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Season of Change

Harvest time rocks. It signifies a time of change. Take for example the changing of the seasons from summer to fall with leaves changing from green to autumnal colors. Better yet, the veggies on our table go from flowering to root, meats are roasted instead of grilled and (wait for it) the grapes on the vine are changed into wine!

The French word vintage means harvest. So the date on that bottle of wine you are holding is actually the year in which the grapes were picked from the vine, not the date the bottle was released. If the wine is to be aged in a barrel, the 2010 vintage wines may not hit the market until 2012 or 2013. While the date of release is not important, the date that the grapes were picked or the “harvest” date certainly is. Here’s why. The structure of a wine (acid, alcohol, sugar and tannin) is directly influenced by the weather that occurs during a single growing year. Warmer years = more ripening = more sugar in grape and, since sugar is converted to alcohol during fermentation, = more alcohol and fuller bodied wines. The same is true in reverse during cooler years. Combine annual weather patterns with acts of Mother Nature such as the earthquake in Chile or bushfires in Australia or heatspikes in Napa, and harvesting grapes that are balanced and healthy can be quiet difficult. While the 2010 grapes are still coming in, lots of chatter is still going on about the 2009 vintage that is maturating in barrel or in bottle right now. The New Zealanders are crazy for their 2009 Sauvignon Blanc after dry conditions, Aussies are working hard thru smoke taint in the Yarra and heatwaves thru most of the country, Bordeaux is raving about the 2009 vintage on both banks and in Sauternes, in Burgundy there is talk of lots of fruity juice and overall happiness for the 2009 vintage, the Champenoise are boasting beautiful bubbles like that of 1988, Spain is dealing with the difficulties of a hot year, Italy’s 2009 is good with spottiness in Tuscany due to too much rain in the spirng followed by hot, hot summer and California 2009 Cab and Zin producers are, in general, smiling with regard to the 2009 growing season.

Alot can change in a year, and the 2010 grapes will soon write their own story….I cannot wait to read, I mean, taste it! Cheers.

Categories: Wine Blog

About Marianne Frantz

A Certified Wine Educator, Marianne holds a Diploma in Wine & Spirits from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) of London, and has also earned the Advanced Sommelier qualification from the Court of Master Sommeliers. After successfully participating in an educational competition sponsored by the Wines of Australia in the spring of 2008, Marianne became an educational Ambassador for Wine Australia USA. She is also a Certified Spanish Wine Educator.