Vintage – what is this exactly?

What is this term Vintage ?

The Cambridge dictionary gives us the following definition of “vintage” when it’s used as an adjective;

– a thing of high quality and lasting value, or showing the best and most typical characteristics of a particular type of thing, especially from the past.

and when used to describe wine;

– the wine made in a particular year or a particular year in which wine has been made.

In the winemaking world the second definition is pretty close. The vintage is the year in which we harvest the grapes that go into a specific wine. An example is our 2015 Nebbiolo  . We harvested theses grapes on the 27th March 2015. The first definition is also correct in that it also describes the best and most typical characteristics likely to be displayed in a wine. It personifies the weather conditions, the soil and winemaking processes that were used that year. All together they combine to become the vintage.

In our world we also use this term vintage to cover a season in our viticultural calendar. It is a time of year that winemakers across the globe refer to – we are in the middle of vintage right now. Meaning we are harvesting grapes and starting on the winemaking process. We tend to consider vintage to be over once the last grapes are harvested. The winemaking process still continues through until the wine is in bottle.

The 2018 Vintage for Vineyard 28 commenced on 7th February this year, with the harvest of our Arneis grapes, and since then the Muscat and Dolcetto have also been picked.

Most harvest days we start around 6am, and all our grapes are hand picked into fruit bins. These are collected and transported into the winery, where they are then destemmed and crushed, with the white grapes  being pumped into the press or if it’s a red grape transferred into an open fermenter and left on skins commence fermentation. As all these processes get underway we start to build up a picture of what the resultant wine will be like.

Cabernet Sauvignon and Nebbiolo are still on the vine ripening away. It is a combination of taste, seed ripeness, sugar levels and acid levels that determine when we will pick the grape. At this time of year Mark can be seen wandering the vineyard early in the morning sampling off the vine, collecting samples of grapes, crushing them, tasting  and testing.

We look forward to sharing the 2018 Vintage journey with you and bringing you some awesome wines in the future.