Does vintage matter?

Does vintage matter? Image

As the latest vintages start to arrive on our shelves, we thought we would share a few pointers to make sure you are buying and drinking your wines at their best...

Is there a rule for what to drink when?

It's all to do with the style of wine, the colour and origin of your wine. I will try give you some general principals to follow. It's not that these wines will suddenly turn bad overnight, it's just a little advice to take notice of the wines you are buying and their vintage.


White and Rosé wines

Fresh, crisp, white wines such as New World Sauvignon Blanc or Spanish Albariño; these should be enjoyed by the end of the year following the vintage. 2016 whites will be starting to depreciate in flavour and fruit now so keep an eye out for fresh 2017's - rosé wines follow the same pattern.

Whites with more flavour and a richer mouthfeel such as Chardonnay, Gavi and Alsace wines, will not only last longer, but may increase in flavour with maturity over the next 2 years.

White wines with oak ageing is a totally different situation. We can estimate that some wines with some oak influence will improve up to 5 years whilst some Burgundian styles will last even longer, but will depend on individual vineyards and their advice on when to drink their wines and of course your own preferences – zippy and fresh or rich and rounded.


Red Wines

Red wines have essentially similar principals. There are red wines made in areas where the price denotes that time and effort spent on the final product has been minimal. This does not mean that corners have been cut, or the wine will not be of a quality that is expected of this wine. These are generally fruit based wines, young wines, and are ‘ready for drinking' from the off but they will last perfectly for 2 years from the date of vintage with virtually no loss of flavour.

Light un-oaked red wines from single domains or vineyards (Beaujolais, Pinot Noir from New Zealand, Chile or France, Spanish Tempranillo) are light and fruity. These will last up to 3 years from vintage date, unless stated ‘Fût de Chêne' on the bottle meaning oak aged. These will last longer. The younger the wines the fruitier they will be – it's your personal preference.

Medium bodied reds with oak, ranging from Burgundy to Rioja Crianzas and many Italian wines, can vary, ageing anything from 5 years to 20/25 years. As with white wines these are recommendations but early consumption equals more fruit notes.

Heavier reds-  Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz/Syrah - follow the same procedure as lighter reds. Without oak they will last between 3 – 5 years comfortably and with oak they will mature nicely up to 8 years. Quality Bordeaux is produced with age maturation in mind so individual vintage is a very important factor.

This is just a guide to help you buy and utilize the rotation of your own wines with confidence. If you are unsure, please get in touch. 

Last Updated: 10/05/2018
Author: Sarah Hattersley
Sarah Hattersley

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