Champagne is a sparkling wine made from grapes coming from the Champagne region in north-central France. Producers must follow rules requiring the secondary fermentation of the wine in bottle to create the bubbly carbonation. Champagne is a blending of base wines which, ideally, create a whole greater than the sum of its parts. These “base” wines come from an assortment of wines—the Chardonnay white grape and Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier for red—from various villages and vineyards.
Two areas in the Champagne region are thought to be best for their superior grapes: the Montagne de Reims, which is perfectly located for producing the Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier red grapes, and the Côte des Blancs, whose soils of limestone and chalk are excellent for Chardonnay. The Vallee de la Marne, which lies in a thin band along most of the region and is home to both red and white grapes, is the biggest area other than the Aube district, which lies further to the south.
Each decade, there are only four out of five harvests in the tough climate northeast of Paris that generate the needed ingredients to produce complete and balanced Champagne, vintage-designated, wines. They are, by definition, wines made entirely during the year indicated on the label. Because of this, most Champagnes also blend juice from two and more vintages.
This act of blending vintages is the means Champagnes producers employ to maintain their “house style” and provide their customers with a dependable, and consistent, product. With non-vintage wine accounting for about four out of five bottles of all Champagne produced, it makes sense that the status of most major houses depends on the quality and uniformity of their non-vintage offerings. Lucky for the Champagne-enthusiast, non-vintage bottles are often just as good as their vintage counterparts—and considerably less expensive.
View From The Cellar, 97 points: The 2004 Krug remains one of the most beautiful young vintages of this bottling to be released in quite some time. It does not have the power and sternness of structure of the titan that is the 2002, nor the shimmering...
Wine Spectator, 95 points: A seamless Champagne, showing a texture of raw silk, this weaves vibrant
acidity with an expressive range of glazed apple and poached white cherry
fruit flavors, with pickled ginger and saffron spice details and rich...
Decanter, 96 points: It was a dry vintage up to August, which turned exceptionally wet and cool. September saved the vintage with the ideal weather conditions - low rainfall and cool nights. The graceful nose opens to white flowers, ripe...
Vinous, 93 points: Bright yellow. Bright and precise on the mineral-driven nose and in the mouth, displaying lively citrus pith, pear and melon character. Dry and sharply focused, delivering a suave blend of power and verve and...
Wine & Spirits, 97 points: The energy in this wine recalls the 2002 Cristal (I wrote “energy” three times in my notes.) In 2004, it’s explosive. The wine is saturated with flavor, from floral notes of rose to pale limestone and equally pale fruit...
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