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Champagne Styles

Non Vintage - The ordinary, most basic blend. The best Champagne houses and growers pride themselves on providing a continuous house style through the judicious blending of various vintages. In an ideal world a house would not declare a vintage in a good year if they needed the wine to keep up the standard of their non-vintage, but seldom happens these days. Most non vintage Champagnes are based on wine from a single year, with added reserve wines from previous vintages, minimum ageing before release is 15 months, but all good houses are giving their wines considerably longer, which does wonders for their flavour.

Vintage - Wine of a single, usually good quality year. It's typically fuller, deeper, and a definite leg up the quality scale from non vintage Champagne, but not necessarily more enjoyable for that. Certainly these are less effective as 'spontaneous celebration' wines, to get your best out of vintage Champagne it's worth taking your time to enjoy it.

Cuvee de Prestige/de Luxe - A Special, highly prized, and certainly highly priced blend. Usually vintage but not always. It encompasses some great wines and some unworthy wannabees. There seems to be a rule that the wines must come in distinctively shaped bottles.

Coteaux Champenois - Still wines, either red or white from the Champagne region. They sometimes come with a village name, like Cramant (white) or Bouzy (red).

Cremant - This used to mean a Champagne with less than the normal amount of fizz, but now that Champagne has won the exclusive use of the term methode champenoise (no other wine made by this method may use the term, and now has to use the words like 'traditional method' instead) it has surrendered use of the word Cremant on labels. Cremant is onw only used by Champagne method sparkling wines from other parts of France, as in Cremant de Loire.

Rose - Traditionally the pink colour is gained by a careful and short maceration of the black pinot noir and pinot meunier skins with the juice. However, this method is unpredictable and more often now a little red wine from the region is added to the white just before bottling. The wines are usually aromatic and fruity, but must be drunk young.

Blanc de Noirs - This less common style is made from 100 per cent black grapes. The wine is white, usually rather solid, but can be impressive if aged for long enough.

Blanc de Blancs - An increasingly common style, from white Chardonnay grapes. The wines are usually fresh and bright when young, getting deeper and richer as they age. Many de luxe champagnes come in this style.




 
 

 

 

 

 

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