TABLE TALK #67
Something we’ve always been keen on here at Wednesday’s Domaine is making wine as inclusive and as enjoyable as possible. To our minds, the only barrier to enjoying a bottle of wine should be having something to drink it out of, and even then it comes down to personal preference.
In previous editions, we’ve demystified definitions and examined certain processes, all in the belief that a little knowledge can go a long way when it comes to enjoying a drink we all hold so dear. Today, we’re talking about the word “vintage” and what it means when it comes to wine.
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🍝 MAIN COURSE 🍝
When we think of the phrase vintage, it often conjures images of something old, something dog-eared, something that we’re not the first to have used or enjoyed. When it comes to clothes, cars or books, those definitions are apt. When it comes to wine, however, the phrase has two quite distinct meanings, with one more clear-cut than the other…
Let’s start with the more commonly accepted definition of vintage - the noun and the one often preceded by the word or letter “a”. A vintage simply refers to the years in which the grapes used to produce a wine were harvested. You may have seen bottles or wine lists with years (eg. 2008, 2017, etc) attached to them, and also have heard that some vintages were better than others. If that’s the case, this then begs the question as to why this is?
Before we go there, let’s remind ourselves of the factors that go into creating the flavours of any given wine. Broadly speaking, you have the location or terroir of the grapes, you have the grape or “varietal” (eg. Sauvignon Blanc), the weather and then the winemaking techniques used to produce the wine. The first two elements are relatively fixed, with the latter half being where a particular vintage really leaves its mark.
An image that comes to mind with vintage wine
A vintage or a particular year may be very hot and sunny, or conversely, cold and wet. There might have been a devastating hail storm just before harvest or issues with bugs or early frosts, all of which will impact how the grapes develop and thus the canvas on which a winemaker can do their work.
At this stage, it then becomes the role of the winemaker to decide how to craft a wine to produce the best possible outcome. They may decide to push ahead with the wines resulting from that particular year (a vintage) or blend them with wines from other years, seeking to achieve a consistency in taste and style. Doing so would make a wine “non-vintage”, with this technique being very common in larger scale operations or within champagne-making, whereby a particular producer may have a “house” style that they’re known for and their customers have become accustomed to.
So if that’s the noun, what about the adjective? This is where there’s a little less agreement, with some suggesting that anything more than 10 years old is a “vintage” wine and others being unwilling to draw a line in the sand. More important is what happens in the bottle as a wine ages, which is essentially to say that its colour, aromas and flavours evolve as the compounds within bond and evolve. It’s also not to say that all wines can or should be aged, but if you’re keen to know more, our friends over at Eater have produced this fantastic read on the topic.
If this has tickled your fancy and you’re keen to know more about topics like this, let us know and we’ll see where we go next.
🍮 SWEET ENDINGS 🍮
Word has it that holiday bookings spike in January as we look to counter the cold and the dark by looking ahead to sunnier months and warmer climes. Holidays can take all manner of different forms, ranging from weekend breaks to months abroad. Check out this inspiring piece from Melinda Hansen on learning to accept, and to even love, the unpredictability of travel.
Travel can change you in unexpected ways
🍷 WHAT'S NEW
WEDNESDAY'S DOMAINE? 🍷
Yesterday saw us close out our first ever Dry January and what a month it was. From tastings and events to podcast appearances and press mentions, it’s all been slightly mad.
This past month was our biggest to date as we got our wines into a record number of people’s hands and if it’s anything to go by, we can’t wait for what the rest of 2023 has in store.
Thanks for all the love and support,
The Wednesday’s Domaine Team x