VINTAGE VARIATION IS NOT EVIL… IT SHOULD BE CELEBRATED!

Welcome to my first blog post.  Let me start off  by saying that although I have a lot to say, I ‘m not a gifted writer.  There will be grammar and spelling errors, and perhaps more offensive things to follow, but I don’t care, nor do I have the time or desire to spend hours correcting and modifying.  I’m a busy guy….. So, what you read is what you get.  I hope you will enjoy, and thanks again for taking the time to hear me rant.  

Andrew J Bishop (owner Oz Wine Company) (AB)

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VINTAGE VARIATION IS NOT EVIL… IT SHOULD BE CELEBRATED!

Vintage variation is a topic I’ve been meaning to address for some time.  The basic definition is;  the vintage, is the year the grapes for a wine were harvested, and that the quality of these grapes depends on the weather conditions that were experienced that year in it’s particular place, which in turn decides the quality of the wine.  Wine publications typically write vintage reports to highlight the best vintages to buy, and ones to stay away from. While some folks pay limited attention to these reports, others cling dearly to them.  Although I understand and agree that more information is good, these reports should never be the last say.

If you are going to label one vintage as spectacular, and another less compelling it’s important to put the wines and wineries in their proper place.  Some producers, vineyards, and varietals are better equipped to handle climate change more than others.  The big wineries who purchase fruit from various places can often make adjustments as opposed to the smaller producers who works exclusively with their own grapes.  The big guys have more vineyards to source grapes from, and can “hide” or subsitute some of the greener fruit with grapes from lesser effected places.  Also, additions and subtractions can be made within the winery itself to compensate for poor fruit quality.  So, in this case vintage variation is a moot point because these industrialized wines taste the same every year.

To the other extreme (when perhaps these reports have more weight) are with the smaller producers. These smaller producers can still make great in poor climatic conditions albeit, smaller quantities are often the result.  And, Just because farmer Joe was hit by hail and cold temps during a certain year doesn’t necessarily mean that his cousin Bob 2 Km (in the same appellation) away faired the same fate.

I actually don’t mind if a wine I love tastes different every year.  I celebrate this for better or for worse because “it is what it is.”  The climate that year is what the producers were presented with, and it’s up to them to deal with it accordingly.  Isn’t that what being a farmer is all about?  I love vintage variation and look forward to tastings new vintages every year from my favorite producers.  The element of surprise, elation, and even disappointment is what makes my wine life fun.

Here’s why:

  1. Just because a winery experienced misfortune in a certain vintage, and wasn’t able to salvage any good grapes to make good wine, doesn’t mean that the guy down the street suffered the same fate.  The best producers can make magic out of mush.
  2. Loyalty is important.  I represent wineries, and most of the people I purchase wine from are my friends.  If I decided not to buy wine based on a poor vintage I wouldn’t be a good friend. It would be like telling your best friend that since their hairstyle has changed you don’t want to hang out with them until it get back to the way it was.  And, if one of my producers feels their product is not of the utmost quality, they will not sell their wines to me.
  3. There is little mention of the positive and/or negative consequences to the people making these wines, and the overall outcome thereafter from these writings. A bad vintage report can put a smaller producer (who may have made remarkable wine despite a poor crop) out of business.

There you have it…  Do with it what you will…..

AB

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One thought on “VINTAGE VARIATION IS NOT EVIL… IT SHOULD BE CELEBRATED!

  1. So, I had a YellowTail Shiraz 2010, and it differed greatly from the 2010 Mt. Edelstone from Henschke. Preferred the Yellowtail. ;).
    Seriously, “best producers can make magic out of mush.” So true. Reminds me of how when El Nino ripped through California in ’98, and was panned by most American critics, but some of my fav Cabs were from that year – that is, if you want acidity and such – as opposed to the highly praised ’97s of which many are about to die right now. ’93 and ’94s are rocking as we speak…. Shit. Just went on a tangent. Good start sir.

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