Champagne Vintage Guide


Champagne Vintages
SILVER

2009 - Silver to Silver Gilt

After early complications August was hot and sunny, with virtually no rain until October, creating ideal conditions for the onset of ripening. A superb summer produced a clean crop of high quality, with particularly good Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims. Wines are plump and approachable with a balance of acidity and many are likely to have potential to be great. Since it's a recent vintage, its mainly just a few rosé champagnes that are in the market.
SILVER

2008 - Silver Gilt to Gold

Initially a difficult, damp year with widespread mildew; drier conditions in August and a fine, warm September proved many producers' saving grace. Classically-styled wines with fresh acidity balanced by sound ripeness achieved by a long and slow ripening. The Louis Roederer 2008 and Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs 2008 give some insight as to what we can expect as more come onto the market; both are elegant with plenty of fruit and re-fresh- ing acidity balance.
BRONZE

2007 - Bronze

An unusually warm spring led to early flowering and optimism which soon gave way to disappointment with one of the murkiest summers on record. Conditions improved towards September allowing a fair crop, with Chardonnay outperforming the Pinots. Champagnes are typically higher than normal in acidity.
SILVER

2006 - Silver Gilt

An exceptionally hot and sunny June and July with grapes in fine fettle but a dank August left producers fearful of under-ripeness. Fortunately, warm, bright conditions in September redressed the balance. Wines are supple and expressive and many brands have made fantastic champagnes. Louis Roederer Cristal 2006 showcases what can be achieved, a complex, powerful and fruit driven delight. In October 2015 we have upgraded the vintage from Silver to Silver Gilt; the release of Dom Perignon 2006 and Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2006 are indicting this is a vintage where the fruit has real purity and is in abundance all balanced with great acidity; these champagnes have all the ingredients for great aging potential.
BRONZE

2005 - Bronze

A dry start to the year with flowering occurring in June. July and August struggled with rain and occasional mildew. However, September proved to save the plants ensuring ripeness and maturity. The crop was a good size, around the same volume as 2004, and the natural sugar levels were good if not exceptional. Overall a mixed harvest with variable conditions, some producers have selected very carefully and made very sound champagne. The Dom Pérignon 2005 shows what great champagne can come from a difficult year, its rich and pure fruit seem to contradict the general weather conditions!
SILVER

2004 - Silver Gilt

2004 was a vintage that showed quality and quantity. A warm September proved to salvage a cold spring that was followed by an early summer. A late harvest of healthy fruit has given a vintage that will exceed expectations of structure and elegance. Good clean fruit characters are typical in this vintage with balanced acidity, with potential for long ageing. Many champagnes are stunning from this year, Dom Pérignon 2004, try the magnums of Pol Roger 2004 and Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs.
BRONZE

2003 - Bronze

A challenging vintage for Champagne in the face of an unprecedented heat wave during the summer months, yet certain producers managed to craft some very good Champagnes, like Krug who have produced an outstanding wine from the vintage.
GOLD

2002 - Gold

Considered one of the best vintages in 20 years, 2002 has shown magnificent comparisons with the great year of 1996. A cold winter and a mild late spring cued for a perfect June allowing flowering. Sunshine and dry conditions throughout September created Champagne with good levels of acidity and fruit in abundance. Most producers, with the exception of Krug have long since released their wines, and these are very highly rated. Salon 2002 is the most awarded from this year, though Louis Roederer Cristal Taittinger Comtes de Champagne are amazing.
BRONZE

1999 - Bronze

A difficult start to the year with damaging hailstorms in early May were rescued by a warm August which gave the grapes a promising outlook for the harvest. A damp September challenged producers, most champagnes have lower levels of acidity and a few are drinking really well today.
SILVER

1998 - Silver Gilt

1998 in Champagne has created a vintage that over time has grown in stature and reputation. A sunny winter paved way for a rainy end to the spring, an early summer of extreme temperature ranges resulted in rainstorms and then finally sunshine at harvest time in September. Chardonnay dominated many blends and the champagnes have high levels of sugar and acidity, which means they just keep getting better with age. Dom Ruinart and Krug are amazing, even more so if you drink from the magnums.
GOLD

1996 - Gold

A fantastic vintage for Champagne, the best since 1990. A long, dry summer was the key to success with the grapes displaying amazing ripeness. All of the grape varieties have done well, with Pinot Noir excelling. Some 20 years on, these champagnes are showing beautifully, especially if you go down the magnum route! Dom Pérignon's Oenothèque 1996 is a bundle of purity and lush fruit, still showing incredible youthful vibrancy.
GOLD

1990 - Gold

A superb year and one of the top half-dozen vintages of the last century. Frost damage in April but the vintage was made by the long, hot and dry summer. The crop was the 3rd largest on record and the wines had excellent alcohol and acidity levels. The ripest wines since 1959 is shown through the depths and finesse of the Champagne. Champagnes from 1990 are now very scarce, Cave Privée in magnum from Veuve Clicquot is incredible.