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Wine Wisdoms #53: Using a Vintage Chart

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010 at 12:53:19 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies


Our panel of editors at Wine Enthusiast Magazine don’t just rate wines, they rate entire vintages as well.

Vintages are rated by the weather a region experienced during that harvest year. For example, if Napa Valley had a terrible frost in 1989 that harmed the vines, it could negatively impact the wine in that year and therefore, the vintage rating. Wine can vary greatly between vintages so a vintage chart is a handy tool for predicting a wine’s quality and value.

To use the vintage chart:

1) Locate the name of the country your wine is from in the left column.

2) Once you’ve found its country of origin on the chart, scroll down to the region it’s from which is usually identified by the appellation on the bottle.

3) Find the wine’s vintage across the top of the chart and the corresponding square of Region/Vintage. You will see a rating in that box. The box will also be color-coded to correspond to its maturity in the year the vintage chart was produced.

Here is a key to the ratings:
98-100 Superlative
94-97 Classic
90-93 Excellent
87-89  Very Good
83-86 Good
80-82 Acceptable

The “Maturity” legend explains the colors.

You can access our 2010 vintage chart (which actually assesses 2009) here. Our iPhone application includes a handy vintage chart as well so you can lookup vintages on the go.  Find it here. Cheers!

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