2017 is not going so well for many producers. If you read Cameron’s last blog you‘ll have heard that severe frost affected many parts of France, such as the Languedoc, Bordeaux, Chablis, Jura and Champagne regions. Losses are up to 90% of the harvest to come, which is obviously heartbreaking. England was not spared and some producers suffered significant damage too. It reminded me of the role of reserve wines.
Reserve wines are wines from previous vintages that you keep in storage over the years, typically in large wooden vats, or barrels. They have two main purposes: guaranteeing both quantity and quality.
What does a producer do if harvest yields are down more than 50%? He will still produce a little bit of wine, but in limited quantities. If he’s lucky enough to have reserve wines, he can produce a larger amount of wine by blending both wines together. In Champagne, between 10% and 20% of reserve wines are typically added to the vintage, and sometimes even more if the vintage was really low in terms of yields.
Reserve wines can also be used with regard to quality: either they can be blended with the last vintage in order to maintain a constant taste (this is what most big Champagne houses would do), or conversely they can be used to create wines that are very different from year after year.
Our goal at Rathfinny is to start and create a “bank” of reserve wines this coming harvest, with the vision of crafting every year a consistent product. We’d like people to taste our wines and recognise them instantly as a “Rathfinny signature wine”. Wouldn’t that be something?