Generalization can help the wine lover grasp wine complexities to a certain extent. The weather conditions (mild winter, frost, hail, rain before harvest) undergone by the vines and grapes give collective traits to the wines of a certain year in a given region. Here I am thinking about a cool climate such as in Oregon, France or Germany. Here below are examples.
In France and the Italian Piedmont, the 2003 spring rain deficit and the ensuing summer heatwave often resulted in wines that lacked freshness.
In practice, wines of a given county - if bottled at one or two months interval - may share some features:
They are difficult to taste for the same length of time (a few weeks for the 1997s in Burgundy and the Loire Valley, a few years for the 1998s);
They share an acidity tendency: most of them taste fresh (1996 and 2001 in France) or most of them taste flabby (2003 in Europe);
They are rough (1998 in France) or smooth (1996 and 1997 in Burgundy);
A fine wine in an "exceptional" year (1989, 1990, 2000, 2005 in France) is a keeper: it will reward being cellared longer than a wine from the same plot in a "difficult" year (2003, 2004 in France).
Vintage as a word hails from vineyard antiquity. It is used for a variety of things in our culture, but it's origins are found in the vineyard field of interest, which makes sense based on its root word, "vine". I've often thought of vintage meaning old, precious, priceless, seasoned, valuable, rare, etc. ... which would be accurate in some senses.
I love the idea of weather conditions (mild winter, frost, hail, rain before harvest) in a certain season affecting the vintage nature of the wine in good or adverse ways. I can think of seasons within my marriage where we've undergone inclement seasons that have produced a more vintage texture and taste within our relationship. There have been very cold seasons, early frost even, that directly impact the wine produced in that year, for the good or bad. There are certainly exceptional years followed by a "cellared" aged wine that makes me think there isn't a rival glory in all creation to marriage. However, there have been certain very "difficult" years that have produced a very different product. Some of those days and years are ones that you wonder if you should bulldoze the whole vineyard and call it quits.
I'm reminded that the care of a vineyard, much like the care of a marriage, is deeply reliant on an outside source, a Chief Vinedressor to provide the weather patterns that produce vintage wines. You can do all you can in your own power to care for the vine, but if "Mother Nature" (or "Father Vintner" rather) isn't providing rain and shielding frost, it won't matter.
The absolute collaboration with God is essential to producing vintage wines. These seasons that we go through Rough/Smooth, Fresh/Flabby (I love that one!), Difficult/Exceptional . . . we won't survive unless we are praying to the Vinedressor/Vintner of Heaven to send rain and to protect from heatwaves. He has to be an intimate part of the marriage for it to produce vintage wine.