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Non Vintage Champagne

Non-vintage (NV) Champagne, as opposed to vintage Champagne, constitutes a blend of wines from multiple years and is typically recognised as the signature style of a Champagne house. Unlike its vintage counterpart, which comes from a single year's harvest and exhibits the unique qualities of that particular year, non-vintage Champagne showcases a consistent house style, providing a reliable and familiar flavour profile to consumers year after year.

The House Style

Non-vintage Champagne is crafted to reflect a Champagne house’s consistent and identifiable character, known as its "house style." This style is a blend, often of wines from various years, which may include both reserve wines (older wines stored for future blending) and wines from the most recent harvest. This blend, often comprising wines made from different grape varieties, from different parts of the Champagne region, and from several different years, is artfully created to represent the core identity of the brand.

The Art of Blending

Blending is at the heart of non-vintage Champagne production. The cellar master, or chef de cave, meticulously selects wines that will contribute the desired characteristics to the blend, ensuring that the end product reliably conveys the house style. This involves balancing the acidity, fruitiness, and structure brought by wines from various terroirs and varietals and carefully marrying the freshness of newer wines with the complexity and depth of reserve wines.

The Champagne-Making Process

The creation of non-vintage Champagne follows the méthode champenoise or traditional method, involving primary fermentation, blending, secondary fermentation in the bottle, ageing on lees, riddling, disgorging, dosage addition, and further ageing before release. The minimum ageing period for non-vintage Champagne is 15 months, with at least 12 months on the lees, although many houses exceed this requirement to add further complexity to their wines.

Varietals and Terroir

Champagne is predominantly made from three grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Each grape contributes distinct attributes to Champagne: Chardonnay offers acidity and elegance, Pinot Noir brings body and structure, and Pinot Meunier adds fruitiness and floral notes. The specific terroirs of the Champagne region, with its chalky soils, cool climate, and varied vineyard aspects, also impart particular characteristics to the grapes, providing an additional layer of complexity to the wines.

Prominent Producers and Labels

Iconic Champagne houses like Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, and Bollinger are esteemed for their non-vintage offerings, which exemplify their respective house styles and provide a gateway to their world of sparkling wines. Moët & Chandon’s Impérial Brut, noted for its bright fruitiness and seductive palate, or Veuve Clicquot's Yellow Label, with its rich, toasty character, are quintessential expressions of their respective house styles and are crafted to be consistent and recognisable to consumers worldwide.

Appreciating the Flavour Profiles

Non-vintage Champagnes can span a spectrum of flavours and styles, from crisp, citrusy, and light to rich, nutty, and complex. They may showcase notes of fresh apple and pear, lemon zest, almond, brioche, honey, and more, often with a characteristic minerality and vibrant acidity. The precise flavour profile will depend on the blend of grapes, the influence of reserve wines, and the house style.

Ideal Pairings

Champagne, with its effervescence and acidity, is celebrated for its versatility in pairings, complementing a range of dishes from delicate seafood to rich, creamy sauces. Non-vintage Champagne, depending on its profile, may pair excellently with oysters, caviar, fried appetisers, sushi, or even popcorn. Serving it chilled, typically between 7°C to 9°C, and in a tulip-shaped glass allows the bubbles, aromas, and flavours to be optimally enjoyed.

A Testament to Skill

In a nutshell, non-vintage Champagne is a remarkable expression of a Champagne house's expertise in blending and ageing. It embodies the enduring identity of the house, ensuring that despite the variations in each year's harvest, the Champagne that graces the consumer's glass is reliably familiar and of high quality. It is a testament to the mastery of the cellar masters who, through their skill in blending, curate a multi-dimensional yet harmonised drinking experience that has come to define the illustrious reputation of Champagne.

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Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial product image
Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial
75 cl / 12% ABV
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6 Reviews
Mercier Brut product image
Mercier Brut
75 cl / 12% ABV
Bollinger PN AYC18 product image
Bollinger PN AYC18
75 cl / 12.5% ABV