vin et millesime

Wine and vintage: are all wines vintage?

Among the many criteria for purchasing a bottle of wine, enthusiasts are used to checking the vintage of the wine . This important information provides precise information on the quality of the wine, but is not part of the mandatory information on a label. Let's discover the importance of a vintage, and see if all wines are necessarily vintage.

 

Vintage of a wine: definition

The vintage is a concept which refers to the year of harvest of a wine . Thus, a Château de Berne 2018 is a rosé wine, a red wine or a white wine whose grapes were grown, harvested and vinified in 2018 by the winemaker.


To be able to mention the vintage of a wine on a wine bottle label , it is sufficient that at least 85% of the wine contained in the bottle comes from the same vintage.

Indeed, it is common for winegrowers to blend several wines from different vintages. Logically, not all wines are necessarily vintage .


However, there is one exception: champagne. Very often, a bottle of champagne is the result of a blend of several vintages from different years. This is generally a guarantee of the constant quality of a champagne from year to year. Thus, champagne is generally not vintage, and if it is, it is to highlight the climate of the main year of production.

 

The variation of the same wine from one year to the next

If the wine is vintage, it is in order to highlight the unique characteristics of the year of manufacture . Indeed, the grape is a living element, like any fruit. Its characteristics then vary greatly from one year to the next, according to different criteria:


  • Rain or shine;
  • Heat or cold;
  • The wind ;
  • Dryness or humidity…

All these elements have an impact on the vine, and have repercussions on the grapes from the same terroir, and therefore on the taste of the wine.

 

How to evaluate a vintage before the harvest?

Oenology experts have the ability to evaluate a vintage even before the grapes are harvested and vinified. How ? By relying on the weather! To produce a quality wine, several meteorological criteria must be met. Thus, just by observing the sky, the precipitation, the temperatures or even the wind, oenologists and winemakers know in advance if the wines will be sweet, acidic, or even tannic.

 

How do you know if a vintage wine will be good or not?

It is not always easy to make a choice when faced with the multitude of wines offered in stores, at the wine merchant, or in online wine stores . To help you, the vintage can be a guide.


Then refer to the weather of that same year, and you will have an idea of ​​the wine that awaits you. Be careful of excess! One might believe, for example, that a wine made during a heatwave is full of sunshine. However, excess sun dries out the grapes, giving a wine that is low in acidity and really too sweet, with little aging potential. Conversely, a very rainy year can result in wines affected by gray rot.

 

Small and great vintages: a myth?

Once we understand that the quality of a vintage depends on the weather conditions of the year the wine was made, we can understand that there are very good vintages (2005, 2009, 2020, etc.), and other very average (1992, 2000, 2004…).


These are of course only generalities, and we should not turn our back on small vintages , because everything also depends on the wine region of production and the type of wine. Let's take an example: the Loire Valley does not have the same weather at all as Provence, and not all grape varieties have the same requirements. The vintage is a good indication, but not an absolute truth!

 

AOC Côtes de Provence vintages

As we have seen, the quality of a vintage depends on the wine region and the type of wine. Let's then see the different vintages of the Côtes de Provence appellations of controlled origin .

Vintages according to wine denomination

If all the Côtes de Provence denominations agree to designate the years 2009 and 2010 as great vintages , and the year 2008 as a very good vintage , assessments vary for the other years.


In 2013, for example, the vintage is considered good for Côtes de Provence and Côtes de Provence Fréjus, but it is rather average for Côtes de Provence La Londe and Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire.

The vintages of Côtes de Provence wines according to their color

The AOC Côtes de Provence red, white and rosé wines had an exceptional year in 1998. On the other hand, very great vintages differ depending on the color of the wine:

  • Red wines: 1988, 1989 and 2001;
  • White wines: 1988;
  • Rosé wines: 1990.

Finally, if red wine and white wine from the 2002 vintage should be avoided, the same is not true for rosé wine, which experienced a poor harvest the following year, in 2003.

As you will have understood, a vintage is not a universal indication, and must be interpreted according to many other criteria.

 

The vintage of a wine is therefore a very good indicator of quality, but it should not be the only criterion to take into account when choosing a bottle of wine. To taste the best vintages of Provence wines , discover all the know-how of Château de Berne wines.


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