The years 2000 and 2010 were two great decades for champagne. Because each crop replaced the previous one, the farmers and growers ran out of quality fruit. And this quality is reflected in the latest editions of Champagne without mentioning the year. These are the bottles we’re likely to see in stores – brands that strive to be consistent year after year.
One thing we forget, however, because we so often buy a bottle and taste it right away, is that champagne – even in non-vintage bottles – can age. The lively acidity, the steel and the freshness of the wines guarantee this.
Many Shampanis are bottled when the wines are still young and clear. You can drink it for its light character, but the best offers are balanced by the touch of brioche-type yeast. As the wine ages, a toast appears, which loses the previous fruit and increases in depth and fullness.
What is true for non-vintage champagne is even more true for more expensive vintage bottles. These wines are the product of a year and not a mix of several years, which generally offer more attention and intensity. In the course of this century excellent wines have been exhibited: 2002, 2004, 2008 and more recently among the wines on the market, 2012. These wines last for at least 20 years, perhaps even longer, and gain in depth, intensity and delicious toasted bread aromas.
If you’re impatient to see this aging in action, or if you run out of space to store a lot of bottles, here’s a quick test that scores at least one point (even if it can’t completely replace a real thing). Open a bottle of champagne, enjoy a glass or two and stop with the rest. Keep it in the fridge or wine cooler for a few days and see how it develops nicely. The bubbles stay behind while the taste softens and matures. Yes, the temptation to drink the empty bottle is always present, but this time you resist the temptation to discover the joys of old champagne.
Charles Heidsieck 2004 Blanc de Millenaires (champagne); $250 USD 98 points. This is an iteration of the legendary champagne. Perfectly balanced, always full of white fruit, but simply movingly insane, the wine is at its peak. This wine, which celebrates one of the great champagne wines of this century, is absolutely unforgettable and beautiful. Folio Fine Wine Partners. The choice of basement.
Louis Roederer 2012 Cristal Brut (champagne); $279, 98 points. This is the first 100% biodynamic Crystal produced entirely from Roederer vines, which is an important step. This is the latest incarnation – a great champagne with its density, elegance and balance. Impressively young, the wine is sleek, taut and structured. At the same time, it contains pure, ripe and flavored white citrus fruits, which are an important part of the long-term future of this wine. Don’t drink until 2023. Houses Brands & Treasures USA. The choice of basement.
Pol Roger 2009 Sir Winston Churchill Brutus barrel (champagne); 290, 97 points. As always, this champagne, dominated by pinot noir, is an excellent wine. In this antiquity it is more complete than usual, perhaps less structured – a true reflection of antiquity. Like all editions of this cuvée, the wine will ripen perfectly. Drink now or keep for at least 10 years to reach full maturity. Frederick Wildman and Sons, Ltd. The choice of basement.
Rare champagne 2008 Brut (champagne); 195, 96 points. The new edition of this producer’s prestigious cuvée is presented in his usual beautifully sculpted bottle. The champagne of a grand cru of the region is approaching maturity and still shows the minerality of the large amounts of Chardonnay in the mixture. The peanut flavours permeate your body, giving it great texture and complexity. Drink this very good wine now, even if it has matured. Terlato Wines International. The choice of basement.
Alfred Gratien 2013 Cuvée Paradis Brut (champagne); $125, 95 points. The luxury cuvée of this producer is dominated by Chardonnay. The fermentation of the wood brought herbs, the rich fruit of the champagne, a hint of peach and a dense mineralization. This good wine is ripe enough to drink, but also has a great future. The perfect ripeness must be achieved from 2023 onwards. Frixenet Mionetto USA. The choice of basement.
Henriet-Bazin 2012 Marie-Amélie Millezim Blanc de Blanc Prime Minister Crewe Brut Nature (champagne); $75, 95 points. This champagne is produced in the premium cruising vineyards near Reims and still shows the dry character of the bones that need to be aged. The old vines give concentration as well as texture and mineralization. It is an impressive, spicy, nervous wine, and it will be at its best when it gets soft. Liqueur of the year 2022. Imports of Bongomi wine. The choice of basement.
A.R. Lenoble 2012 Chouilly Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut (Champagne); 90.94 points. The grand cru Chardonnay and the low dosage made this champagne a great future. In other words, with its concentrated minerality contrasting with the fruit of the Meyer lemon, the wine only suggests a certain madness and has far-reaching consequences. Liqueur of the year 2022. Import of Massanois. Editorial selection.
Laurent-Perrier NV Cuvée Rosé Brut (Champagne); $100, 94 points. This beautiful rose combines texture with light fruit and some aging. It ripens between a ripe dose and a crunchy texture, with red fruits and roasted nuts representing the aromas. Now, that’s a nice bottle to taste. US Laurent-Pierre.
Soutiran NV Collection Privée Grand Cru Brut (champagne); $70, 94 points. All the major grape varieties for cruises departing from Ambonne on the eastern flank of the Montagne de Reims, this champagne is impressively rich and perfectly balanced. The freshness of the white fruit aromas is softened by the soothing effect of toasted bread to obtain an excellent ready-to-drink wine. The choice of the holy thirst. Editorial selection.
We recommend it:
Champagne preservation recirculation (chrome)
Glass of champagne by Zalto Denk’Art
Champagne Sabine Godmé NV Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru Brut; 49.93 points. When you have matured for four years on the fox, you get a rich, thick champagne with a bright green apple and pear aroma that stands out because of its acidity. The wine can be kept a little longer in the bottle, so drink from 2021 onwards. Misa import.
Vollereaux NV Brut Rosé de Saignée (champagne); $55, 93 points. It is a delicate wine with nuances of Pinot Noir grape skin structure. It is as rich as it is fruity, which shows both the weight and the bright red fruits. Have a drink now. Palm Bay International.
G.H. Mumm NV Grand Cordon Brut (champagne); $43, 90 points. The characteristic bottle with a curved red stripe contains a champagne style that is getting better and better. This last bottling is crispy and full of citrus and apple aromas, light and spicy. Have a drink now. Pernod Ricard.
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