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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 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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