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  Editorial Issue 21, Summer 2004   
The Importance of VintageThe Importance of Vintage MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
Issue 20, June 2004 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 22, September 2004

The Importance of Vintage


 Every wine lover - as well as everyone who is getting into the charming world of the beverage of Bacchus - knows that among fundamental factors determining the quality of a wine is also included vintage. It does not only represent an important factor: the vintage is often considered as the only element in order to determine the real value - not only the money value - of a wine. In many cases vintage is the determining factor for the economic value of a wine, in particular as time passes by and, sometimes, even in case the keeping of the bottle was not the best. How actually important is the vintage of a wine? Of course - and indisputably - it is an extremely important factor but it is also true it is not the only factor capable of making a wine great. It should also be remembered - to tell the truth - that most of the times the myth of the vintage is also used for a disputable speculation.

 Let's make this concept clear from the beginning: vintage is important and according to the meteorological condition of the seasons, it is fundamental in determining a good part, and probably more than that, of the sentence about the quality of a wine. It should be however remembered a fundamental concept indissolubly connected to vintage and that allows consumers to prevent certain speculations. Since some years - an event which seems to magically and questionably repeat itself every time - as the harvesting period is about to come, it is frequently heard talking about the so called “vintage of the century” capable of promising great wines wherever and however. Finally those wines are poured in glasses and everyone has the chance to deny or confirm the premises of the year. Whereas it is understandable the reason of many rumors for purely commercial purposes, it is less understandable - as well as less agreeable - the honesty and the low credibility towards consumers. Of course, no one has a crystal ball to certainly tell the future, anyway a bit of seriousness would not be bad in some cases.


 

 In considering a vintage - which certainly plays an important role - it is good to remember that it only and uniquely makes sense when applied to a specific area, and in order to be more exacting, it has a higher value only in pretty small and limited areas. Whether it is true the quality of the vintage is determined by meteorological conditions, it is also true that, for example, in case in Umbria vintage was favored by good meteorological conditions, this does not mean that all the wine areas of the world had the very same positive conditions. Two emblematic examples are represented by vintages 1997 and 2002. 1997 has been defined as the best vintage of the last century - although it could be defined, polemically talking according to the repeated rumors of every year, one of the many defined as the best - and this was certainly true for some areas of the world, whereas in other ones it has been ordinary and modest. The same can be said about 2002, no matter it has been defined by many - rightly - as a non truly good vintage, in some areas it has however been capable of giving pretty good wines.

 In the sake of truth it should also be said the influence of the meteorological condition of a year is frequently compensated by the skill of the wine maker as well as by the support technology is capable of offering in the cellar. When the year is not particularly benevolent in the vineyard, most of the time it is the wine making technology which is capable of making real miracles - often unthinkable - in order to make acceptable even the worst conditions. In this regard it should be remembered the honesty of many producers who, having realized the not truly good meteorological condition of the year, prefer not to commercialize their wines or to sell them as more modest products, in particular at lower prices. Whether it is true this kind of choice is remarkable according to the honesty shown towards their customers, it is also true it represents an indisputable factor of seriousness for the safeguarding of the winery's best products. It is certainly true the choice of not commercializing these wines, or to reclassify them according to more appropriate standards for that vintage, represents an indisputable factor of honesty and seriousness, but it also indisputably represents a factor for economic loss. This is therefore a truly remarkable choice.

 Therefore, how can a consumer be safeguarded towards the vintage and - in particular - the speculation that can be made about this factor? It is frequently heard that in the worst or mediocre vintages it is best to choose wines from reliable producers, whereas in the best vintages “less famous” producers can be capable of making remarkable wines. In the less favorable years it is indisputable the technological factor and the skill of a good wine maker play a fundamental role for the improvement of a not truly excellent raw matter. In the best vintages - when the technological factor is less determinant because of a better quality of grapes - even “modest” producers are capable of making great wines. Does this mean that in order to make a quality wine it is necessary having modern and technologically advanced tools? Certainly not. No matter wine making technology now offers reliable and precise tools, allowing the control of the quality and the correctness of each stage, the human factor plays in the cellar - today as it was in the past - a role of primary importance.

 Despite human factor still plays an important role in the production of quality wine, it is indisputable the technological support has made the importance of vintage less determinant than it was in the past. It is thanks to wine making technology the gap among the many producers has been reduced while allowing them to make wines with less and less faults, however not helping at all to improve the producer's predisposition to quality. Of course, when the year is favorable, its support is reflected on wine in a strong and determinant way, sometimes making the wines produced in less favorable years appear very different as well as insignificant. Despite vintage represents an important factor, the skill of wine makers, as well as the technological support, avoid consumer to be continuously get informed about the real quality of a vintage and to be able to order a wine at the restaurant with a relative tranquility. Maybe the wine will not be exceptional in some vintages, however it will not even be very bad or disgusting, and it will however be appreciable. Finally vintage represents one of the many elements which makes a wine special and exciting, a factor that every year is capable of making the beverage of Bacchus different from another, with nuances and personalities that, in any case, are always capable of catching our attention and to tell different stories - either good or bad - by means of our senses.

 



   Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Editorial column ABC Wine 
  Editorial Issue 21, Summer 2004   
The Importance of VintageThe Importance of Vintage MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
Issue 20, June 2004 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 22, September 2004

MailBox


 In this column are published our reader's mail. If you have any comment or any question or just want to express your opinion about wine, send your letters to our editorial or fill in the form available at our site.

 

A friend of mine says she is good in making any kind of risotto. She challenged me: I will win an invitation for dinner in case I will propose good matching with wines. Can you please help me? What kind of criteria should I use in choosing a wine? Where can I find a list of wines meeting these criteria?
Giulio Genga -- Lomagna, Lecco (Italy)
The choice of a wine for the matching with a food can be determined not only by purely technical factors, but also by traditional reasons and, last but not the least, by indisputable subjective preferences as well. In case the choice of a wine is to be determined according to technical considerations - that is by making use of the concepts applied by enogastronomers - it is necessary to know not only the type of food, in your case risotto, but also and in particular the other ingredients used in the preparation of the recipe. According to this consideration , it is therefore not very useful - as well as not very reliable - suggesting one or more generic wines. Rice is a food rich in starch, having a basically sweet taste, therefore it can be matched with crisp and effervescent wines, that is white wines, sparkling wines and many rose wines. The discriminant factor it is however represented by the other ingredients completing the organoleptic profile of the recipe and useful in determining a good match. In case in your risotto there are vegetables - which basically have a sweet taste - the above mentioned styles of wines are still valid. The same considerations are also applicable in case the risotto is made with crustaceans or fish. In case in the risotto there is meat - which increases both the structure of the recipe and the succulence - it will be appropriate to choose a pretty alcoholic wine or a moderate tannic wine, therefore it could be chosen a white wine as well as a red wine. Interesting matching with risotto can be made with sparkling wines, whose effervescence and acidity are well matchable to rice, however the final choice of the sparkling wine will also be determined by other ingredients as well. Finally we suggest you our Wines Guide that, besides including all the wines tasted and published by DiWineTaste, it can also suggest a wine according to a specific food or recipe. It will be enough to enter in the “food” field the type of risotto, for example “risotto with shrimps and zucchini”, and the system will suggest you a list of wines matchable to your recipe. Good luck with your dinner invitation!



I keep bottles of red wine inside a cupboard in order to keep them away from light and with little changes of temperature. I was thinking about keeping my bottles inside the cases in which are sold and still inside this cupboard. Do you think this solution would change both the temperature and humidity?
Gino Biscardi -- Mestre, Venice (Italy)
Temperature and humidity represent fundamental factors for the good keeping of bottles of wine. Temperature strongly affects the aging process: for this reason it is preferred to keep bottles at a relatively low temperature - of about 14° C (57° F) - and it is essential this temperature to be constant. A temperature like that allows a slow and stable aging capable of favoring the best development of the organoleptic qualities. Humidity - which should ideally be about 70% - allows the good keeping of the mechanical and physical qualities of corks, in particular their elasticity, while avoiding dangerous shrinkage. In your case the internal temperature of the cupboard is strongly influenced by the room in which it is located at, with the exception, of course, in case you are using a so called “cellar fridge”. Cardboard has a certain thermal insulating property, however it also has the capacity of absorbing humidity. In case the environmental conditions offered by your cupboard are not particularly good, the keeping inside cardboard cases can offer a better stability of temperature which will however be influenced by the internal temperature of the cupboard. Whether it is true it is advisable to keep wines inside the cases in which they were sold - either made of cardboard or wood - it will be appropriate, whenever possible, to place the cupboard in a room offering good conditions of temperature and humidity, while covering the internal walls of the room, or simply the internal sides of the cupboard, with insulating sheets used for the building of houses in order to insulate them from heat.



   Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Editorial column ABC Wine 
  Editorial Issue 21, Summer 2004   
The Importance of VintageThe Importance of Vintage MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
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