Champagne Styles

  • 90% of Champagne sold is non-vintage, made by blending wines from more than one vintage to embody the house style. These wines tend to be lighter with more fruit-driven aromas than vintage Champagnes. Non-vintage Champagne must be aged a minimum of fifteen months by law. Vintage Champagne is made with grapes from a single vintage to show the characteristics of an exceptional year. These wines are aged a minimum of three years; rosé Champagnes have the same aging requirements. Some Champagne houses choose to make rare "téte de cuvée" Champagnes in exceptional vintages. These are made to display the finest wines a house can make.

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  • Non-vintage Champagnes represent more than 90% of all Champagne sold and are blends of wines from more than one vintage. They are blended with the house style in mind and are aged a minimum of 15 months by law. Non-vintage Champagnes tend to be crisp and refreshing with light, fruit-driven aromas. They make excellent aperitifs and pair well with many different foods.

    Vintage Champagnes are made from fruit harvested in a single year (100% from that vintage). These wines are produced to exemplify the character of one single exceptional vintage. For the most part, vintage Champagnes are made only with grapes from Premiers and Grands Crus vineyards. The legal minimum amount of aging time for vintage Champagne is three years from the time of harvest, but many houses age their wines much longer.

    Fun fact: Even in a vintage year, the house has to hold back 20% of the harvest for use as reserve wines. It's the law!

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  • Rosé Champagnes can be can be made using one of two methods: bleeding the tanks (saignée) or how the majority of houses do it by blending white and red wines.

    Rosés made using the saignée method are produced by drawing juice off tanks of fermenting red wine. The fermentation finishes without contact with the pomace, which leaves the wine with a lighter, pink hue. That said, the majority of rosés in Champagne are made by blending white and red base wines prior to secondary fermentation. These tend to show more structure and definition. The fruit character tends to be more berry than stone fruit and, in general, the finish is longer. Rosé Champagnes can be either vintage or non-vintage and follow the same rules for aging as other Champagnes.

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  • Blanc de Noir and Blanc de Blanc wines are often single varietal wines that can express a unique style not possible with a normal blend of grapes.

    Blanc de Blanc translates as "white from white" and means that the wine is only made from the 'white' Chardonnay grapes. The Blanc de Blancs from Ruinart is a wonderful example of this style of wine.

    Conversely, a champagne could be a Blanc de Noir. Meaning "white from black", this would be a wine made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Muenier. Making white wine from black grapes can be a difficult procedure and was mastered in the 1600s by Dom Pierre Perignon.

    These wines can be either vintage or non-vintage.

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  • The prestige cuvée or tête de cuvée is the finest, top-of-the-line Champagne a house produces. These wines are only declared in the very best vintages and are aged for the longest amount of time. There is no legal aging requirement for this category, but in general prestige cuvées are aged as long as economically possible for the house.

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