In Champagne the bulk of the production is non-vintage (85% or more I would estimate), so there is no need to declare a vintage at all. A company can survive and thrive without making vintage wine at all. In fact the non-vintage blend is the flagship of every house. It’s the most difficult champagne to make and it’s the one on which the reputation of the house is made or marred.
It follows, in my view, that if a wine maker does declare a vintage, he or she believes that they have made something out of the ordinary that is worth trying and worth payment a bit more for. So even if the vintage year is not one of the popular ones, you’ll probably have a really excellent champagne to enjoy.
That’s one reason not to slavishly follow the vintage charts and look only for years rated as ‘4 star’
Reason No. 2 is that it’s rare that all the grape varieties in Champagne and all the regions and sub-regions enjoy vintage quality conditions in the same year. A good year for someone who majors on Blanc de Blancs for example could have a great year, whilst someone else, just 20 kilometres away, who favours black grapes in his blends, could have a less auspicious year.
It comes down to the same thing, I think. If you read vintage charts and reviews remember that they only give guidelines and they never tell the whole story. Far better therefore to spend a little time to delve deeper, gather a more information and make up your own mind.
To illustrate how different vignerons have different points of view, below are two very short interviews recorded on 10th October
See you again soon for more news from here in Champagne