weather conditions to which the fruit is exposed before it is harvested. Vintage wine charts help buyers find good years in a vineyard”s production by showing ratings for every year in a certain wine region. A spring frost or particularly wet season can damage a crop of grapes and affect the quality of wine produced; vintage wine charts reflect this information and can help to guide buyers toward favorable years. Accuracy of Vintage Wine Charts Although vintage charts can be a useful source of general information about wine quality, the charts are based on averages and thus there are always exceptions to the rule. In almost any vintage year from any region, there are likely to be both outstanding wines and also some poor quality wines included. Furthermore, vintage charts are compiled by people who may have tastes and predilections that differ greatly from your own. While the charts can be helpful guidelines, in the end, it”s up to your own taste buds to decide whether a wine makes the A-list or gets corked. The Making of a Good Vintage A good vintage yields a crop of healthy grapes that are neither too sweet nor overly acidic. This flavorful balance, based on the ripeness of the grapes produced, is the main determining factor in whether a vintage is deemed worthy by connoisseurs. But what factors produce a yield of healthy, balanced grapes? Climate and weather fluctuations are the primary determining forces. Specifically, weather conditions several weeks before the harvest and also during harvest time can make or break a vintage for a particular year. The last few weeks before harvest are a critical time during the grapes” ripening process, when dramatic shifts in weather can destroy or alter the character of the crop. When it Rains, it”s Poor If it is a particularly rainy season, the grapes will become bloated and lose their flavor, leading to a diluted, tasteless wine. A rainy season also adds to the threat of fungal diseases. Wines from cold, rainy years are likely to have higher levels of acidity. High acidity in wine will obscure the other flavors and create a lower quality vintage. When meteorologists predict rain during harvest season, wine producers are faced with the decision of whether to harvest their grapes early or risk a bloated, flavorless crop. Heat, Frost and Profit Losses On the other hand, a hot, dry year can yield grapes lower in acidity, producing higher quality wines. In most regions, a wine producer”s livelihood is very much tied to the seasons; fine weather will usually increase the market value of wines produced during a year and give them favorable ratings in vintage wine charts. Another risk factor that can alter the success of a harvest is frost. In most Old […]

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Vintage Charts For Wine Connoisseurs

Using wine charts can provide a gateway into understanding more about wine for budding connoisseurs. Vintage wine charts rate wines based on a 1-10 or 1-100 scale, helping buyers to discern what years have been particularly good for a vineyard or a region, so they can make informed decisions before purchasing wine. Understanding Vintage Charts A wine”s vintage refers to the year that the grapes were harvested for its making. Wine charts review the quality of a wine and can help the connoisseur to: asses the overall quality of the wine find a rating for the wine”s aroma, balance and flavor learn when it is best to drink or hold a particular bottle of wine understand the environmental conditions under which the grapes were grown. Although wine charts are based on averages, and so cannot offer comprehensive information about all the wine produced during a particular year, understanding vintage charts and staying up with the growing conditions in particular regions can help increase the likelihood of purchasing some excellent bottles of wine. The Importance of Growing Seasons One of the most important items to take note of on a wine chart is the grape”s growing season. Regional climate is everything when growing grapes. Any negative climate changes during the grapes” growing season can have a detrimental effect on the harvest. A favorable season will yield grapes with flavor that is delicately balanced between sweetness and acidity. Tasty grapes will inevitably produce a wonderful wine. Helpful Wine Terminology In order to best understand vintage charts, learning some basic wine terminology may be of help. Below, you will find some useful popular vocabulary words: Balance: The elements of a good wine will include equal notes of fruitiness, sweetness, alcohol and acidity. Blend: The blend of a wine may include a variety of different grapes. For example, a selection of champagne grapes harvested at a particular chateaux in France may be used. Body: A wine”s body refers to the heaviness or lightness of the wine once it is in your mouth. The body of a wine is key when selecting food pairings. Bouquet: The fragrance and aroma of the wine. The smell of a wine is just as important as its taste. Dry: Wines that have a small amount or no amount of sugar are considered dry. Finish: After drinking a wine, the taste and sensation left in the mouth is referred to as the finish. Oaky: Wines that have been aged in an oak barrel will have a woody flavor. Sparkling Wine: Wines that have bubbles. A popular sparkling wine is Champagne. Tannin: A taste only present in red wine. Varietal: The variety of a grape(s) used to create a particular wine. Learning about Different Wines Vintage charts are a great tool when delving into unfamiliar wines in different regions and expanding your wine horizons. Understanding vintage charts will also assist with knowing how to store your wine, as well as the proper serving temperature. Wine charts will give you guidelines on […]

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Vintage Wine Charts

A wine”s vintage refers to the year that the grapes were picked for its making. Variations in climate and weather conditions effect the quality and taste of grapes harvested from a particular region and influence whether the wine produced that year will be deemed a good or bad vintage. The first vintage wine chart appeared in 1855, inspired by the most prized French wines of the time, those of the Bordeaux region. In an attempt to rate the quality of these wines, critics devised a system based on the reputation of each wine, and this rating often determined the wine”s auction value. Understanding Vintage Wine Charts Today, many critics still utilize charts to rank wines according to their perceived value. Wine vintage charts are a way of grading wines based on a numerical scale, which is usually one to 100, but can also be one to 10, depending on the wine critic”s particular system. The wine is assigned a grade based on its flavor, aroma, the balance of sweetness and acidity and other qualities. Vintage charts are often divided into sections, with wines grouped according to region and climatic conditions. For example, all the wines from the Champagne region of France would be grouped together because they share the same climate. The wines are then ordered according to the year that they were produced. The purpose of vintage wine charts is to provide buyers with ratings for every year in a particular region so that they can make informed decisions when purchasing wine. When unfavorable weather conditions, such as frost or abundant rain, damage a crop of grapes in a region, it will likely translate to a poor rating in vintage wine charts, steering buyers away from a lower-quality purchase. Cons of Vintage Wine Charts Although vintage charts can be a useful source of general information about wine quality, wine chart ratings should not be used as the predominant indicators of a wine”s value. Here are a few reasons why vintage wine charts fall short of offering a comprehensive assessment of wines: It”s a matter of taste: Vintage charts are compiled by people whose tastes and may differ greatly from your own. While the charts can be helpful guidelines, in the end, your own taste buds should be the best judge of a wine”s quality. Ratings are based on averages: In almost any vintage year from any region, there are likely to be both outstanding wines and also some awful wines included. Because of these variations, there are exceptions to the rule in any rating. Quality prevails: No matter how ideal the weather conditions in a certain region, the truth is that some vineyards are not as highly regarded as others. For instance, a wine produced by an experienced vintner in a difficult year will often taste better than a wine made by a less skilled wine producer in a year hailed as having excellent growing conditions. New World wines don”t count: In many regions, harvest years make little difference […]

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World Vintage Charts

“A vine bears three grapes — the first of pleasure, the second of drunkenness and the third of repentance.” With apologies to Scythian philosopher Anacharsis, wine classification has become a bit more refined since 600 BC. Classification systems known as vintage wine charts show ratings for every year in a certain wine region and can be useful guides when buying quality wines. A convenient aspect of these charts is that they also often indicate when to hold and when to drink the wines. Defining a Wine”s Vintage A wine”s vintage refers to the year in which the grapes were harvested. It also hints at both the weather conditions in which the grapes grew and the quality of the grapes. Paying attention to a wine”s vintage can be important for the discerning buyer, helping to identify years in which the weather might have had an ill affect on the quality of the grapes. That said, it”s also important to keep in mind that vintage charts are based on averages, so although a vintage may be purportedly bad in a certain region, there may still be some bottles of wine within that year that are of outstanding caliber. You never know, and vintage charts only provide a fair guess at the quality of a wine. Another factor to consider is that there are no set criteria for “outstanding” except the taste buds of the experts compiling the charts. Obviously, tastes differ. How to Use Vintage Wine Charts World vintage charts are usually divided according to regions that share both general climactic properties and soil composition. Wines from the Bordeaux region of France, for example, are grouped together due to their similarities. A vintage chart for this region will then be ordered according to the year of production. Vintage charts also grade wines based on their taste, aroma, balance and other qualities along a point scale. While some charts are based on a 100-point scale, others work within a 10-point system. Oenophiles determined to drink well on the cheap just need to do a bit more research. Many great wines are hidden in years that are sub-par overall. Take some time to cull the vintage charts and you”ll have a head start in finding some real bargains. World Vintage Charts by Region The Bordeaux region of France has long been famous for producing wonderful, high-quality wines. Located close to the ocean, this wine-producing region is noted for its humid climate and moist soil. Its temperate climate, consisting of warm summers and mild winters, allows the winemakers of Bordeaux to produce wine year round. In fact, experts estimate that Bordeaux produces around 700 million bottles of wine each year. Burgundy is another famous wine-producing region in France. Given its distinct climate and soil conditions, the Burgundy region mainly produces Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. Champagne is a renowned French region known to produce its own distinct wines. In fact, the bubbly that we open for New Year”s Eve and other special occasions can only […]

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