Next to Champagne’s rare treasures, the humble term non-vintage doesn’t exactly stir the passions. Defining something by what isn’t there seems a strange approach. Even the French term ‘brut sans anne?e’ (literally, ‘brut without vintage’) sounds a little apologetic. But these are wines that are worth talking about.
Changes are afoot in the region, and it’s time to re-examine Champagne’s entry level. Non-vintage is the bread and butter of Champagne, accounting for some four-fifths of all Champagne sold, according to the most recent figures from the region’s governing body. The term refers to Champagnes made by blending wines from a base year – the most recent harvest – with reserve wines held back from previous years. The wine must spend a minimum 15 months in bottle for the second fermentation and ageing on lees, in contrast to three years for vintage wines.