Hello Prince Albert!
Does the vintage of a wine (the year it was produced) make a difference on the quality and style of a wine? The answer depends on the type of wine we are looking at. For example, large producers (those who release tens of thousands of bottles a year) focus on maintaining a specific style and will aim to create the same wine year after year with consistency in mind. Small, boutique wineries allow the particular growing conditions of each year to reflect in the style of the wine and for this reason their wines may taste different year to year. In the second case, the vintage becomes more important.
Those who are new to drinking wine will often believe that the older the wine is, the better the quality of that wine. This is not necessarily true for a couple of reasons: first, many of the wines found on our shelves are not designed to be aged and are in fact made to be drank within a year or two. They gain no extra complexity or quality with aging. And two, the quality of the wine is highly dependent on the growing conditions of the specific year.
That older bottle may have come from a year with poor conditions such as hailstorms or severe drought and the subsequent wine produced may have suffered for it. If you want to make an informed purchase, look up the year and region of the wine and look at the growing conditions for that year and area.
It is also possible to find wines that have no vintage at all. These are often blends or combinations of different wines mixed from multiple years.
When tasting wines without a vintage, you might find that they have a more generic flavour (this is not always the case) so people will usually choose these wines for simple meals or everyday drinking.
To finally answer the question, vintage matters when looking at higher-quality or boutique (small production) wines. The vintage matters less when drinking every-day, affordable wines. In the end what really matters is whether you like the taste or not!
Here are my wine picks of the week!
Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Nouveau Primeur 2019: (Burgundy, France). Dry red, medium purple colour. This young wine presents an intensely fruity nose of fresh red cherries, raspberries, strawberries, bananas and plump red fruits. On the palate, young bush berries and red fruits with an element of soft, mild cheese and bright flavours of honeydew melon and sweet red licorice. Low tannins, medium body, medium-minus acidity. A bit thin but opens up with some decanting or time. Pair with roast chicken or ham. $23, 13% ABV
Gerard Bertrand Corbieres 2014: (Corbieres, France). Dry red, deep ruby colour. A jammy bouquet of black and red currants, juicy blackberries and hints of leather and black licorice greets the nose. Full bodied on the palate featuring raspberry, blueberry and cherry jam, licorice, smoked leather and blackberries. Velvety smooth texture with rich fruit flavours, medium acidity and a medium-length finish. Pair with wild game and roasts. $22, 14% ABV
Solpiantez Millesimato Spumante Brut 2016: (Italy). Dry sparkling white, medium lemon colour. Simple and fruity to the nose with peaches, lemons, pears and hints of limestone mineral. Medium body on the palate with big, heavy bubbles and high carbonation. Very frothy and active. Medium-minus acidity leaves this one feeling a bit flabby on the palate and slightly underwhelming but the addition of a creamy cheese like Boursin helps round it out. Pair with light appetizers and creamy cheeses (goat cheese, brie or Boursin). $20, 11.5% ABV
Cheers and thanks for reading!