This is a point (in a long line of other points) that I‘ve been meaning to address. Let me start out by saying that (in case you haven’t noticed), I really skew my voice (and therefore my content) on this website toward what I see as the majority of the wine buying public. The masses, if you will! This audience being; people who obviously enjoy wine, people who want to know more about wine, but at the same-time, people who don’t necessarily want to spend $30+ on every wine bottle purchase. The casual drinkers!
To confirm this, I received one of my greatest compliments in November of last year when a fan of the website approached me in public (I was wearing a t-shirt with the website logo on at the time), and he stated “I love your site! It’s a wine guide for the rest of us!” That comment was one of the first times that signaled to me that I am headed in the right direction with this content.
I will go on record and state that there are plenty of other wine sites out there if you’re looking for a little more poetic license, or wine tasting notes which wax lyrical. But I personally just don’t have it in me to write in that style. I also have to say that it has found me a little while to find my true voice on this website. I hate to say that I’ve been holding back, but I guess I have, so for that I apologize.
Glad I got that out of the way…on to the article!
I am often asked “Was this a good year for this wine?” or “Is it true that XXXX was a bad year for this region!”
Wine vintages are such a tricky thing to understand, so I don’t possibly think I can cover too much ground in this one article. All I’m hoping to convey is where I personally stand on the concept of wine vintages.
My mantra for “the masses” i.e. the general wine buying public has (and I think always will be, although it’s hard to predict the future), IGNORE VINTAGES!
To me I generally find them meaningless. My thoughts behind such a statement has come from tasting plenty of wines produced in “not so great” years, and having been thoroughly impressed with them, and vice-versa. So do I think you should stay away from a particular wine because you heard / read it was a bad year for that region? No, I don’t think so, but I’m sure there are plenty who will disagree with me on that point.
I believe technology and the talent of winemakers is now so great that it’s possible to make amazing wine, in even the most mediocre of years. It obviously can’t be forgotten that quality grapes are the basis for a good wine, but with good vineyard management, that too can be handled (for the most part) in a poor vintage.
For me, the only time vintages really come into play is when you are dealing with cellaring a wine i.e. planning on keeping it around for the long haul, or trying to work out the best time to open a bottle after cellaring.
All of the aforementioned slandering of vintage charts doesn’t mean to suggest that they don’t have a place (although I GUARANTEE they will start dying out as the Millennial’s take over), but I think it unwise to treat them as the final word on a wine from a producer in a given year.
The Wine Spectator magazine used to print (I’m sure they still do, although I no longer subscribe) a pocket-size vintage chart, so that when you are walking round your local wine boutique, you can whip out your handy-dandy little piece of folding cardboard, and use it to decide whether a wine is suitable to grace your lips. Admittedly I myself kept the offending piece of cardboard in my wallet for some years, however I think if consumers are learning to trust anything for on-the-fly wine info, it will be the new era of apps / reviews on their cell phone. User created content which gives taps into the general consensus of the wine guying public.
With all of this being said, it’s probably worth remembering that any role that vintage charts play, or as good as technology gets; neither one will ever be able to replace your own palate!