What’s the first known vintage? Do we Indians care?

brutuscoin.jpgHere in India, we’re still wrapping our heads around the different vintages. There’s more than enough to learn about wine with the grapes, the regions, the tasting formats and the smells that the vintages get ignored. The fact of the matter is that a wine can differ dramatically year to year or with each vintage and as it ages. Shiv Singh comments on vintages and what they mean.

That’s the case with the Indian wines too though we tend to ignore that. For example, can you tell me whether the Grover Vineyards La Reserve ’05 was better than the Grover Vineyards La Reserve ’03? There was a difference but because we don’t do as many vertical tastings as other wine lovers, you’re probably not sure about the difference. And as a result, you’re probably not going to notice when a much preserved 2003 is produced at the formal dinner you’re attending.
Most Indian wines are made and sold to be drunk young. But that doesn’t mean that every vintage is of the same quality as the previous one. The more we know about the specific vintage, the better informed we are about the wine and its value. Today, we’re probably not paying attention to the vintages of the wines we drink and how they vary from year to year. Will Spurrier’s ratings of Indian white wines be the same this year as last year?
We need to and I encourage you to always pay attention to the year when choosing and drinking a wine. It does make a difference. Some others have been thinking about this for a long time though. Roman Historian Pliny the Elder rated 121 B.C. as a vintage “of the highest excellence.” That was the first time ever that a vintage was reviewed! Can you believe that 121 B.C?


  1. I agree with Shiv that most Indians know little about wine vintages and changing quality. For this, I think that responsibility must be equally apportioned to the producer, the government, and God.
    Most wine producers in India do not want to burden an emerging consuming public with the complexities of variable wine quality due to changing weather.
    State excise rules do not allow for the cost of keeping wine from previous vintages, and insist on a strait-jacket pricing policy.
    An God is kind to grape growers in India: most vineyards here get perfect weather during October – Jan: bright sunshine, cool nights, little or no rain – and never any fog or sleet or (God forbid) snow!

  2. You’re right its the producer, the government and maybe the Gods that are responsible. And it is easy for us to forget how lucky we are with the consistent good weather. It makes life a lot easier and with good reason.
    It is worth noting though that we drink more foreign wines, vintages should and do matter to Indians especially as we compare values. I think with those we have to do all we can to educate each other about the vintages.

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