Champagne: vintage and non-vintage
In such a harsh climate like Champagne where grapes struggle to ripen every year with the necessary balance of richness and acidity, it is important to be able to create a consistent house style that can be made annually.
Non-vintage is a blend of many years of vintages with the aim to create a very consistent flavour profile that reflects that particular Champagne house e.g. Veuve Clicquot, Bollinger, Pol Roger. A non-vintage is usually matured for 1.5 years. Each Champagne house has its own style of NV champagne; some are drier, richer, fuller, more floral…the fun is discovering which ones you like!
Then there’s vintage Champagne. Vintage means all the grapes are picked and harvested from that year. It will reflect the weather and terroir of that vintage. Only the best grapes go into a vintage champagne. For example the newest vintage on the market is 2009. The 2009 Pol Roger that Ruth tried recently was delightful and will develop even further in bottle to become more complex, layered, notes of toast and brioche and become deeper in colour.
A vintage Champagne is declared usually 3 or 4 times a decade and makes up under 5% of total Champagne production . Vintage Champagne is matured for a minimum of 3 years.
In addition to vintage Champagne, some houses will make a prestige cuvée sourced from the best vineyards from the best vintage years and spends more time aging. Examples of prestige cuvées include Pol Roger’s Winston Churchill, Veuve Clicquot’s La Grande Dame, Louis Roederer’s Cristal, Moët & Chandon’s Dom Pérignon, Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne and Laurent-Perrier’s Grand Siècle.
We have a selection in store at Swanny Cellars, drop in and ask us!