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What makes a great vintage wine?

One of our best sellers is the wine decanter. It's no surprise, you wouldn't serve a 2007 bottle of Vieux Château Certan for a dinner party any other way. But what makes a great vintage? The word Vintage originates from the old French vendage (influenced by vintener vintner), which was taken from the Latin vindēmia, from vīnum wine, grape and dēmere to take away (from dē- away plus emere to take). 

Vintage has been widely adopted to mean something of great taste. Something that lasts. Wines classified as vintage must contain more than 85% of a particular years grape harvest under US and European law. Since climate is a major factor in viticulture, the weather has a large influence on the process of producing wine. A bad year might mean there was too much rain, it was too hot or their was a bad frost. So a good vintage will mean the weather was favourable and balanced. So what makes a 'great' vintage? It's simply that the weather has been more than favourable and the health of the vine has had more than an ideal environment to produce its fruits. There are a number of organisations which are using weather prediction models to predict vintage years of the future. 

For a young wine of less than 8 years, it's a good idea to decant and let the wine oxygenate to enhance the flavours and soften the taste. For an old vintage you want to decant to remove the sediment from the bottle and serve immediately. The reason for this is the ageing process. Wine is a living product constituted from mostly water, alcohol acidity and phenolic compounds. The phenolic compounds or organic material is what gives the body colour and aroma profile. As a bottle of wine ages the tannin, natural pigments and flavour compounds interact. Water will evaporate and oxygen will enter the bottle through the cork. This process helps to bind the organic elements and forms the ageing process. Larger organic material will fall as sediment to the bottom of the bottle. 

This process means younger wines need to breath after being decanted for roughly 20 minutes. It also, means that older wines have already aged and have had the time to oxygenate. The sediment simply needs to be removed. This is the beauty of ageing the wine to reach its full potential. The decanter plays an important role and changes depending on the age. If you want to experience a great vintage, simply use a wine chart to gage a great vintage, based on the weather that year and use a decanter accordingly. Now it's time to amaze your dinner guests with a great vintage.