What is Vintage / Non-Vintage Champagne?

 Non-vintage Champagne (NV)
 In order to create well-balanced Champagne, producers will use specific grape varieties and blend wines from varying years and harvests. This ensures that the flavour and quality of the Champagne is maintained from previous harvests. Non-Vintage (NV) Champagne is more affordable than its vintage counterpart, but is still remarkable, accounting for nearly as much as 90% of all Champagnes produced. Producers reserve a portion of their harvest each year to use in future blends.

Once a non-vintage Champagne has been blended, legally it must mature in the bottle for a minimum period of 15 months before it can be sold to the public. As Champagne’s age they develop more intense notes which are pleasing to the palate.

  

    

 

Vintage Champagne
Vintage Champagnes, also known as millesime, are created from grapes harvested during a specific year. Not all years are deemed “Vintage”, only certain years with exceptional harvests can be declared as vintage and this status is determined by the individual Champagne Houses. The year of the vintage is always displayed on the front label of the Champagne bottle.

Once vintage Champagne has been blended, legally it must mature for 3 years before it can be sold to the public. Champagne Houses will commonly age their bottles for longer periods.

 

 

 

 

Classification of Champagne Vineyards

Premier Cru
Premier cru refers to a village that would have been rated between 90-99% on the old échelle des crus ("ladder of growth" - the old pricing system for Champagne). That is to say that the grapes would have received 90-99% of the fixed price for grapes. 
A grand cru would have received 100%, so a premier cru is the second "best" Champagne classification.

  

Grand Cru
In Champagne, grand cru is a classification that used to determine the pricing of grapes. There are 17 grand cru villages, and these continue to enjoy a high-level of prestige.
For a Champagne to be called "grand cru", 100% of it's grapes must be sourced from vineyards in grand cru villages.

  

 

Grape Varieties

Champagne is usually made using three grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. They all contribute to the complexity of the Champagne is different ways:

  • Pinot Meunier provides fruitiness and bouquet
  • Pinot Noir provides fullness and ability to age
  • Chardonnay provides finesse and elegance

It is up to the cellar-master to choose the percentages of each grape in the Champagne to create the very best from his grapes.

 

There are various types of Champagne which can differ widely in terms of both taste and price. 

Grape Varieties & Styles of Champagne

Styles of Champagne

Brut 
Brut Champagne is dry, containing little or no residual sugar, usually between 0% and 1.5%.

Rosé
Rosé Champagne or as it is commonly called “Pink” Champagne can be created by one of two methods: the addition of a small quantity of Pinot Noir to the Champagne or by allowing the grape skins to colour the wine – this is known as the saigneé method.

Demi-Sec 
Sweeter champagne, usually containing 3.3% and 5% residual sugar
 
Cuvée 
Cuvees are blended from the most subtle and distinctive wines in order to create a well-balanced Champagne.
 
Prestige Cuvée
Prestige cuvées are the finest Champagnes that a producer makes, the grapes used come from the best harvests in a specific year and the best vineyards.

Recently Disgorged
This Champagne is disgorged just before being sold, maintaining its freshness. The Champagne is also able to mature for longer in the bottle.
 
 
Blanc de Blancs                        
Champagnes made using only Chardonnay grapes - a choice white grape variety from the Champagne region. Blanc de Blancs champagne is usually lighter in colour.  Classic Blanc de Blancs is elegant when young, as it ages it develops a richness resembling brioche with an intense expression of fruitiness. Blanc de Blancs usually has a longer ageing potential than a typical Blanc de Blancs
 
Blanc de Noirs Champagne
Blanc de Noirs Champagnes are made from two grapes, the Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier varieties. Bollinger's prestige cuvée Vieilles Vignes Françaises from ungrafted, old Pinot Noir vines has set the yardstick in the style that is now produced by a number of other Champagne houses. A typical Blanc de Noirs cuvée has deep golden colour, and can be more intensely flavoured than the classic non-vintage multi-grape blend.
Blanc de Noirs Champagne

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Champagne Bottle Sizes

 There are nine different sizes of Champagne bottles

 Champagne Bottle Sizes

 

  

NameVolumeQuantity

Mini / Piccolo 

 200 ml 1/4 bottle
 Half375 ml 1/2 bottle 
 Standard750 ml 1 bottle 
 Magnum1,500 ml 2 bottles 
 Jeroboam3,000 ml 4 bottles 
Methuselah 6,000 ml 8 bottles 
Shalmanazar 9,000 ml 12 bottles 
Balthazar 12,000 ml 15 bottles 
Nebuchadnezzar 15,000 ml 18 bottles