Not in a dismissive ‘I am not drinking THAT year’ way (or at least, we hope not), but it is worth bearing in mind when selecting particular bottles. A good year can make all the difference, especially if you haven’t got much else to go on.
But a quick delve into a wine book will tell you that what is a good vintage for one region (say Bordeaux) may be horrendous for another (say Rioja), and not even the geekiest of us want to have to memorise which year works well for what. We’re far too busy getting tipsy.
Luckily, some of the biggest names in wine have realised this and done all the legwork for us. Here are our top four vintage charts for various occasions:
Clean-cut and Worldwide: Berry Brothers
The Berry Bros have come up trumps with this little beauty of an online vintage chart. Not only does it go back to 1978 (which is before *some* of us were born), it covers the main regions of the Old World as well as the most popular countries world-wide! New World years matter too, but most vintage charts forget this.
The easy-to-read format give a rating out of ten for each year with a note about whether to drink it now or buy it to keep. PLUS, if you click the box you’re interested in, it gives you a more detailed paragraph about the vintage and region in question and links to the wines they stock in that category. What absolute smashers.
Pocket-sized: The Wine Society
The Wine Society’s vintage chart goes all the way back to 1971 (!) and gives everything the Berry Brothers one gives except without the New World information (boo!), however they do also provide a brilliant PDF version you can print out that is handily pocket-sized. I know more than one person that stashes it in their wallet…
The Big Guns: Robert Parker (PDF)
Robert Parker is the Daddy of wine whose /100 scoring system matters to more people than any other critic. While I’d never advocate relying on the opinion of one man, it’s true that every big-name producer would sell their granny if he’d award them a 96 or up, so sometimes it’s nice to know what the God of wine-critics thinks. This PDF is a little terrifying and not particularly skim-able, but the colour-coding helps and there is a little key at the bottom of the page. Wine-geek confession: I keep it in my favourites bar…
The Pretty One: Telegraph
Because sometimes we all like to go ‘ooh.’ Okay, so this isn’t exactly the most clean-cut guide, but OH BOY IS IT GORGEOUS. Berry Bros are behind this one too, so unsurprisingly it is packed full of info. It’s also remarkably easy to use, and very tempting to spend half an hour flicking through each year all the way back 1978. A perfect guide for more idle browsing.
Image taken from adactio‘s photostream