Australia’s Yalumba is codifying the use of the term ‘old vines’.

Starting with the 2007 vintage, the Barossa producer will use the term ‘old vine’ on labels only for wine made from vines that are at least 35 years old.

In the absence of a nationwide standard for terms like ‘old’, Yalumba says, producers can make arbitrary, conflicting and potentially misleading claims.

So it has decided to impose its own criteria, now codified in the ‘Yalumba Old Vine Charter’.

‘We have been concerned for some years about this “old vine” definition and other nomenclatures in our trade,’ proprietor Robert Hill Smith told decanter.com. ’However we are not lobbyists.’

Ten years in the making, the Charter was formalised in part to encourage regions to start a register of vine planting by vineyard and variety, and in part to spark debate and discussion.

‘So far the reaction has been very positive,’ Hill Smith said .

‘I think this will go further on a voluntary basis for the moment and achieve its own momentum.’

In addition to defining ‘old’, the Yalumba Old Vine Charter indicates that ‘antique’ (or Very Old) can old be used for vines that are least 70, while only those that are at least 100 can be called ‘centenarian’ – or ‘Exceptionally Old’.

A press releases says vines can be called ‘tri-centenary’ if they span three centuries. That would be ‘Very, Bloody, Exceptionally Old’, it adds.

Hill Smith said he hoped not only Australia but also other countries, such as New Zealand, might embrace the terminology.

‘It would be nice if the kiwis came on board,’ he said, ‘as we exited the World Cup together showing a new willingness to partner.’

Written by Maggie Rosen