Joel Vincent

Technology. Wine. Family. (maybe not in that order)

When a Vintage is not a Year…

So, there is discussion about changing the vintage rules.  Right now in order to claim a vintage a wine must be comprised 95% of grapes from that year.  There is lobbying going on to change that to 85% for non-AVA appellations

Problem?  Well, its a “problem” for premium brands because almost no one in the growing “mass” market for wine understands what AVA is and therefore if you change one you may as well change the other.  And that means even though Napa Valley (AVA region) still has to stick with the more stringent 95%, a Napa County wine can use only 85%.  Opinions vary so troubles are brewing…

The 85% rule would most likely help mass wines, not premium brands, whose consumers would hardly care about a 10% difference, giving them more flexibility and stability in “down” years (by using more from other years).  Since that’s where the money is (mass wines – look at what happened to publicly traded Mondavi) that is probably what will ultimately happen.  Bad for wines built on a “superior quality” brand, good for mass wines where the money (read “power”) actually lies…

Just remember, either way you still get to Enjoy the Wine Life!

Wine Notes: Group says looser rules will make better wine

Link: | The Modesto Bee.

When people get to be a certain age, many tend to start fudging about how old they are.

The California wine industry may be reaching that age.

The Wine Institute, the lobbying group for California wineries, will be
petitioning federal regulators in the next few months to change the
rules on vintage dating of wine.

The rules now say that a wine with a vintage date on the label must contain at least 95 percent wine from that harvest year.

The Wine Institute would like to change that to 85 percent in the case
of wines with a geographic appellation, like California or Stanislaus

Wines with an American Viticultural Area appellation, like Napa Valley
or San Bernabe, would still have to meet the 95 percent criteria.

The change would allow winemakers more leeway to make better wines,
according to proponents, and help U.S. wines compete in global markets,
where many competitors have looser regulations.

A winemaker, for instance, could add a bit more older wine to a new red
vintage, to soften the tannins and make it more drinkable right away.

Or some newer white wine could be blended into an older batch to freshen it up.

The proposal is controversial, however. Napa Valley Vintners, for
instance, doesn’t like it because the group feels it may dilute its
reputation and cause some confusion among consumers.

A Napa County appellation, for instance, could use the 85 percent
standard, while a Napa Valley appellation would have to meet the 95
percent standard.

Growers also are leery of the proposed change. Karen Ross, president of
the California Association of Winegrape Growers, said her members
oppose the change for a number of reasons.

“It could have an impact on the value of grapes sold in any one year,”
Ross said. Wineries may blend in a surplus from the previous year,
buying as much as 10 percent fewer grapes from the current year, she

That in turn could force growers to make bulk wine with the grapes they
couldn’t sell, leaving them at risk of lower prices in the bulk market….

Read more…


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