So obviously there is a bit of a misconception in wine that all wine tastes better after years of ageing… I’m afraid it’s just not true… So basically how do you tell a wine that can be aged Vs a wine that is best drank sooner than later?? I got to say what most people do is base how long the wine will last for on how expensive it is… And it occurred to me that Champagne is pretty pricey… So on first look Champagne at €50 might just be the best thing to let cellar for about 15 years or so… but be careful because if you see NV on it, then it is a Non-Vintage Champagne which is not as suitable to ageing as a vintage Champagne would be…
So now we have to go into what a Non-Vintage Champagne is- essentially, as is the case with any wine, the major determining factor is always down to the climate! So some years may produce fantastic grapes and some years might produce not so great grapes… but there always needs to be Champagne- maybe a new ship needs to be christened, a formula one driver needs to celebrate or maybe some rapper needs to take a bath in the stuff! Whatever the reason people will always need Champagne! So Non-vintage Champagnes are produced using a base wine from the most recent vintage, blended with varying proportions of older wines which have been held in reserve by the house. The blending is intended to maintain the house style and to maximise quality, but in the event of a poor vintage these can be very difficult demands. In simple terms- they hold onto to some of the really good stuff so that each year they can guarantee a certain standard, even if the grapes that year weren’t particularly great. In exceptional years though- they will not only hold onto some of the wine for blending with later vintages, they will call a vintage and that’s when you’ll see the year printed on the bottle!
But here’s where we get to the problem with ageing Champagne… There’s some debate about how long Non-Vintage Champagne can last for. Some say its best to drink it right away, others that it will last another 2 maybe even 3 years! Both valid points- the stuff will prob last that… but how do you know how long its been in the bottle already???? It could have been sitting on the shelf 3 years already…. So another 3 years cellaring will only harm that wine then! Top tip- ask them in the store you’re buying it in! Also ya 3 years is great and will bring out some more complexity… but a vintage Champagne can last 12-15 years and more depending on the vintage!
So when it comes to cellaring champgane- don’t look at the price tag! Look at the Vintage- if its written on the bottle then there’s a pretty good chance that it is from a year that will last for some time! Also final tip- Those special occasions can pop up at any given moment (or so I like to believe) so it’s never any harm to have a bottle at the ready in the fridge!