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vintage champagne – it’s not like chanel

vintage_chanel

vintage Chanel

I have a friend who works for KCD, a huge fashion PR firm that reps Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Alexander Wang among many others. So when she went to a vintage Champagne tasting, she told me she was surprised to learn that vintage doesn’t mean old when it comes to bubbly.

There are two types of Champagne: vintage and non-vintage (which you’ll see as NV on a bottle). About 90% of Champagne is non-vintage, and is blended into a house style from any year they want out of the wines they have in reserve. Vintage Champagne, on the other hand, is made from grapes that were grown in one year only, a year that’s exceptionally good and therefore will make a great Champagne on their own.

Winemakers “declare” a vintage at the time of bottling, but then age it for at least three years (NV Champs only has to be aged for 15 months). So while vintage Champagne can be old, it can also just be from 2004.

vintage champagne moet

vintage and non-vintage champers

I recently had drinks with one of the winemakers at  Moët & Chandon, Elise Losfelt. Surprisingly, she said the the vintage Champagnes are the easier ones to make – all you do is let the grapes from that year shine and be what they are. The NV wines, however, have to be blended to create a wine that tastes the same each year. If a year’s lacking in weight or a certain flavor, they need to detect that and find a reserve wine from a past year to fill in the gaps.

photo (13)Btw, other fun fact Elise told me: the numbers on the vintage years replicate the writing on the chalk boards they have in their cellar that identify each vintage, and the writing is their cellar master’s (aka “chef de caves”). I love the gritty numbers – really cool and very old school.

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15 thoughts on “vintage champagne – it’s not like chanel

  1. This reminds me of my food & beverage exam in hotelmanagement… but it is funny how most of the people don’t know the difference between vintage and non-vintage.. even amongst those who, as I, are fans of the bubbly!
    xo Marez
    http://cantcooksowhat.com

  2. I love the insight and information that you provide to us “wanna be” wine connoisseurs, such as myself. I bought a Moscato D’Asti this past Friday and I can’t wait to taste it. I’ll have to tell you what I thought of it. What was the name of the wine and what did you think of the flavor? Thanks Grapefriend.

  3. The chalkboard inspired labels are certainly a nice touch and great marketing. I remember touring the caves around Epernay and loved seeing collections from distant vintages still resting. Have pictures of the chalkboards all over now.

    Fun write-up. Thanks!

  4. Vintage doesn’t only apply to champagne. It applies to all types of wine. It’s importance is actually debated. Vintage matters more for places where it’s colder than warmer. Knowing how warm or cold the growing season has been in a particular year in a particular place can help you choose the best vintage.

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