Not all regions or wine types call for a vintage chart. We've created charts for regions that meet three basic criteria:
- A substantial amount of ageworthy wine is made
- Wine quality can vary significantly from vintage to vintage due to weather variation
- Vintage quality can vary significantly from subregion to subregion within the whole
Many classic European regions are represented because of their traditions of producing top-quality wines that can evolve over decades. Bordeaux, Burgundy, Piedmont and Tuscany are examples. In contrast, many emerging regions haven't yet established a track record for aging, making it premature to predict how a vintage will fare over time.
Some wine types, especially many of the world's whites, are best enjoyed within a year or two of bottling. A chart listing every year as "Drink" or "Past Peak" would not be that helpful. Red wines have the benefit of tannic structures to assist longevity, so they are more commonly featured in charts. However, white wines from certain regions can develop into advantageously old age; examples include white Burgundy, German Riesling (especially the sweeter styles) and great vintages of sweet Loire wines.
In addition, some regions that produce worthy wines may not currently export a significant volume of wine to the United States or have widespread U.S. distribution so that we can make a comprehensive assessment. For most charts, we taste hundreds of wines before rating a vintage; at a minimum, for small subregions, we sample dozens of wines.
We have expanded our lineup of vintage charts in recent years, and continue to do so as various regions evolve.