Vintage Blues: What a difference a year makes

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I remember when Umber introduced me to Meridian Chardonnay in 1995, boy I was in love with that wine.  However, a couple of months later, it never seemed to have the same flair that it had before.  The reason was the vintage, and that I had experienced a previous vintage that is wonderful.   

This time around, I was confronted with a different let down, and that it is from Now & Zen.  Last year, I had a wonderful 2006 Wasabi White and this year I have the 2007 Alsace White.  Now, I think that they simply changed the name, but both me and a friend can only taste grapefruit in this wine this time around, and that is disheartening.  I wish that I can find the phone number for the producer so that I can call them and bitch about it; they’re French, so they’ll probably just hang up on me.  Last year got a rating of five, this year gets a rating of five.  

Anyway, vintage refers to the year that a wine was produced, and for most wines with a year printed on them, that is the year in which the grapes were grown and harvested.  There is an exception though, and that deals with wines like Madeira and Port which use methods of mixing a percentage of one year’s grapes, with another year’s grapes in a cascading fashion so that the final product could have grapes from six to twenty or more years in it; it’s kind of like making and passing on a German Friendship cake.   

Wines without their vintage listed are what’s called non-vintage wines, and for the most part, they are about the same as assembly line Model-T Fords; they are all the same.  This is not to say that there are no great non-vintage wines, but most of these are simply   And again, the exception are dessert and fortified wines, like this Il Santo that I just opened.  

But you’ve seen the scene in a movie or a television show where someone orders a bottle of wine, and the waiter gives them credit because of the good choice that they made, not only because of the wine, but especially because of the vintage chosen.  You know, the funny thing is that most waiters don’t really know that much about wine except for what they’re taught, and again, they’re teaching is usually based around the wrong core of concepts.  You should drink what you like to drink, barring that knowing the certain wines are basically a [bad] introduction into the world of wine; yes, I am calling out White Zinfandel, White Merlot and what other mass-produced and mass-marketed crap that capitalists have made in order to reap massive sales from a non-wine experienced marketplace.  

There are some excellent harvests, and they are usually based upon the growing season, and those are when people within the world of wine start looking for wines produced in those growing seasons.  But on the flip side, there are bad harvests, where the wines produced don’t measure up to the normalized standard of the wine from year to year.  Some producers won’t commercially release a wine because they don’t want to dilute their brand and their reputation.  Other producers will simply churn out product, substandard or otherwise.  I am ashamed at Now & Zen. Summarily, pay attention to both what you’re drinking, and the year that it’s produced.  Some wines shouldn’t be consumed until they mature, and sometimes, some wines are still offered for consumption past their potable periods.   

Well, that’s my article for today.  As always, good drinking.

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