What is a Vertical Tasting?

A vertical wine tasting compares the same wine over a span of several vintages and makes a great hosting idea. Learn more below.


No two years are ever alike, especially in agriculture. Because of environmental factors such as weather, or producer inputs such as blending decisions, wines can vary significantly from vintage to vintage. A vertical wine tasting offers a fantastic way to experience just how unique these years can be and is conducted by tasting a series of several different vintages of a particular wine. Tasting the same wine across several vintages allows the taster to dive deep into its character and understand its evolution over time.


Hosting a vertical wine tasting is a fun and enlightening way to entertain your next small gathering. Verticals can be set up as simply or elaborately as you’d like. To begin, choose a wine where three or four vintages are available in direct or near succession, and gather as much information as you can about each unique vintage through winemaker, vintage, or tasting notes. Set enough glasses so each taster has one glass per vintage or have a dump bucket available so guests can reuse the same glass. Plan to taste the wines in chronological order, either youngest to oldest or oldest to youngest. Supply paper and pencils so guests can record their impressions and encourage collaborative discussion along the way. As the night progresses, continue to revisit the wines to see how they develop. Was your favorite vintage at the beginning of the night the same as at the end?

2017-'19 Armé Cabernet SAUVIGNON Vertical

What better way to begin your vertical journey than with a three-year set of 2017, 2018, and 2019 Armé Cabernet Sauvignon, available exclusively through the upcoming 2022 Marietta Winter Wine Club. Named after Armé, the husband of Marietta this Cabernet Sauvignon stylistically balances between modern California and Old World. It’s dense with fresh, dark fruit and tempered with a savory, earthy character. 



2017: After two late years in a row, 2017 progressed smoothly with a perfectly timed bud break and fruit set. Harvest was early and relatively small, so Cabernet Sauvignon was brought in earlier than usual, luckily missing the devastating October fires. The resultant 2017 wines are fresh, pure, and powerful.

2018: The 2018 Harvest was a grower’s dream, but it was not without its exciting moments. Spring rains encouraged healthy roots and set up great canopies. The fruit set and cluster development were flawless. Then August and September clocked in as mild, even bordering on cool. Suddenly, the crop’s development potentially started to stall out, but the vines kept working and the first lovely, perfectly ripe fruit was harvested in September. Early October rains soaked the second half of the crop and elicited fears of rot and lost fruit as more storms lined up. Miraculously, the storms failed to materialize, providing a long, dry October and November with beautiful sunny days which slowly ripened the remaining crop. Long seasons like these allow early tannin maturation while the cool weather protects the acid…. All leading to developed, powerful tannins with bright acid at lower than typical brix.

2019: The 2019 Harvest brought another fantastic year of smooth weather with a slow-paced, even growing season. Temperatures were a bit cooler than average, leading to picking a week or so later than typical norms. As per the recent Northern California pattern, fire showed up in late October adding to the stress of the season. However, grapes were picked by then and the only added excitement was power outages and evacuations. Marietta is grateful that their employees and properties stayed safe in 2019 and that the wines show great depth, measured ripeness, and wonderful retained freshness.

Interested in trying this vertical at home? This experience is exclusive to our Marietta Members. We invite you to join the family! Learn more about the many benefits of Marietta membership.