This article, written by Kerin O’Keefe, appears on Wine Enthusiast.
Readers often ask me: what’s your favorite wine? That’s a tough question, because I love so many, from full-bodied Barolos to the elegant, almost ethereal reds from Mt. Etna, from mineral-driven Soaves to complex, savory Verdicchios. But one thing many of my top picks have in common is vine age, with wines made from old vines leading the way.
You’ve no doubt seen the term “old vines” on many wine labels (think Old Vine Zinfandel) but in Italy, the term takes on a whole meaning.
First some background: there are no regulations in Italy or anywhere in the world on how old vines have to be in order to merit the old vines moniker. In California, some producers proudly consider their 25-year-old plants as veterans. But in southern Italy, we’re talking really old vines, some more than a century old, including a surprising number of centenarian Aglianico vines in Campania’s Taurasi, as well as ancient Nerello Mascalese vines that cling to the steeped, terraced slopes of Sicily’s Mt. Etna. I should also point out that while some Italian producers making wines from old vines use the term Vecchie Viti (“old vines”) on their labels, many more don’t.
But, you may ask, apart from the striking visuals of thick, gnarled vines twisted into Medusa-like contortions, does vine age matter?
Yes, especially when it comes to native Italian varieties. Read more at Wine Enthusiast.
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