Clark:

What can one stand to gain by making multivintage/nonvintage blends?
What are the pitfalls and drawbacks of multivintage/nonvintage blends?

Arthur Z. Przebinda
Founder and Publisher
redwinebuzz.com

Arthur:

The truth? Let me get on my hobbyhorse. Removing the constraint of vintage purity gives the winemaker more freedom to blend for consistency, complexity and balance. Thus non-vintage wines are without exception a superior product and a better deal for the consumer.

However, Brother Timothy of Christian Brothers basically brought that winery to its knees by insisting on a non-vintage direction, because it was perceived as a commitment to mediocrity, and to advocate this simple truth is still marketing suicide today.

For those of us who make wines which take longer to come around in the bottle, vintage dating has a second concern today, which is its new role as an expiration date. Any chardonnay on the market now labeled before 2006 is suspect – something must be wrong with it or it would have sold by now. We are just coming out with our 2004 because the combination of lees contact, minerality and lower alcohol (12.9) causes it to close up for five years or so.

This stale goods phenomenon is worst in dry rosés. The consumer seems to think that 2008 is now over the hill, and will only buy 2009 this summer. In fact, most rosé is pretty reductive for the first year or two. Even Sutter Home White Zinfandel takes over a year to open up.

The solution we’ve found to this problem is to remove the vintage date from our rosés. Everybody should do this until the American consumer wises up – not likely any time soon. In a time when consumer ignorance is at an all-time high, it should be illegal to vintage date rosé.

Clark