What Champagnes are Age-Worthy?

What Champagnes are Age-Worthy?

What Champagnes are Age-Worthy?

The list of reasons to visit Champagne is very long, but the weather isn’t on it. Located in northeastern France, it’s cold, rainy, windy, and prone to frost. Some growing seasons are worse than others, which is why most Champagne is a blend of wines from different years. These “non-vintage” wines help producers maintain a consistent style from year to year, and while they can absolutely be delicious, they should generally be consumed within a few years of bottling.

When the weather happens to be ideal, a producer might decide to use only that year’s grapes. These “vintage” Champagnes are aged for longer on their lees (dead yeast), which adds body and helps preserve the wine. As a result, high-quality vintage Champagnes can evolve and develop for years or even decades. It is worth noting that certain grower producers release multi-vintage blends from single vineyards that can be as ageable as any Champagnes out there. That’s especially true in large-format bottles like magnums, which allow wines to age more gradually than standard ones.

How Does Champagne Change as it Ages?

Like all wine, Champagne gets exposed to more and more oxygen over time. Its effect on Champagne isn't too dissimilar from its impact on great white wines. The color darkens, the texture becomes rounder and richer, and bright fruity flavors are replaced by nutty, savory ones. As for its bubbles, they dissipate, going from defining feature to supporting role - like James Franco in Pineapple Express rather than 127 Hours.

Producers & Vintages To Look For

Grower producers like Pierre Peters and Agrapart, as well as larger houses like Dom Perignon and Krug are known for highly age-worthy Champagne. Look for bottles from 2012, 2008, 2002, 1996, 1988, and 1982.

We should mention that all of this goes out the window if storage conditions aren’t ideal. That means keeping the wines in a cool, dark place safe from temperature fluctuations or direct sunlight. For truly collectible Champagne, check out professional storage services offered by 3rd parties, or the simplest solution: cellar your wine with us.

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