A vintage wine usually costs a little more, but why? Here’s what makeS it special. A vintage wine is made from grapes that were grown in a specified year. So therefore, a vintage Cabernet Sauvignon from 2002 means that the grapes used to make the wine were from the harvest of 2002. While most countries allow a vintage wine to include a small portion of wine that is not from the stated vintage, it is usually minimal and may be added to enhance the flavor.
There are subtle variations in a wine’s character from year to year, that’s why some years are better than others. So an older wine does not really mean that it is better than a younger one. The year to year differences can be in color, palate, nose, body and development. Quality red wines usually improve in flavor with age if properly stored. That is why wine enthusiasts save bottles of an especially good vintage year.
The United States has rules and laws for vintage wines. For a wine to be vintage dated and labeled with the area that the grapes were grown, it must contain at least 95% of the grapes from the harvested year. If the wine does not have a specific area where the grapes where grown then the percentage drops to 85%. Vintage wines are generally bottled in a single batch so that every bottle has a similar taste. The climate where the grapes were grown can have an impact on the character of a wine. Different vintages from the same vineyard can vary dramatically in flavor and quality. Vintage wines are produced to have individual characteristics of the vintage. That is why great vintages from reputable producers and regions will cost much more than average vintages. Some wine makers only release vintage wines in years when the grapes are better than average, and therefore those vintages are only available in very limited quantities.
Now the bottom line. Is a vintage worth the higher price? In most cases it is but the true test is your palate. If it is the wine you like, then it is worth it. If not, no matter how great the vintage was, it is not. You have to make that decision.