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Italian term for the vintage; see there.

Besides soil type, grape varieties and the winemaker 's art, the climate has a decisive influence on wine quality. Wines reflect, sometimes to a considerable extent, the weather-related characteristics of a year, which are often very specific. In this context, one speaks of vintage-related typicality; for example, wines can have a " vintage-typical botrytis note" or a "roasted note" due to periods of heat. In warm growing regions, the fluctuations are usually not as strong and the deviations are therefore smaller. In contrast, in cooler growing regions, the weather-related differences can be considerable; this applies, for example, to the Italian regions of Piedmont and Tuscany, in Austria the wine-growing region of Wachau and the wine-growing regions in the province of Styria, the German wine-growing region of Mosel, as well as the French regions of Burgundy, Bordeaux, Alsace and Loire.

Kriterien für einen Wein: Topographie, Bodentyp, Klima, Rebsorte, Vinifikation und Jahrgang

Influences on quality

From Bordeaux comes the statement that the châteaux do not produce good wine, but only good vintages or even (because wines can develop differently depending on the container) only good bottles. Climatic and weather conditions are not infrequently similar for very large areas and even countries within a year (although of course climate does not adhere to national borders), but quality can vary greatly from area to area, from place to place and even from site to site within the year. Therefore, one can only speak in very general terms of a certain vintage quality and must understand this rather as a relatively rough guide and not as a blanket for all producers.

In a "low vintage", the wines usually have fewer ingredients or aromatic substances contained in homogeneous quantities, as well as alcohol content (see total extract). As a rule, such wines mature more quickly and reach their peak or drinking maturity earlier. The type of ageing also has a great influence. Wines aged in barrels or barriques generally have a longer shelf life than those aged in stainless steel tanks. Special vintages were already mentioned in antiquity; one of the oldest wines is the famous Falern "Opimianer" from 121 BC. However, mostly only the very bad years (due to weather, wars, pests or other catastrophes) and the particularly good years were documented. In addition, it used to be customary to simply add the new vintage to a barrel.

Vintage chronicle

The best wines of very special years are poetically called century wines. One of the most famous vintages from a historical point of view and also mentioned in many chronicles by Johann W. Goethe (1749-1832) is the legendary 1811 (see also under Oldest Wines). The following chronicle is partly taken from the documentation "Vintage Chronicle, Wine in the Last 2000 Years" by Peter H. Jordan. This is also a short historical outline of viticulture. The remarks often refer to specific wine-growing regions and are not in principle valid for entire countries and all wines. Unless otherwise stated, they refer mainly to Germany and Austria:

1st to 10th century

  • 121 BC - first documented vintage in wine history with the famous Falern wine "Opimianer".
  • 306, 312, 411, 545, 585, 604 - bad harvests
  • 765 - blessed wine year, thanksgiving service of King Pippin III (714-768) - father of Charlemagne
  • 900 to 1350 - this long period is called the Medieval Warm Period, followed from 1450 to 1850 by a very long cold period, the so-called Little Ice Age
  • 987 - very hot and dry year, complete crop failure

11th to 15th century

  • 1150 - crisis years on the Moselle and Rhine, presumably due to overproduction because of the enormous expansion of vineyards caused by the climatic warm phase led to a great wave of emigration of winegrowers, mainly to the Carpathian region.
  • 1185 - splendid wine in large quantities, harvest begins on 1 August
  • 1293, 1295, 1297 - excellent wine in abundance
  • 1343 - a wine from Lindenfels-Pfalz was served in Heidelberg Castle as late as the 17th century.
  • 1346 - Catastrophic year, extreme frost in mid-September
  • 1407 - Severe winter frosts, Rhine frozen over, many vineyards destroyed
  • 1437 - Severe frost, extreme winter destroys vineyards on the Vistula
  • 1443 - Extremely sour and undrinkable wine, so it was used for mortar in the construction of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna; see also under Reifbeisser (hoarfrost)
  • 1450 - after a warm phase from about 900 to 1350, the so-called Little Ice Age began, which lasted with different phases until about 1850
  • 1484 - very good vintage with extremely high yields, over a million litres of old wine were dumped into Lake Constance (Baden-Württemberg) to make room in the barrels
  • 1485 to 1488 - four-year period of bad harvests and poor, sour wines

16th to 18th century

  • 1525 - a good vintage, the wine was demonstrably still...

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Egon Mark

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Egon Mark
Diplom-Sommelier, Weinakademiker und Weinberater, Volders (Österreich)

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