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"Old Vine" Wines


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As a vine ages, its production per vine goes up, maximizes and then declines over time. After a certain point, they are more disease and drought/rain resistant. These factors make for more intensity and richer flavors in the resulting grapes. Old vines are capable of producing a greater intensity in a wine at a lower alcohol level, other things being equal. They also develop grapes with greater depth of flavor and with a little less fruity flavors. These things can be good or bad depending on the style the winemaker is looking for.

That being said, a young vine, well trained, of a properly selcted clone on site specific rootstock is superior to an old vine poorly trained from a prolific badly matched clone & rootstock combination. A vine planted properly these days is expected to last 25 to 40 years for commercial production. I would call anything over 40 years old vines and anything over 80 years, ancient vines.

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In discussing potential Christmas gifts with my brother-in-law, he mentioned that he preferred "old vine" wines. Is there any qualitative difference between the "old vine" and "new? vine" wines?

Thanks,

Rick

In general, wines made from old vines (usually 40 years or older ) produce less fruit but more intense flavor. It is a nebulous term, however, like "Vintner's Reserve", it doesn't really have a legal definition in the US or Europe. In Europe these days, I believe anything over 8 years old can be labeled "Vielles Vignes". You have to know the grower and his vineyard to really know. The two zinfandel producers in California who get a lot of mileage out of the term are Turley Cellars and Renwood. The Renwood "Grand Pere Vineyard" is the easier to get a hold of.

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And the award for total irrelevance to the actual question goes to MY post, which is:

The oldest vine in the world is a supposedly 400-year old monster located in Maribor, Slovenia, which has been producing a red... something... since the 16th Century.

EDIT- Ahem. The vine is actually OVER 400 year old, thus placing squarely in the 16th Century. :P

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And the award for total irrelevance to the actual question goes to MY post, which is:

The oldest vine in the world is a supposedly 400-year old monster located in Maribor, Slovenia, which has been producing a red... something... since the 16th Century.

Not to be a nit picker or anything, but 400 years old would put it in the 17th century. :P

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Not to be a nit picker or anything, but 400 years old would put it in the 17th century. :P

Yes, but 410 years old would put it in the 16th. It is also unfortunate that due to the price of land, some of the wonderful, 100 year old Zinfandel vines in the southern part of CA have been uprooted for housing developments.

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It is also unfortunate that due to the price of land, some of the wonderful, 100 year old Zinfandel vines in the southern part of CA have been uprooted for housing developments.

Clos Pegase uprooted the old vines petite sirah vines in Calistoga that were used to make wonderful wines at Stags' Leap back in the Carl Doumani to plan more Napa Cab! I have never bought or even sipped a drop from them since. The vines were in perfect health and had good yields.

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I resent the idea that anything over 40 years of age is considered "ancient", thank you very much ;-)

There's a saying in our business that the term "vieilles vignes", is French for "raize ze price" :P

In theory, a vineyard has certain sections replanted every so many years to create an average age of vines. Some wine might be made from only the oldest parcels, some from the youngest. Depending upon which country the wine is from, it might determine what the wine is legally allowed to be called. For example, some "Bourgogne Blanc" from a grower who has vineyard parcels in Chassagne-Montrachet, is probably young-vine Chassagne, i.e. wine from grapes grown on vines too young to legally be labeled Chassagne-Montrachet, because to carry the C-M on the label, the vines must be of at least a certain age.

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