Old vines in Europe: How long can a Grenache vine live?

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Old vines in Europe: How long can a Grenache vine live?

Once you introduce yourself within the complex –but fascinating- world of wine, you start to realize there are many indications of quality on wine labels. However, there is one quality indicator used all around the globe and not required by law anywhere, being also a source of pride: it is the term Old Vines.

An old vine is generally considered old at the age of fourty years, when the vine is already 10 years over the hill and produces less and less fruit. The vigor, which is the amount of a vine’s vegetative growth, has stopped growing 20 years ago and now it declines dramatically, resulting on extremelly low yields (1.000 – 2.000 kg/Hectare, which basically means you need 1-2 plants to produce a bottle).

Consequently, old vine wines are proven high in quality because they produce less grape bunches and therefore the flavor becomes more concentrated. The exposure of sunlight also influences the old sage’s canopies, eaves, fruit and trunk, which are thinner and allow more daytime sun soaks, and have a food deliver system that gets the nutrients to the grapes more easily. The result are wines with concentrated fruit and tannin, where acidity has a lot of presence. A vine with a past of elegant wines, has now a present of regal ones.

In this context, Garnacha has a lot to say, or rather, a lot to show. The varying landscapes, elevations and soil types where Garnacha is planted prove the versatility and extreme adaptability of the grape, with late harvests that resist to adverse climate conditions and diseases and therefore, the passing of time. Concretely in Aragon, its native land, it is believed to find 110-year-old vineyards! Having its origin in Souther Europe, some of the regions with the greatest plantations of Garnacha old vines – particularly in red- are Aragon (Spain) and Roussillon (South France). In the region of Terra Alta (Catalonia), we can find great Garnacha Old Vines in its white variety.

This is one of the major reasons why in these places old vines are considered a treasure among winemakers, who firmly try to transmit the old terroir to the senses of the consumer. A glass of Garnacha is able to take you, wherever you are, to the lying spot of old vineyards.

It even sounds easier than it really is… but hard work pays well when you have such a good “gift” in your hands.

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