What Makes a Great Vintage?

Our estate 2016 harvest is in, and I do not hesitate in calling it a “Great Vintage”.  While we hear this often, (“the great 1962 Bordeaux vintage”, or the “greatest vintage of the century”), what do I mean and what do winemakers mean when they use this label?

Full bin of Siegerrebe grapes at harvest

Field Bin of Siegerrebe

While I can’t really speak for others, for a winemaker who cut his teeth in the wine world while working on a vineyard in France, I am influenced by food friendly wines; wines that have balance in acid, alcohol and flavor, that are not only great tasting on their own, but also enhance foods that they are consumed with.  Wines that, due to a balance in these factors, will last a good long while in the bottle, and are thus able to be enjoyed time and again over several years.

To cut straight to it then:  A great Lopez Island Vineyard vintage involves these factors: an early and warm growing season, followed by stable, dry and cool autumn weather, which brought out in our estate grapes incredible strength of flavor.  Added to this was ample (without being too high) sugar in the fruit, with sufficient acid to give the future wines a brilliant crispness in the mouth, while helping the wine to be long-lived and aromatic for its entire life in the bottle.

Beautiful color of fresh Siegerrebe juice after pressing

Siegerrebe juice fresh from the press

While you have to wait until Spring of 2017 to try our estate Madeleine Angevine and Siegerrebe, I am pleased to report that the wonderful 2015 vintage wines are on the shelf right now!  This is the season to enjoy these wines as pairing for seafood, as aperitif wines prior to holiday meals.

–          Brent Charnley, Winemaker