When it comes to choosing a bottle of champagne or a vintage, doubt often sets in. What is the best year for champagne? Which vintage should you choose? For the Champagne vineyard, as for wine, not all years are alike. Climatic conditions, exceptional production, early or late harvests—each year has its own specifics. For those not initiated into the world of champagne, it can sometimes be difficult to navigate. Our house, De Lozey, guides you to the best year for champagne. This way, you will be able to make an informed choice when purchasing your champagne.
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Vintage Champagne or Non-Vintage Champagne?
When it comes to champagne or wine, you can talk about vintage or non-vintage cuvées. Only bottles from a vintage, or even from a prestigious grand champagne, bear the year. It refers to a production using the entirety of the year's cuvée.
Indeed, a vintage primarily refers to a year of harvest. The vintage also serves as a reference point for the aging of champagne. Champagne vintages have a longer aging process, a minimum of 3 years. It is during the blending stage that winemakers decide whether to consider the cuvée as a vintage or not. Vintage champagne is recognized for its extreme quality. Thus, it will retain its unique identity without any blending.
When no year is specified on a champagne bottle, it means it is a blend. In fact, the majority of champagnes result from the blending of several harvests from different years. For winemakers, the goal is to offer consistently high-quality champagnes with non-vintage blends. These non-vintage productions aim to perpetuate the identity of a house.
So, there is a real difference between vintage champagne and non-vintage brut champagne. Vintage champagnes are very distinctive. You can explore this in our article on our prestigious range of vintage champagnes. They are also rarer, closely tied to the quality of a specific year's harvest. Finally, they can be considered as vintage champagnes or high-end champagne, as the English would say. Their aging in the cellar is indeed much longer than non-vintage brut champagnes.
Due to their extended aging, vintage champagnes are often considered great champagnes. As a result, their flavors are much more developed. Why not form your own opinion by tasting our range of De Lozey vintage champagnes.
Champagne: What Makes a Good Vintage?
Some may wonder what makes a good vintage or not. First of all, as explained in our article on our prestigious range of vintage champagnes, a vintage is a year of harvest and wine production. Therefore, the conditions in which the grapes are harvested and the elements related to the year influence the vintage. Harvesting in the Champagne vineyard and climatic conditions determine whether a cuvée will be exceptional or not. These factors directly affect the grapes' sweetness and concentration.
Thus, we can say that the elements that allow the production of great champagne are as follows:
- Timing of the harvest
It has been observed that grapes are much more fruity with warm days and cooler nights. Therefore, optimal growth conditions include a cold and humid winter, a mild spring, and a prolonged summer.
In terms of precipitation, drier conditions are preferred. Dryness contributes to the production of generous grape clusters. However, if the summer is humid, it will affect grape maturation in the Champagne vineyard. Finally, the timing of the harvest also matters. Grand vintages have experienced early harvesting.
All of these conditions must come together to produce an excellent year. Some years or vintages will produce great champagnes, while others will produce prestigious grand champagnes. Each year is considered in its entirety during the blending process. Depending on the quality of the still wine, it is decided whether to create a blend or if it is a vintage. The vintage carries its own identity. However, it can also be used in blends in the following years.
Choosing the right vintage and knowing which is the best year is therefore crucial.
Exceptional Vintage Years
Some years are more notable than others. Some are even considered exceptional years that produce grand champagne. Each decade has one or more years that can be considered remarkable.
From 1990 to 2000
During this decade, two exceptional years stand out. First, the year 1990 produced grand champagne, even an exceptional champagne. This vintage possesses excellent qualities as a long-lasting wine, with incredible richness and a strong aromatic profile.
The year 1996 also proves to be an exceptional vintage with great aging potential. The grapes display great ripeness, thanks to a hot and dry summer.
From 2000 to 2010This decade saw several years with exceptional vintages. One such year is 2002, which produced an exceptional vintage, especially in our Côte des Bar, a prestigious Champagne vineyard. Thus, it can be referred to as a 20-year-old champagne.
The year 2008 also produced an exceptionally high-quality vintage. Therefore, many enthusiasts will seek out 2008 vintage champagne.
From 2010 to 2020
In this decade, only the year 2012 stands out. This year is highly rated in wine evaluations. However, while some rate it as 18/20, it is more among the great years than the exceptional ones. Of course, this rating is an average score for the Champagne region. It can vary depending on the slopes, their exposure, and the nature of the soils and subsoils.
To summarize and include vintage champagnes that go beyond 20 years, we have the following exceptional years:
- 1978 and 1979 with a rating of 19/20
- 1988 with a rating of 19/20
- 1990 with a rating of 20/20
- 2020 and 2008 with a rating of 19/20
Great Years for Vintages
In addition to exceptional years, some years can also be considered as great years, as they produce remarkable champagnes.
For example, the following years are considered to be very good vintages...
Between 1960 and 1980
During this period, you can find prestigious champagnes among the vintage champagnes. For instance, 1964 is one of these great champagne vintages over a 20-year span. The champagnes produced that year are full-bodied, elegant, and concentrated. Champagne enthusiasts seeking smoothness and fruity aromas will be delighted.
The 1975 Vintage
It belongs to the very best vintages in Champagne. The champagnes produced that year are of very high quality. They are well-balanced, fruity, and very flavorful. The 1988 vintage can also be considered among the prestigious champagnes. The grapes harvested in 1988 had exceptional maturity.
The 2000s also offer their share of great champagnes.
The 2006 vintage ranks among the great years. In fact, our 2006 vintage has notes of dried fruits and enhanced honey. This champagne can easily compete with those who are fans of the 2006 grand vintage champagne.
In summary, if we were to classify the great vintage years (the best champagne years), we would mention:
- As very great vintages: 2005, 1995, 1979, 1975, 1973, 1971, 1969.
- As great vintages: 2012, 2011, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1989, 1988, 1986, 1984, 1976.
Of course, these ratings are based on average evaluations. Each house, each winemaker can have very great vintages depending on the exposure and nature of their vineyards.
De Lozey's Vintages
Like many winemakers in the Champagne region, we too have had our moments of glory. Thus, De Lozey champagnes also offer vintages from these exceptional years. Before presenting them in detail, here's a quick overview:
- 1999: Very Grand Vintage
- 2002: Exceptional Vintage
- 2004: Exceptional Vintage
- 2006: Grand Vintage
- 2008: Exceptional Vintage
Our Exceptional Vintages
This vintage is among the purely exceptional years. It allows our De Lozey house to offer a complex and elegant extra brut champagne. When tasting, the light bubbles stand out with a lovely effervescence. The range of flavors is diverse: acacia honey blends with candied lemon zest and white currant jelly.
Our 2004 De Lozey vintage is a robust vintage, powerful, and characteristic of Pinot Noir. Due to the climatic conditions, the grapes only swelled at the last moment. This cuvée is therefore mysterious and fleeting. The nose opens with notes of menthol. The flavors in the mouth are those of yellow fruits. Then the aromas of Pinot Noir emerge, with fresh cherries first, finishing with Morello cherries.
The 2002 vintage is generous, with opulent aromas. This great champagne will undoubtedly appeal to enthusiasts of candied fruits and spices. In this year 2002, ripening is early thanks to warm and dry climatic conditions. The grapes are particularly concentrated and sweet. This vintage is very rich in aromas with floral notes, honey, acacia, mirabelle plums, yellow fruits, marmalade, candied fruits. There are also notes of buttery pastries, and a hint of spicy ginger.
Our Very Grand Vintages
1999 is indeed a very grand vintage. The grapes experienced great ripening due to abundant sunshine and warmth. When tasted, our 1999 vintage offers aromas of roasted coffee, pralines, mocha, white chocolate, and frangipane. Additionally, there are hints of honey and acacia, mirabelle plum syrup, apricots, and cherries in eau-de-vie.
Our Great Vintages
2006 is a dynamic and lively vintage, with classic aromas. When tasting, you can perceive notes of ripe fruits and exotic fruits. Later on, notes of mandarins and blood oranges take the lead over figs and apricots.
At De Lozey Champagnes, we are proud of our vintage cuvées. We are committed to producing prestigious champagnes that stand the test of time. And who knows, perhaps our 1999 vintage may one day become a reference as a 1999 vintage champagne.
Now that you have gathered enough information about the best years for champagne, it would be a shame not to taste them. Our De Lozey house, with its range of vintage champagnes, will allow you to find prestigious champagnes from these exceptional years. Your palate will surely thank you. If you remain undecided, here are 3 reasons to choose a vintage champagne.