Diana Snowden-Seysses, the winemaker for Domaine Dujac and Snowden Vineyards, who has been living and making wine in France since 2001, said being asked to speak on the panel prompted her to look deeper into the commonly held theory that vineyards older than 40 years or so produce better wine.
One possible reason, she
said, is that older vineyards have a better balance of vigor.
Whereas young vines often try to expand their shoots in every direction, thereby shading fruit too much and promoting disease, older vines are trained to keep dimensions in check, expending less energy and resulting in more concentrated fruit.
Another key point, she
said, is that older vines have more fully developed root systems, and their penetration deep into the vineyard soil provides better expression of a region's terroir.
Plus, deep roots make older vines less prone to the effects of drought.
said, "irrigation is illegal" in many appellations in Southern Europe."
As for which attribute makes the most difference when it comes to wine derived from an older vineyard, Snowden-Seysses
emphasized that older vineyards have more genetic diversity -- from variation in leaf shoot to flowers per cluster and berry size -- and that this difference results in more complex, interesting wines.