Wine of the Century….You Decide!

leanne / July 1st, 2012

What distinguishes one vintage from another? And for that matter, who decides whether one year is great, middling or indifferent; Winemakers, winewriters or should you, as the consumer, be trusting your own instincts?

Recently I was contacted by N.M. via twitter regarding the condition of our 1995 Yarra Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. She was opening a bottle for a wine tasting that night and wanted some information on it.

Via my limited 140 characters, I wrote back to her… ‘@N–  terrific vintage, perhaps best Cab we made in 90’s. Classic Yarra season, cool, dry, Indian Summer. From 2 Estate vineyard blocks’

I received another tweet a day later to say…‘thanks Leanne! Was a great drop. Wine of night in line up of oz cab. Strange, wine companiolassus 95 difficult, wet vintage’

It is so easy to strike a line through a particular vintage from a particular year because of a generalisation. 1995 happened to be a terrific year for Cabernet Sauvignon. Well, at least for De Bortoli, here at Dixons Creek, here in the Yarra Valley. Whether it was for anyone else, who knows, but we rate it as one of our best Cabernet vintages in the 1990’s. We are still lucky enough to have a few magnums of this wine and it is holding up incredibly well.

Fast forward 16 years to the 2011 vintage. Yes, it was wet, and could also be described  as being difficult, but we have made some gorgeous Yarra Valley Chardonnay. Speaking to other winemakers in the region, their thoughts echo ours. Sure, it was a year where winemakers had to be diligent throughout the growing season but those who did, were amply rewarded and therefore, hopefully you will be too.

It brings to mind a story told by Kermit Lynch in his book ‘INSPIRING THIRST – VINTAGE SELECTIONS FROM THE KERMIT LYNCH WINE BROCHURE’. (2004) Here are some Excerpts from the chapter Combat Vintage Chart Mentality, Part III.

He says :…..“My experience, seventeen years in the wine trade, has taught me never to reject a vintage out of hand, and never to go overboard with enthusiasm. I cellar my favourite wines in all vintages. That is what I consider fun”…..

……“Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant may even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine”.

To which he also included the KERMIT LYNCH VINTAGE CHART. See below







cut it out and save.

Kermit allowed us to reprint the full chapter in one of our newsletters some years ago and we hope his kindness still prevails. If you are interested in it in it’s entirety, just send me a note and I’ll forward it to you.


So next time you are tempted to pass over a wine because the vintage was not rated highly, stop for a moment and consider whether you may be passing up the wine of the century.



Follow me on Twitter@DeBortoliWines and visit us at www.debortoli.com.au

3 thoughts on “Wine of the Century….You Decide!

  1. Pingback: Using a Vintage Chart to Pick Wines Sucks … Here’s a Better Way! « Filthy Good Vino

  2. Pingback: Using a Vintage Chart to Pick Wines Sucks … Here’s a Better Way! | Filthy Good Vino

  3. Pingback: It’s a Circus! 2013 Vintage in the Yarra Valley - De Bortoli Wines Blog

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