Old vines is a nomenclature that appears frequently on wine labels.
Today it is not difficult to find a wine from old vines from Douro or a wine from old vines from Alentejo. The most difficult thing is to discover how old are these vines that result in red wines made from old vines and white wines made from old vines.
But after all, what are old vines? The answer is not simple and objective, because opinions are divided. There are those who claim that a vineyard becomes old from the age of 25, as it is around that age that its production may start to decrease.
Now I ask: so, if at 25 years of age they’re old, what will they be at 75 or 100 years of age? My opinion on this topic is simple: I compare the age of the vines with the age of a person. In this way, the old vines, for me, start from 65-70 years old, that is, when they enter old age.
After all these years, the vines acquire the wisdom of time, as the plant acquires a root system that protects it from the adversities and constant climatic changes that take place above the ground.
There are two main characteristics of old vines. The main one, in my opinion, is the one I mentioned above, a root system that protects it from the adversities that occur above the ground. The other characteristic is that it produces less.
However, I emphasize that in relation to production, the way the winegrower treats and conducts his vineyard counts a lot. When producing less grapes, all the energy produced will go to that lesser quantity produced, reflecting in a better and more balanced ripening of the grapes.
A wine with old vines is usually a wine of greater concentration, with regard to the qualities that a good wine must have, that is, greater intensity of flavor, elegance and complexity.
Unfortunately, a wine from old vines is usually of small batch, with the aggravation that there are less and less of these vines. 10 years ago, it was much easier to find old vineyards in the Douro.
In Alentejo, however, it was always difficult to find them, except in areas such as Portalegre or Vidigueira, or others in which the cultivation of vines was not wiped out during the 1930s, at the time of the wheat campaigns during the “Estado Novo”.
The quality of the wine obtained from old vines is indisputable, not least because a red wine from old vines or a white wine from old vines is always the subject of much care and commitment by the producer, whether in the vineyard or in the cellar, in which the winemaker chooses usually the best barrels to age these wines that carry all the wisdom and history of the vineyard into a bottle.
Now be careful, if you are used to simpler and more direct wines, these from old vines may not be your “cup of tea”.
I challenge you. Now that you know a little more about the old vineyards, try to interpret these wines and let yourself be carried away by the taste of history ... and I assure you that you will start a new period of your journey through the fascinating world of wine.