One of the most beautiful mysteries of wine is the constant evolution that suffers. The same bottle, tested several days apart, can develop different nuances. This is because wine is housed with a multitude of bacterial that changes and changes the characteristics of the beetled wine.
In the barrels significant changes takes place too, when the wine’s contact with the wood of the barrel due to the particles that fall off from wood and mix with the liquid.
But one of the most important changes and less significance is the vine itself, which over the years builds up grapes with different characteristics. That means that each year the wine is unique and unrepeatable, because factors will never be exactly the same again.
What is the mystery of a good harvest? The grape has to grow with nutrients metabolized by the plant. That is, if a vine is watered and generously provided with salts, the grapes grow large and full of juice, but that juice will only contain water and salts. However, if a vineyard suffers the lack of water to feed the grapes, the plant will slowly break down every molecule of water that the roots are able to find on earth, and therefore the grapes will grow small and the production will be low, but full of the vine properties.
On the early years of a vineyard, the vines produce grapes in abundance. We will get plenty and beautiful fruits with lots of sugar and really tasty to the palate. However, its use to produce wines is not recommended because the grapes have very few nutrients provided by a plant too young in which sap flows quickly and comfortably though and If we made wine with them it would turn to be quite acidic and poor in flavor.
It is well known that until the vineyard was 5 years old it was not recommended to use the grapes to produce wine. Now a days, the new vineyards care techniques has accelerate the development of the plant and vineyards so within 3 years more than acceptable wines can be made.
Through the first 20 years, a vineyard increases producing grapes. Moreover, one generally has to “cut” grapes (cut bunches before the vintage, so the plant will produce fewer but higher quality grapes). The fruits are still great and full of nutrients.
After 30 years, we face what are considered old vines. Regardless of the richness of the soil, the plant has undergone many pruning and “arteries” do not work as they did due to ageing and so that the transition from the sap of the plant is done slowly and with difficulty, making the clusters scarce, small and full of tannins. It is difficult to make wine from old vines, among other things because you need a larger vineyard to get the same amount of wine, but the quality increases over the same vineyard as a youth.
That does not necessary mean that wines from old vines are always better, because as important as age is the state of conservation. Someone Tell that to George Clooney …
In Spain there are several wines from old vines that have been internationally recognized. Among them, who opened the “path” was “Baltasar Gracian Viñas Viejas Grenache“, San Alejandro’s Co., in Calatayud, of which Robert Parker said that it was incredible that such an excellent wine cost less than $ 3 (at the time)…
To end, here is a phrase of Sir Francis Bacon: “Old wood to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust and old authors to read.”