Wine Talk

Snooth User: ichito

old wine

Posted by ichito, Nov 9, 2010.

I loved the trivia and the details. There is old wine, as in old bottles, old wine that has been sleeping in the barrel and there are old vines. The first two seem easier to understand, but when is a vine to be considered old, is there any notion in regards to years or is it more like the kind of fruit it produces?, or something else?.


Reply by penguinoid, Nov 9, 2010.

Old vines refers to vine age in years. In some wineries, vines are considered old after they're 25 years old, some insist on them being 50+ years. I don't think there's really a formal definition of when a vine would be considered 'old', though.

Older vines naturally produce lower yields than young vines, which produce more concentrated, intense wines than may be possible from younger wines even if yields are kept low.

Jancis Robinson wrote an interesting article that's worth a look:

Reply by ChipDWood, Nov 9, 2010.

Here's the link to it: and indeed Mr. Penguin- what a great read!  Australia (Yalumba) being in there with the rest amongst the oldest- who'd have thunk it.

I recently had a chat with a friend and we were discussing the very origin of wine, and particularly some of the oldest surviving varietals since the topic of Petit Manseng from Virginia came up.  He made a lot of fascinating points about why wine can trace its history all the way back to the roots of our very civilization: Grapes taste good, and ferment naturally so it was a happy accident that the discover of wine in all likelyhood came from a pleasantly surprised individual who thought he had purchased a sack of old grapes ;).

Reply by ichito, Nov 9, 2010.

I had not read the article, excelent reading. recently there have been some advertising regarding "old vine" malbec from Argentina. diferent vintages. Somebody mentioned the fact that wine is so prominent in the old testament in many diferent ways, one was the fact that a person that has just planted a vineyard would be exempt from going to war. Somebody else said that vino is so prominent in religious ceremonies because is a metaphor for life. Salud.

Reply by GregT, Nov 9, 2010.

ichito - "old vine" in Argentina and the US, and I suppose elsewhere but I don't know, means little.  Same as "reserva" or  "selection".  In some countries those are defined, but not in all countries.   Many people in CA use the term informally to denote vines over 50 years, but that's not any kind of rule.

Because of phylloxera, many places in Europe don't have vines that are older than 100 years, and many aren't even half that old, but in some parts of Spain for example, they haven't yet had pylloxera and they have original vines on their own roots.

In Argentina they sometimes claim that they have no phylloxera because of the way they irrigate in Mendoza and because of the soil, but others think it's only a matter of time, which unfortunately, may be the case.  The problem with those vines is that many are not that old.  Winemaking started in the 1500s in Argentina, but most of the vines are since the 1970s.

One reason for the popularity of wine is the alcohol.  Every society known has figured out some way to make alcohol.  But another reason is the sanitiation.  If you think about it, in the Middle Ages, Europe was always having plagues and disease and most of that was because of poor sanitation.  The Church taught that mortifying the flesh was holy, washing was sinful so people walked around with lice and vermin crawling on them and they got sick, but not everyone and not right away.  However, drinking water did it quickly, milk was contaminated by the time it hit the bucket, and juice spoiled.  But wine was OK.  So people drank low alcohol wines, kind of like rosado, and they at least had something decent to drink.  Same reason to make beers.  In a literal sense, it probably WAS life. 


Reply by penguinoid, Nov 10, 2010.

Yes, it's almost odd that despite being fairly new to winegrowing (c. 19th century), Australia has more than its fair share of old vines. I think they're all in South Australia, which has not had Phylloxera.

As with what GregT said about Argentina, though, there is nothing intrinsic to South Australia that means that Phylloxera could not arrive at some point: hence the very, very strict inter-state and international quarantine laws that are trying to keep it out. I think it's pretty much just sand and very sandy soils that Phylloxera can't cope with: anything else, it seems to be fine with.

I tend to forget that Yalumba owns some old vines too -- I forget which wines they go into. Henschke's Hill of Grace vineyard has some pretty old vines too, but the wine costs only slightly less than Penfold's Grange :-(

What parts of Spain haven't got Phylloxera yet?

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Nov 10, 2010.

The majority of Australia has remained Phylloxera free, other some parts of Victoria, I think its is in the Macedon Ranges area.

The biological controls are pretty tight and we hope it does stop the spread of the disease

Australia planted vines in many areas soon after colonisation, particularly once free settlers began to come to Australia.

I think parts of the Hunter ere planted in early 1800's and Barossa from 1850's [I am sure Google has the correct date]

Yalumba and Henschke are good exeamples of wine businesses that have been in the one family for many generations, in Yalumba's case I think Rob Hill-Smith is 5th [yes 5th] generation

From the Yalumba website

"A fifth generation descendant of Samuel Smith who founded Yalumba in 1849, Robert did not need to find an industry in which to build a career. Following his forebears Samuel, Sidney and Walter “Tiger” Smith, then his father Wyndham, Robert joined Yalumba in 1970 working in the vintage cellar laboratory and the vineyards. He travelled extensively through the vineyard regions of Europe and America doing harvest work at Chateau Rahoul and Domaine Dujac before returning in 1979."

Similar for Steve Henschke

From the Henscke website

The Henschke family is one of the longest-established wine names in the Barossa. Johann Christian Henschke purchased land for a farm at Keyneton in 1861, after fleeing religious persecution in Kutschlau, Silesia (Germany). He planted a small vineyard and an orchard, and after initially making wine for family consumption produced his first commercial vintage in 1868, believed to be principally riesling and shiraz. His son, Paul Gotthard, continued farming and winemaking and planted more vines to increase wine production. Upon his father's death in 1914, third-generation Paul Alfred took over the property and as demand for fortified wines grew, winemaking assumed greater significance.

Each generation built upon the reputation for quality, but it was fourth-generation Cyril Alfred Henschke who in 1958 created the wine that has most captured the red wine world's imagination - Hill of Grace. His first vintage of this shiraz was produced in 1958.

Today, fifth-generation Stephen Henschke and his wife Prue uphold the family name and reputation, as winemaker and viticulturist respectively

Family's tend to have a different planning horizan to corporates!!!

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