Little Prince Wine Blog


For millennia, a quality drop of rare wine has been the perfect accompaniment to the moments in life most worth celebrating. The more special the moment, the more rare, the more valuable – the more deserving it is of a wine to match. But not all moments are created equal, and the same is true for wines. Here’s what makes a wine worthy of the title – premium, vintage, or rare. 


What makes wine rare?

Like anything, scarcity is the fundamental criterion for a wine to be deemed’ rare’. But this is a broad answer to that question, and the circumstances that make a rare wine can vary quite a bit.

Limited production

This is one of the most common ingredients, other than grapes, in making a rare wine. Many rare wines are the product of very small vineyards or years with low yields. In many instances, the winemaker deliberately chooses the lack of production. 

Exceptional quality

One of the most obvious answers to the question of ‘what makes wine rare?’ is the quality of the wine. The taste for a decadent drop is not limited to our shores alone. Those who appreciate wine are willing to pay for an exceptionally high quality. As a result, these high-quality wines are snapped up and made rarer with every purchase. 

Age and provenance

Age is a natural part of rarity. The older something is, generally, the less of it exists. In the world of rare wines, age counts for a lot. But provenance, which can be described as the wine bottle’s journey to where it is today, is equally important in defining its rarity. 

There could be two bottles of the same rare, high-quality wine on the market. But the one that is most delicately stored and cared for will almost always fetch a higher price. Things like the condition of the wine bottle’s original label, the proof of its storage in a temperature-controlled cellar or whether it still has its original cap are just a few factors that distinguish one bottle from another. 


What are some examples of rare wine?

There are many examples of rare wine, many of which you’ll find at Little Prince Wine. Take our collection of pinot noirs from Domaine Romanée Conti. These wines are rare for a combination of all the reasons listed above. From the exclusivity of their production – an average of 6,000 to 8,000 cases per year – to the international reverence of the Burgundy region in which they are made, these wines are rare before their grapes are even picked. 


What is a premium wine?

Premium wine is the result of the finest elements of winemaking, brought together in a bottle and often cared for – rather than just stored – for many years. Premium wines are expected to deliver on all the characteristics a wine aficionado values most. Things like the depth of flavour, the complexity of the wine’s aromas, the winemaking process, the origin story of the bottle, and its aging potential are all crucial qualities to be found in a premium wine. 

Unsurprisingly, premium wines are also often rare, as many characteristics that make them so good also make them desirable. But one of the distinguishing factors can be the price. Premium wines are often expensive, but a premium wine that isn’t especially rare will fall into a price range that is more generally accessible. A rare wine with genuine scarcity attached to it is likely to fetch a much higher sum


What is considered vintage wine?

In winemaking, a vintage wine uses grapes from a single harvest year. The actual vintage itself is the period of the harvest year in which the grapes are finally ripe and ready to be picked. 


How old is a good vintage wine?

There is a common misconception among wine drinkers that vintage wine equals good wine. This is because of how vintage is used in the rest of the English language.  In many other contexts, vintage often means old or collectible. Often both. Vintage cars, vintage clothing, vintage furniture, etc. But, in the case of wine, it only means that the grapes are picked from a specific period. 

So, the answer to this question is more nuanced. For example, different grape varietals have different ageing potentials. One bottle, like a Cabernet Sauvignon, can benefit greatly from an extended ageing period. But another bottle, such as a Pinot Grigio, could take only a few years to reach its flavour peak. But both bottles are vintage.


What is the difference between vintage and non-vintage wine?

The fundamental difference between vintage and non-vintage wine is whether the grapes used were all picked in the same harvest year. But this is the short answer. The full answer has more to it:

Vintage matters because the characteristics of wine produced at a vineyard can change year after year, even if the grapes come from the same spot. This is because nature leaves a fingerprint on every bottle. One year could have brought a vastly warmer summer with very little rainfall compared to the previous year. Contrarily, another year could produce cooler seasons year-round. This can lead to stark differences in the acidity of the grapes as well as several other characteristics. 

The beauty of this fact is that no two years are exactly the same. This lends a sense of uniqueness to a vintage wine. It’s the knowledge that what you’re tasting is a snapshot of the time of the year it was produced. 

Non-vintage wines are generally considered to be more consistent year on year. If an Australian wine is made using less than 85% grapes from the same year, it is considered non-vintage. Winemakers blend grapes from different years to produce house wines that are usually more drinkable early in their lives than vintage wines.

Is vintage wine better?

The answer to whether vintage wine is better is subjective. It’s entirely possible to get a bad vintage. In this instance, a nicely blended non-vintage wine would surely be better. 

On the other hand, many wine connoisseurs would argue that a non-vintage wine is missing the uniqueness of vintage wines, whose flavour profile is specifically that of a given harvest year. They could also say that the ageing characteristics of vintage wines tend to be better than non-vintage ones – and they’d be right.

From a winemaker’s perspective, smaller vineyards that make more niche wines can live with, even celebrate, the difference in taste of their wines year on year. So, vintage wines are better in that case. However, for some of the larger winemakers, producing a consistent product year on year is important. For them, blended non-vintage (usually written N.V. on the bottle) is a better way to protect the consistency of their product. 

After all that, don’t you just want to sit with a quality glass and relax? We know just the place. Head to Little Prince Wine for your next bottle, or buy wine online today. 


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