Think of vintage champagne and it conjures up images of the most luxurious and decadent treat to enjoy. It really is one of the most fabulous drinks that we can enjoy and nothing goes better with an important celebration than one of the best vintage champagnes that France has to offer. While such special bottles are not cheap, you needn't break the bank to enjoy a good example if you know where to look. That is where the Gilbert & Gaillard wine guide comes into its own, offering the best advice, rankings and tasting notes on France's finest champagnes.
Understanding non-vintage and vintage champagne
Unlike some of the more famous wine growing regions, very little champagne is actually vintage. In fact, more than 90% of production goes into non-vintage champagne. These are the bottles we are familiar with in most of our wine merchants and perfectly good they are, too. In fact, it is a great skill to blend the wines from sometimes hundreds of of different vineyards, using different grapes and wines from different years to come up with a great champagne. One of the key skills here is to achieve consistency, as customers expect every bottle of a certain type of champagne to taste the same. Where vintage champagne differs, is that the wines in the bottle come from a certain year.
The joys of vintage champagne
Each year brings slightly different growing conditions and therefore the grapes taste slightly different and produce different wines. This means that each vintage champagne, even from the same vineyard, will be a unique taste, as the winemaker cannot use wine from different years to balance out the taste. This truly is one of the joys of vintage champagnes, making the opening of each bottle an adventure as well as a treat.
The variety of vintage champagne
Vintage champagne varies in character from vineyard to vineyard and from year to year, just as any of the great wines do. Each winemaker also has his own style, and will create champagnes that are smoother, drier or more fruity than the other. It is important to know the basic classifications, such as blanc de blancs, blanc de noirs, brut and demi-sec. With Gilbert & Gaillard, however, you can go far beyond these basics and be guided towards a new depth of appreciation of these fine sparkling wines.