Champagne – what’s the difference?

Sometimes in the excitement of drinking Champagne we may miss what makes each Champagne different. One of the main differences is whether it is a Vintage or Non-Vintage Champagne. Easily enough, a Non-Vintage Champagne (NV) is where Champagne is made from a blend of different wines from different years. The Winemaker balances the flavour, aromas and tastes uniformly year on year consistently producing a Champagne that the Champagne label is known for. A Non-Vintage Champagne must mature for a minimum of 15 months on the lees. Many prestige Champagne Houses blending and style of seasoning can produce very high quality Champagne and is best to be enjoyed straightaway.

A Vintage Champagne is when 100% of the grapes come from one particular Vintage (year). Every year may produce slightly different yields due weather factors which influence the grapes so some Vintages are considered more exceptional that others. Vintages are almost always declared from a year of a particularly good harvests. Vintage Champagne must spend a minimum three years on its lees whereas some of the premier champagne houses keep their wines for upwards of five to ten years or more. Some Champagne Houses only produce vintage Champagnes like Dom Perignon. Krug Champagne produce Vintage Champagnes from very small, exclusive vineyards as well as their ‘house’ multi-vintage Grand Cuvée which includes a blend of several different years. Recent Vintages declared exceptional years for Champagne are 2002 and 2004; Vintage Champagnes may be kept to drink years later as the Champagne flavour and taste enhances as it matures.

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