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by Fred McMillin
for February 2003

Wine

 

Do Old Vines
REALLY Make Better Wines?

 

Prologue

As vines age, they lose their vigor and tend to make smaller berries, with a greater concentration of flavor...the resulting wine can be astoundingly good.

               Jeff Cox
               San Francisco Chronicle

 

The Rest of the Story

OK. It sounds convincing but in a blind tasting can we ordinary mortals tell any difference? To find out, we paired 11 older-vine wines with their younger-vine counterparts...e.g., we tasted two Pinot Noirs, one from a new vineyard and one from an old vineyard.

Here is the winner of each match. The wine that won the highest rating is listed last. That is, the further you read, the better the bottle.

 

The Answer...From a Blind Tasting

Rank   Vine Age Winery, Etc.
11th - OLD Syrah, Meridian, Paso Robles, 1998, $15
10th - OLD Palaterra Rhone Blend, Spencer & Roloson, California, 1999, $16
9th - OLD Chardonnay, Cinnabar, Santa Cruz Mountains, 1999, $25
8th - OLD Pinot Gris, Trimbach, Alsace, 1997, $28
7th - OLD Chardonnay, Chateau St. Jean, Alexander Valley, Belle Terra Vineyard, 2000, $24
6th - OLD Syrah, McDowell, McDowell Valley, 1998, $24
5th - YOUNG Syrah, J.J. McHale, Clear Lake, 1999, $29
4th - OLD Old-Vine Zinfandel, Lake Sonoma Cellars, Dry Creek Valley, 1999, $20
3rd - OLD Syrah, Meador Maverick, Monterey County, 1998, $50
2nd - YOUNG Pinot Noir, Sanford, Santa Barbara County, La Rinconada Vineyard, 1999, $50
1st - OLD Zinfandel, Folie Deux, Amador County, Harvey Vineyard, 1998, $28
 

What Did We Learn?

The old-vine wines won nine of eleven matches.

CASE CLOSED!!

 
 
About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.

 


 

 
 

This page created February 2003

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