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Wine: What’s in a vintage?

Beware the hyped vintages, seek out neighbouring vintages and learn what you need to know about how weather affects the grapes and the wines

By Barry Smith   May 2014

Do vintages still matter, or is it reasonable to suppose that modern techniques of wine-making, in the field and in the cellar, will smooth out the difficulties of each season? Large-scale industrial wineries try to achieve a constant flavour for each bottle, often to please supermarkets who aim to provide a consistent product. But handmade wines of quality continue to show differences from year to year.

Vintages lock in the characteristics of weather in a given season. The carefully-documented records of harvests going back to the medieval period in Burgundy provide a wonderful resource for those studying climate change. The…

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