January 23, 2011 0

Vintage wine and Vintage weather

By in Questions, The Butler Wine-Show

A follow up to my informative (though clearly not informative enough) intro to “what is a vintage.” Bastards.

I told you that a good vintage relies on a good harvest, and that relies on the right weather.

So winter, a vine is reduced to beef jerky, but come the spring we want buds and life and NO FROST. The more buds that survive, the more grapes you have.

In the summer, you’re not necessarily looking for a hot summer: too much heat will turn the fruit to raisins as they start to dry out.

So summer: no frost again please, but good sun and the right amount of water – not too much.

When it comes to the autumn, time to harvest the wine, you want it to be dry. If the grapes are wet then when you press them all that rain water comes into the press and dilutes the fruit.

That’s basically it: smart winemakers map the weather patterns year on year so we can predict for example that a 2007 Rhone is going to be great as conditions were similar to 2001, which was another belting year. And 1990 before that, and 1978 before that…

Good vintages last. Poor vintages need not be horrible, they should still make good every-day drinking.

Vintage is important, especially where the weather is marginal and prone to change, like in France or here even.

If you want an easy vintage chart in your pocket (it is worth it), I recommend the Berry Bros free app: its got a very simple feature that is easy to peak at.

Unlike the cameraman’s holiday snaps which are included here.

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