What does it mean for a year to be “a good year” for wine, and how does it affect the taste? Also how can one know what years are “good years”?

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What does it mean for a year to be “a good year” for wine, and how does it affect the taste? Also how can one know what years are “good years”?

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Climate and weather affect quality and properties of wine. A good year for wine is the one with optimal conditions for grape growth that enhance wine’s quality

A “good year” wine is a fairly arbitrary choice. Each year a wine maker’s wine may be a little different, or big different than the year before, depending on weather, grapes, how they make they wine, lots of stuff. Some winemakers go out of their way to try to have all of their wines always taste the same every year (such as some champagne makers), others will vary each year in slight ways.

A “good year” is just someone commenting that a particular wine (or wine region) produced particularly good wine that year.

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It has to do with the quality of the grapes — things like rain/drought, amount of sun, temperature, etc. can affect yield and quality of grapes, which can affect the quality of the wine made from those grapes. Seasonal conditions will help guide year’s quality, ie. if lower levels of rain (less water mean sweeter grapes) mean better X variety and there’s a year with low levels of rain, then they’ll be able to predict it’s likely a good vintage. Of course, once the first bottles are opened and consumed, they’ll have better idea and will be able to predict how those wines will age.

Top producers will produce great wines consistently, regardless of the vintage. Good years are when the conditions of a region elevate even mediocre producers finished product.

The biggest issue in the US is over generalization, specifically of California. Santa Barbara, Monterey, Napa, and Sonoma have vastly different sub climates. A lot of people only know Napa and Sonoma and follow those top vintages as top for the whole state. Not the case.

Also, vintage variation is more important in Europe than the rest of the New World. Their laws for production are very specific as to what they can do in the vineyards in bad years. Bordeaux and Burgundy, in particular, can be too hot, cold, wet, or dry any season and can make variation in producer quality very evident. Bad years will still have great wines from the top producers, but at a high price. Top vintages means the less expensive wines will producer on par or better than more expensive bottlings.