There appears to be agreement on the oldest grapevines in the world.
The champion is one of the Modra Kavcina variety growing since the 17th century in Maribor, Slovenia. 400 years on, it produces a modest number of bunches which are vinified into a few specially designed small bottles which are used as gifts by the Mayor.
A vine of the Black Hamburg grape planted in 1769 in the UK’s Hampton Court Palace is one of the largest known. It can still deliver a decent crop.
South Australia’s Barossa Valley claims a couple of prizes: the world’s oldest shiraz vines still producing from the 1840s and from 1888 the oldest still-producing cabernet sauvignon.
Does this age matter?
The noble varieties used for the worlds’ best wines take quite a few years to mature and develop their best fruit. Most are at their peak for quality and abundance around twenty to fifty years old.
So are vines over a century old just a curiosity or should they be respected and preserved?
At Langmeil in the Barossa, winemaker Paul Lindner, says of his treasures, the oldest believed to have been planted in 1843: “To make wines from these thick-trunked, dry grown, low yielding gap-toothed old vines is a winemakers dream.”
The star of the Langmeil Old Vine Garden Collection is The Freedom 1843 Shiraz from the 2012 vintage off a single vineyard. The wine is virtually handmade, unfined and unfiltered, and with two years in French oak, stunningly complex and concentrated. Priced at $125.
Not far behind is the Orphan Bank from the same vintage. This comes largely from vines thought to have been planted in the 1860s and saved from a developer’s bulldozer and transplanted. It is blended with fruit from other 70+ years old vineyards nearby. It asks for only 50 of your dollars.
For a mere $40 you can savour some wonderful old-style grenache This variety is often blended with shiraz and so is rarely seen of this quality on its own. It is called the Fifth Wave Grenache honouring the 5th generation of Lindners who revived the old Langmeil site.
Paul’s brother James a 6th generation Barossian says:
“It’s great to know we can still offer people the rare chance to taste and enjoy wines from some of the oldest vines on the planet.”
For a true taste of history, call in at www.langmeilwinery.com.au