Whether you are new to wine, or a journeyed collector, a bottle can tell you about the wines they carry. Varietals tell you the regions the wine was grown, and vintage year signifies the harvest from which the grapes were collected. Often grapes are blended, and the varietal will change based on the different areas a wine came from.
Knowing where a wine was grown is as important as when it was grown. Soil conditions and weather play a big part of what makes a wine great. Collector’s value specific vintages from different regions when a region produced exceptional wines in a particular year.
It is also a common for vintners to blend wines from different harvests together to create what is designated as a non-vintage wine. Here is the general breakdown of single vintage vs non-vintage wines:
Single Vintage Wines
Single Vintage wines are bottled using grapes from the same growing year. At harvest the grapes are made into juice and fermented in toasted barrels, or stainless steel. Each barrel is dated, and the vintner then bottles the wine from that year’s harvest into the designated vintage year.
A non-vintage wine is created by blending wines from different harvests to create a blend that has nice depth and complexity. Vintners us the “NV” as the designation for wines that are non-vintage in place of the year of a varietal.
Why Do Vintners Like to Produce Non-Vintage Wines?
Vintners produce non-vintage wines by combining wines made from multiple vintages to create a consistent flavor profile from year to year. Often these non-vintage blends are referred to what can be called a “house style” blends. Vintners hope to achieve a consistent flavor profile from year to year.
Many times, this practice is done with Champagnes and fortified wines like a Port or a Sherry. In fact, our Pietro Family Cellars Sparking Wines in the Brut and Brut Rose are designated as non-vintage.
Using non-vintage wines allows our vintners create a wine style for our wines that is consistent and to reflects the style of the wine, not the vintage. As boutique wine makers we are always working to blend our wines to perfection. In fact, some of our favorite blends are our wines that are made from several different years of wine.
Our Favorite Non-Vintage Wines
Inte+gra+tion I is a multi-vintage OCFV Allocation from our organic vineyard estate is blended with different vintage 2005-2014 from our Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard block. By blending multiple vintages, we are able create a terroir driven, historic Cabernet Sauvignon that expresses the pure character of the land, freed from the influence of a specific vintage. Our vineyard property was established in 1850’s in today’s Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, deemed in 1856 by the California Agriculture Society as the best vineyard land in California.
“The complexly unique terroir of O’Connell Family Vineyard imparts a flavor into the Cabernet Sauvignon that is dramatically site specific.”
-Gabrielle Leonhard OConnell, Vintner and Director of Winemaking
Conclusion on non-vintage wines
Don’t let non-vintage wine scare you. The practice of carefully crafting quality and wines has been pleasing pallets for centuries. Vintners not often blend vintages to capture the essence of the grape varietal and create a consistent flavor profile for a wine. Gabrielle Leonhard O’Connell has blended vintages in our of our most cherished wines in the Gabrielle Collection VERTEX RED CUVÉE BLEND 621 RED WINE, North Coast, a Solera Style inspired Non-Vintage wine. The Vertex symbolizes various elements merging to a single point, as do the varietals Gabrielle blends.
We are also pleased to announce the new release of our Gabrielle Collection VERTEX RED CUVÉE BLEND 622, Cabernet Sauvignon. This non-vintage blend is A VERTICAL IN A GLASS! It is standard practice to save a few barrels of past vintages to blend into current vintages to offer complexity. Barrels from the 2016- 2018 vintages were blended to create this charming non-vintage. Read more here