Is Vintage Becoming Meaningless?

The London Sunday Times has a provocative article on vintage wine. Noted wine critic Hugh Johnson has said that due to advanced agricultural techniques, the concept of vintage is becoming obsolete. Johnson says that wine growers have become so adept at handling bad weather and other crop problems that just about every year is a good year. Johnson’s words come in the pages of his 2008 edition of the Pocket Wine Book.

Johnson says that the concern over vintage is driving the high end of the market unnecessarily and that the “non-prestigious” years are better than they have ever been. Is Johnson correct or is he suffering from wine fatigue? In the article he is quoted as saying that he sometimes misses the days when he could write off an unfortunate vintage and that he feels that most wines are now remarkably similar. While Johnson’s theory could probably handily proven in a blind tasting it seems unlikely to me that the fretting over vintages is going anywhere anytime soon. It is far too entrenched in the romance of wine culture to be easily discarded even if the intrinsic value of it has faded.

By Deidre Woollard.