“It’s just like wine. It gets better with age.”
We have all heard it before. And for winologists, old vine wine has a better reputation than new vine wine. But is it true? Nosy got nosy. And investigated a bit more.
First, the concept of “old”. Actually, there is no legal definition for an old vine wine. Obviously, marketers take advantage of this legal gap. 25 years seem to be the minimum age for a brand to self-proclaim their wines as “made from old vines”. But you can imagine how different must it be from a wine made with grapes from a 100+-year-old vine.
What about the differences between and old and a new vine? There are 3 main distinctions - the roots, the terroir, and the fruits.
The roots: older vines have deeper roots and deeper roots mean they are more adaptable to unexpected weather conditions than younger vines - they get less soaked in especially rainy years and can find extra moist in dry years.
The terroir: a matured vine goes way down through the soil, entering in contact with different layers with different characteristics. Adding to the wine a complexity younger vines can’t keep up. They always produce grapes that turn into more unique and distinct wines, with a local identity depending on the soil’s typology.
The fruits: old vines produce a smaller cluster of grapes, with ticker skins, that give more intense colors and concentrated flavours.
So, the verdict: old vine wines really have distinct aroma and flavours, more complex and robust. And are more consistent from year to year. But beware: not all claimed old vine wines are actually what they say they are. So, only if the plantation date is on the label can you truly know if it is (or isn’t) an old vine wine. Always search before you buy, ie, dig deeper like a true old vine.