NV Champagne or Non-Vintage Champagne as it’s formally known, is one of the most consumed alcoholic drinks in the world today. What is most fascinating about NV champagne is the fact it’s made from multiple different vintages of grapes. This means that the Non-Vintage Champagne winemakers blend grapes which have been picked in different years.
Difference between NON-VINTAGE and vintage champagne
The difference between Non-Vintage and Vintage Champagne is that Vintage Champagne has been made from a single years’ grape crops. On the contrary, NV Champagne is produced by blending multiple different vintages (years).
Non-Vintage Champagne is produced more often than Vintage Champagne. Winemakers’ only opting to produce a Vintage Champagne in the best years. For example, if 2022 had optimal growing conditions from February to August where the grapes were allowed to ripen fully without being subject to frosts, wind, hail or a general lack of sunshine, then the winemaker may decide that 2022 will be a Vintage Champagne year. This would mean that on the bottle of Champagne they would make reference to the fact it is a Vintage Champagne and include the year in which the grapes were picked on the label, being the vintage.
Is NV Champagne good quality?
In terms of sparkling wine, Champagne is considered some of the best sparkling wine around the world. Even though in NV Champagne is a blend of different vintages, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the quality of any particular vintage is poor. In fact, thanks to global warming, the quality of Non-Vintage Champagne has never been higher.
Producers of NV Champagne see the blending process as an opportunity to maximize the Champagne’s potential and therefore potentially improving it beyond what is a Vintage Champagne. The amazing thing about Non-Vintage Champagne is that the Champagne Houses and top brands are able to produce consistently tasting NV Champagne year on year even though they’re using grapes of different quality as a result of using multiple vintages.
As an example, the 2021 vintage was quite poor in terms of quality of grapes produced across France. Winemakers all over the country suffered heavy frosts at the beginning of spring along with more rainfall than expected throughout the summer. This resulted in lost volume (quantity of grapes grown) and taking longer for the grapes to ripen before they were ready to be picked and crushed. In contrast, the summer of 2018 was extremely dry and warm and vines weren’t impacted by any frost or wind damage. The vines were heathy and the grapes were able to to ripen fully before being picked at the optimal time in early September.
NV Champagne producers would then be using the grapes picked in 2018 and 2021 (amongst other years), blending them together to produce Non-Vintage Champagne which would be released to the market in 2023. One of the main skills the Champagne Houses require of winemakers is for them to be able to ensure a level of consistency in the taste of their Non-Vintage Champagne. This is because there is an expectation from consumers that their brand has a specific taste profile year on year.
Best NV Champagne brands
The best NV champagne brands include Ruinart, Moët & Chandon, Laurent Perrier and Bollinger. All of the Champagne Houses mentioned produce both Brut and Rose Brut NV Champagne. Now let’s take a look at how a few taste:
VEUVE CLICQUOT NV CHAMPAGNE
Verve Clicquot NV Champagne Brut has aromas of apricots, peach, nectarines & brioche. Fine bubbles stream through your Champagne Flute before taking your first sip. In the mouth expect fresh stone fruits which combine well with pear and lemon before finishing off with balanced acidity. You can buy Veuve Clicquot NV Champagne Brut in Savage Vines online wine store for £49.95.
Ruinart NV Champagne Brut
Ruinart NV Champagne Brut has aromas of apple, pear and almond which bring a savoury element to your nose. Once you are lucky enough to get it into your mouth you will be awash with crisp apple, pear, nectarine followed by striking acidity. Ruinart NV Brut pairs well with crayfish or natural oysters with squeeze of fresh lemon juice. You can buy Ruinart NV Brut in Savage Vines online wine store for £54.95.
Moet & Chandon Imperial NV Champagne Rose Brut
Moët & Chandon Imperial NV Champagne Rose Brut expresses aromas of rose petal along with fresh red berries such as raspberry and cherry. In your Champagne Flute you will see a pale pink tone of sparkling Champagne with fine bubbles streaming toward the surface. Once in your mouth you will experience juicy peach flesh, fresh summer red berries and a balancing acidity to finish. You can buy Moët & Chandon Imperial NV Champagne Rose Brut in Savage Vines online wine store for £59.95.
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