Great Grapes! the Best of Last Year's Wines to Buy and Stockpile Now

By Fried, Eunice | Black Enterprise, July 1995 | Go to article overview

Great Grapes! the Best of Last Year's Wines to Buy and Stockpile Now


Fried, Eunice, Black Enterprise


News flash: The 1994 wine harvest is resting in bottle or barrel, and the reports of its health are in:

* Burgundy's quality is just above average, with whites likely to be more exceptional than reds, says Rebecca Wasserman Hone, a wine broker for the Burgundy region of France.

* Bordeaux Wine Bureau spokeswoman Fiona Morrison rates the region's vintage as "good to very good, with firm structure and good acidity."

* Importer Philip di Belardino, vice president of trade relations for Palace Brands at Heublein Inc., reports Italy's quality as very good to excellent in the central and southern regions, and fair to good in the northern regions due to rain.

* Carol Sullivan, executive director of the German Wine Information Bureau, reports excellent wines from the Riesling grape and a good number of sweet, ripe wines, while the earlier, rained-upon varietals are of average quality.

* And California's Wine Institute reports that while quantity is down, quality is high.

Vintage reports are intriguing, but what do they mean? How and when can we judge the wines for ourselves? That depends on the wine. We've all heard about the importance of aging wines, but in fact, at least 85% of the world's wines are meant to be drunk young, a year or two after harvest. Remember, wines from Southern Hemisphere wine-making countries (e.g., South Africa, Chile, Argentina and Australia) are harvested six months earlier--in February and March, rather than in September and October--giving them a half-year head start. Young wines include all roses, many whites and light reds.

Among those white wines best enjoyed in their youth are: Muscadet, Pouilly-Fuisse, Pouilly-Fume, dry Vouvray and Sylvaner from France; Pinot Grigio and Soave from Italy; and dry Chenin Blanc and white Zinfandel from California. …

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