Have you ever seen the words ‘old vines’ on a wine label? If you have ever wondered what makes an old vine wine so unique or what constitutes an ‘old vine’ wine, here is why they are so valued amongst the wine market today.
What are ‘old vine’ wines?
To understand what old vine wines are, it’s important to recognise the lifecycle of vitis vinifera. After first being planted, vitis vinifera or grapevines, usually take around three years to produce fruit. A vine reaches ‘adulthood’ around seven or eight years, and a ‘mature’ vine can range to be between 12-25 years old. Old vines, however, are often over the age of 25 years! Sometimes vines can even reach a shocking 125 years old, known as ancestor vines!
What makes old vines so special?
Whilst older vines don’t inherently produce better wines than their younger competitors, they are capable of producing beautifully complex and balanced flavours that are created from very well-established roots.
As the vines age, their roots grow deeper below the surface, which allows them to produce more consistent flavours each year. In addition to their often unique flavours, older vines also produce a lower quantity of grapes in comparison to younger vineyards – which in turn allows them to produce a higher concentration of flavours and generally makes them rarer to come across.
Whilst Australia’s wine country is relatively young compared to countries like France and Italy (where there is a greater number of old vine wines), Australia also has old vines which date back all the way to the 1840s! These are mainly found in the Barossa Valley region of South Australia, for example, Kalleske Wines have been producing wine for seven generations and still maintain vines that were planted in 1875!
So, next time you see the words ‘old vines’ on a wine label, you are drinking wine produced from vines that have been growing for at least 25 years!