Ever wondered where the experts stand on the best wine practices and controversies? In this series, wine blogger, teacher and author Tyler Colman (a. k. a. Dr. Vino) delivers a final judgement.
Don't you think knowing your favorite producers is better than remembering recent vintages? It used to be essential for wine lovers to memorize the top years in each region, but vintages are less an indicator of quality than they once were because of improvements in vineyard management and winemaking. In the past, off vintages often meant underripe, washed out, virtually undrinkable wines; now, even abysmal weather can be countered by technology and knowledge, and good producers tend to make good wine almost every year. Take 2012 in Champagne: Early hail was followed by rains, which reduced the crop, but still the quality was very good and several growers and blenders say that the quality is high (we will have to wait a few years to find out in the glass). But even though weather isn't the ultimate arbiter of quality anymore, it does still change the wines in any given year. Cool vintages in 2010 and 2011 in California, for instance, resulted in naturally lower-alcohol wines in many cases.