Good Wine from Old Vines

Beer and Wine, Drinks, How-To, Wine 101
on November 1, 2007
Mark Boughton Photogrpahy / styling by Teresa Blackburn

Q. My favorite wine says “old vines” on the label. Do old vines always make better wine?

A. While grapes from old vines are not a guarantee of great wine, they can make a difference. As grapevines age, they tend to become less energetic. This means that while they produce far less fruit, the grapes become more intense and flavorful. For this reason, top estates routinely rely on vines that may be anywhere from 20 to 100 years old. And many wineries refuse to use grapes from young vines at all—these grapes are simply no match for the powerful, concentrated berries produced by the grizzled elder statesmen of the vineyard.

—Charles Smothermon, a food and wine writer in Laurin, Mont.