Vintage Wine by Year
One of the most important factors in choosing your wine can be the year in which it was made. Taking aside for a moment, the pleasure in finding anniversary vintages for special occasions from someone’s birth year or the year they were married, the year a wine is made can make a big difference on the quality of the wine. This is because the weather throughout the growing season can have a huge impact. A frost at the start of the season can seriously reduce the yield, yet improve the quality of the grapes and therefore that vintage of the wine. And too much rain at the end of the season can cause the grapes to swell and result in thin, insipid wines.
Some of the greatest wines of Bordeaux came from the 1961, 1982 and 1990 vintages with 1982 Saint Julien, Saint Estephe and Pauillac scoring an impressive 98 points out of 100 from acclaimed wine critic Robert Parker. Similarly, Riojas from 1970, 1981 and 1982 were highly acclaimed and 1985, 1988 and 1990 were superb vintages for just about all Italian wines. These tend to be the hard to find vintages. Over the last 10 years, with a few exceptions, all vintages have ranged from good to excellent and there are numerous fine and every day wines to be found which represent excellent value. Needless to say, rare vintage wine from older, top vintages are becoming harder to find and prices can be astronomical (a case of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1961 would cost the same as a new family car).
As with most things there are exceptions with vintage wines. Many producers will make great wines, with good ageing potential in the worst rated years. Maybe they didn’t suffer from late rains, or maybe they picked their grapes before the rains arrived. And, as you would expect, the skill of the winemaker is of paramount importance. There are also numerous of examples of wine critics getting it wrong and sometimes a hard to find vintage wine that did not drink that well when young, is superb when it has been aged for a period. These wines can make excellent vintages for special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries.