Friday, August 14, 2009

Old Vines Tasting

Although many wines are labeled "old vines" (French: vieilles vignes), surprisingly there's no definition of "old vines". In some old wine growing regions 30-40 years is considered old, while in other regions 20 years may be considered old. Regardless of the definition of "old vines", over time vines begin to produce smaller grapes that in turn bear more concentrated flavors. Whatever meaning of "old vines" that a producer uses "old vines" is typically used in contrast to regular bottlings of the same wine from younger vines. Wines made from old vines usually have more concentrated flavors than regular bottlings, but because there are so many variables that apply to wine making the quality of old vine bottlings are not necessarily higher than regular bottlings.

The tasting featured 12 wines: 3 were white and the rest were red. Although the whites included Morey Montrachet and an Ostertag Sylvaner, I thought they were disjointed or just not good. Of the reds I thought only the following six ranged from very good to excellent and are therefore worth trying. All wines lived up to their labeling and showed good concentration of flavor. All are available locally at The Wine Warehouse, and all are marked down between 30%-50%.

1. Marietta Old Vine Red Blend Lot #49 ($15) Light-medium body, black cherry, balanced. 85-6/100
2. 2007 Cline Ancient Vine Zinfandel ($15) Medium bodied, blackberry & cassis notes, balanced, long dry finish. 87/100.
3. 2003 Bonny Doon Old Telegram ($20) Mouvedre (Spainish: Monastrell) Medium-big bodied, excellent integration of black fruit & tannins. 90-1/100
4. 2007 Atteca Old Vine Garnacha ($15) Youthful, ripe, tart black cherry & prune. (I'm surprised that this wine is still in stock--I bought some months ago!) 87-8/100 Very good value.
5. 2004 Cenit Old Vine Tempranillo ($27) Medium bodied w/ gripping tannins, dark black fruit, smoke, longest finish of the tasting; balanced; biggest wine of the night. 92-3/100. This wine is why you should go to tastings! For me this was the best wine of the night.
6. 2005 Abad dom Bueno Carracedo ($40) Earth, caramel & saline, red/black fruit, big, balanced; polished. 92/100

Share your experiences with old vine wines--comments are welcome!

1 comment:

  1. The Atteca Garnacha seems to be popular in Tallahassee or the distibutor is a good salesman. I have found this wine at Market Square Liquors and Cluster&Hops. I haven't tried mine yet thinking that it was too young.