Topic of the Week 4/22/2019 - Advanced

More current event knowledge on Port Vintages last week from , , and .

This week: What is the Barossa Old Vine Charter? Is there any other systems like it in the world of wine?

  • The Barossa Old Vine Charter was originally developed by Yalumba in an effort to classify and celebrate the old vines that were unaffected by phylloxera and survived 1980's vine pull schemes.  In the Australian podcast, I found it interesting that many of the growers noted that despite surviving phylloxera and the vine pull scheme, the vine itself wouldn't be around unless it produced great fruit. The old vine charter is self regulated and contains 4 levels:

    Old Vine - 35 years

    Survivor Vine - 70 Years

    Centurion Vine - 100 Years

    Ancestor Vine - 125 Years

    As for other schemes in the world:

    Heritage Zinfandel CA Project -

    VIGNO Old Vine Chilean Carignan -

  • This classification system was formalized in 2009. Up until then there was nothing in place to preserve and promote these unique areas. The vineyards are registered by age and each of the 4 levels holds significant attributes such as fruit quality, yield, dry farming, rootstock and viticultural tradition.  I don't know that there are formal systems in these places but one of the world's oldest vines is NE Italy in South Tyrol planted to Versoaln where 350 year old vines are still producing wine in small amounts.  Some of the oldest thought to be vines are also located in SW England and the area is called The Great Vine at Hampton Court Place and planted to Black Hamburg. I think they are protected sites but again not sure about a formal system.  

  • Rioja Vinedos Singulares requires 35 years old vines. Not really the same as Barossa OVC, but still has a requirement for vine age. 

    Another initiative in Spain is the Vino de Vina Vieja, which isn't quite recognized yet. 

    South Africa has a couple, The Certified Heritage Seal (SAWIS approved), and the Old Vine Project. 

  • To expand a little bit more on the 4 levels that Greg broke down for us:


    Barossa Old Vine - equal or greater than 35 years, the wines have grown to full maturity and they have a great track record of producing high quality vintages.

    Barossa Survivor Wine - equal to or greater than 70 years of age, represents a certain milestone that the vines have reached using traditional methods.

    Barossa Centenarian – equal to or greater than 100 years of age, pre-phylloxera that have been protected and allowed to mature into thick trunks with naturally sculpted forms.  They represent a time when dry-farming techniques and site location had to be researched and applied meticulously.

    Barossa Ancestor Vine – equal to or greater than 125 years, goes back to the early European settlers of Barossa. Dry grown, low yield vines that produce fruit that has great structure and instensity.

  • There’s also the Historic Vineyard Society established in California in 2011, a non-profit “dedicated to the preservation of California’s historic vineyards.” Vineyard Criteria include: 

    • A currently producing California wine vineyard
    • Original planting date at least 50 years ago
    • At least 1/3 of existing producing vines can be traced back to original planting date

    Great to celebrate and help preserve these old vines but it’s  interesting to me that the Cabernet Sauvignon that topped Mouton-Rothschild, Haut-Brion, Montrose etc. at the judgment of Paris tasting (‘76) came from vines only on their third leaf. 

  • I mean, sure, it was probably easy to write after we have her all the ideas. Stuck out tongue winking eye

  • Thanks guys! Now, can I please have 6,000 words on Semillon? ;)

  • Wanted to add the following:

     DO Calatayud Superior - min 50 year old Garnacha tinta vines at min 85% of the red blend; Low yields.

  • I hope 5000 of those words are dedicated to convincing people to age it longer. It tastes like watered down vodka lemonade to me young, but once the piles of unsold bottles get 8 to 10 years under their belt, they turn into something magic. I’d like to see less semillon released in the year following vintage.