A vertical tasting of all or almost all of a wine’s vintages allows one to obtain a profound knowledge of that wine, its history, stylistic evolution and the context in which this occurred.
One of the most efficient ways to deeply understand a wine, especially if it can age long, is through a vertical tasting. It is also a way among the more classic producers to understand the evolutions, even stylistic, which a wine experiences over different time periods. These differences are also evident in the most classic and traditional wines.
The differences between a pre and post-1985 Barolo Monfortino, between a pre and post-1995 Brunello Riserva Biondi Santi and a pre and post-2000 San Leonardo depend on aspects related to the involvement of new generations and new collaborators in the estates and not just the variations the wines expressed due to a particular year and its weather. Vertical tastings help to get a better and deeper understanding of an estate’s history, in other words, they contribute to a better and deeper understanding of top quality wines which, although defined as “traditional”, have undergone changes over the years.
DoctorWine has published many such vertical tastings over the years. The one of Sassicaia was written by yours truly, Monfortino was from Marco Manzoli, Tenuta Nuova Casanova di Neri was by Ricardo Viscardi and, more recently, I did the one on Amarone Masi. Stefania Vinciguerra is currently preparing an historic one on San Leonardo, which we carried out recently, Iolanda Maggio has done one of Riserva Ducale Oro Ruffino and we are also writing the one of Frascati Luna Mater Fontana Candida, truly amazing. These are just a few examples because over its 12 years our site has published a slew of them (just take a look at the Tastings/Vertical Tastings section on the site) and we believe they have been useful both to us and our readers to have a better and more complete understanding of the wines.
While everyone has their own personal tastes and preferences, I think that if these are backed up by a more “in depth” knowledge they can achieve an awareness that does justice to many wines that represent the history of Italian winemaking. And vertical tastings are a formidable tool in this sense.