Courtesy of Januik Winery

T+L’s Vintage Cheat Sheet

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When you’re juggling varietals, regions, and producers, vintages may be one variable too many. The good news: better wine-making techniques have made bad years almost extinct. Follow these tips and order like a pro.

Years to Know: In Bordeaux, 2000, 2003, and 2005 got the headlines, but seeking out 2001, 2002, and (especially) 2004 from top châteaux will get you a great bottle that’s ready to drink at sometimes half the price.

When Age Doesn’t Matter: For all but the most age-worthy white wines and pretty much all rosés, the rule is that the best vintage is the newest one.

Sweet Finish: With dessert wines, it’s the opposite direction. Anything with a little age will have its edges rounded, its angles softened, and a mellow sweetness.

Finding Value: In Italy’s Piedmont and Spain’s Rioja regions, difficult years like 2002 mean that there aren’t always enough superior grapes to make reserve and single-vineyard bottlings, so many wineries include their superior grapes in basic releases, making them even better.

Lesser Knowns: If you’re in doubt, sommeliers are often eager to recommend wines from years that didn’t get the hype. (They’re known as restaurant vintages, after all.) —Bruce Schoenfeld

World's Top Local Wines

T+L’s Vintage Cheat Sheet

When you’re juggling varietals, regions, and producers, vintages may be one variable too many. The good news: better wine-making techniques have made bad years almost extinct. Follow these tips and order like a pro.

Years to Know: In Bordeaux, 2000, 2003, and 2005 got the headlines, but seeking out 2001, 2002, and (especially) 2004 from top châteaux will get you a great bottle that’s ready to drink at sometimes half the price.

When Age Doesn’t Matter: For all but the most age-worthy white wines and pretty much all rosés, the rule is that the best vintage is the newest one.

Sweet Finish: With dessert wines, it’s the opposite direction. Anything with a little age will have its edges rounded, its angles softened, and a mellow sweetness.

Finding Value: In Italy’s Piedmont and Spain’s Rioja regions, difficult years like 2002 mean that there aren’t always enough superior grapes to make reserve and single-vineyard bottlings, so many wineries include their superior grapes in basic releases, making them even better.

Lesser Knowns: If you’re in doubt, sommeliers are often eager to recommend wines from years that didn’t get the hype. (They’re known as restaurant vintages, after all.) —Bruce Schoenfeld

Courtesy of Januik Winery

World's Top Local Wines

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