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Vintage variation… a dirty word?


Question from Grace: Why does my favourite wine taste different all of a sudden? Like different bad, not different good! HELP!

In a nut shell: Noooooooooooooooooooooooo! The inevitable has happened and life as you know it will never be the same. The vintage (or year that the wine was produced) has changed and therefore it tastes a little different.

In a clam shell: This is incredibly sucky and unfortunately I know too well. A few years ago my husband and I found an AMAZING Shiraz from the Coonawarra that, according to our taste buds, was perfection and the price was right too. We enjoying it way too regularly for about six months and then one day everything changed. That delicious flavour we had gotten to know and love was bland, boring and meh! We studied the bottle to see what we has missed and there it was bold and heartbreaking – 2011! We had been enjoying the 2010 vintage and when we asked if there were any hidden bottles, that we were willing to trade our first born for, we were informed that they had all sold out and the 2011 had taken its place. Each year we have tried the new vintage and it just doesn’t compare. We don’t drink that wine anymore because it makes us sad.

But as devastating as it is it’s also the most exciting thing about wine! It’s what makes wine so much fun. One big adventure from this vintage to the next.

The way wine changes taste from one year to the next is called vintage variation and it can be almost unnoticeable one year to widely different the next. The taste difference is due to the weather’s influence during the growing season. Therefore, you can guess that regions with erratic weather will have more extreme vintage variations, which happens more often in cooler climates.

So when you find a wine that you love remember that it won’t be around forever. Drink, drink, drink and enjoy! Stock up!!! Actually, don’t stock up because if you cellar it it probably won’t taste the same as you remembered when you crack the bottle a few years later. Just drink, drink, drink NOW and savour every last drop!

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