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Vintage Guides

Region Rating Drinkability Style
California Cabernet Sauvignon starstarstarstarstar keep Well-balanced, full-flavoured wines from a rollercoaster season. Napa has the edge (4 stars?) on Sonoma and Central Coast regions. Best are built for keeping.
California Merlot starstarstarstarstar keep Spring/early summer brought challenges but ideal harvest produced balanced wines with good depth of fruit, colour and flavour. Best will merit 4 stars.
Germany starstarstarstarstar keep Cool vintage favouring Kabinett/Sp├Ątlese ripeness levels. Hallmarks are fine-boned body, vibrant acidity and ripe fruit flavours. Reds firm and juicy.
Italy Piedmont starstarstarstarstar keep Another 2008 vintage saved by an Indian summer. Expect intense flavours but a more elegant structure than last year. Low yielding harvest.
Italy Tuscany starstarstarstarstar drink soon Very good vintage for later ripening varietals, Sangiovese in particular. Wines are ripe and expressive if lighter structured than last year.
Medoc and Graves starstarstarstarstar keep Classic, ripe Bordeaux, though lacking ultimate wow factor and quality does vary. Dry whites more uniformly successful. Very low yielding and earlier maturing than usual.
Oregon Pinot Noir starstarstarstarstar keep Fresh, elegant, balanced Pinot Noir with fully developed flavours from those winemakers who reduced yields and harvested latest. Good ageing potential.
Red Australia starstarstarstarstar drink soon Challenging harvest heat and rain in eastern half of continent, while plain sailing in Western Australia. Inconsistent quality but some fine examples across the appellations - going on four stars.
Red Burgundy starstarstarstarstar keep Low-yielding and inconsistent quality, but the best wines (often the 1ers crus) have great purity of fruit, focus and fresh acidity: drink early or hold for well over a decade.
Red Rhone starstarstarstarstar drink now Difficult, late vintage, 25% smaller than normal. Those who waited for full ripening have created fresh, mineral, balanced wines for early drinking.
Red South Africa starstarstarstarstar keep Cool, rainy, labour intensive vintage culminating in ideal ripening weather. Inconsistent quality, but ripe, elegant, well balanced reds from top growers.
Red South America starstarstarstarstar drink soon Long, dry season produced very good if not classic wines in Chile: ripe and elegant (nudging 4 stars). Cooler and more challenging vintage in Argentina: success relied heavily on the skill of growers.
Saint-Emilion and Pomerol starstarstarstarstar keep Small, late vintage of quite exciting quality, especially Pomerol. Top wines are seductive, with the structure, tannins and acidity for ageing.
Sauternes and Barsac starstarstarstarstar keep The best wines - from the top terroirs - are fresh and elegant but ultimately lack concentration and depth. Exceptionally small harvest. Nudging three stars...
Spain Rioja starstarstarstarstar keep Ripe, balanced, medium-boded red wines, with bright acidity. Whites are racy with good fruit and floral flavours.
Vintage Champagne starstarstarstarstar keep Tricky, mildew-ridden season but harvested fruit was perfectly ripe and healthy fuelling general optimism.
Vintage Port starstarstarstarstar keep Dry, cool season and fortuitous late ripening for those who held out until mid-September's unexpected sunshine. Single-quinta vintage declaration.
Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon starstarstarstarstar keep A short growing season and long, slow ripening has produced medium-bodied wines that are fresh, elegant and have good definition.
Washington State Merlot starstarstarstarstar keep Very good vintage for Merlot which coped well with the short growing season. Beautifully balanced with promise of complex flavours.
White Burgundy starstarstarstarstar keep Difficult, low-yielding vintage of varied quality. Intriguing combination of richness and fresh acidity due to late sunshine and cold breezes.