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Is a single year worth more than several ?

Champagne is clearly a region apart, clearly a unique wine region, it is the only one to market a wine made from a blend of several years. We then speak of Brut Sans Year or BSA champagne. While the vintage is the norm in other vineyards around the world, in Champagne a vintage is only vintage in great years, on average 3 to 5 times per decade. Follow the guide to buy champagne without going wrong.

Champagne Brut : the standard

More than a peculiarity, this way of combining several harvests is a true signature of Champagne, but also a guarantee of regularity, an assurance of a preserved and assumed style. The BSA (Brut Sans Year, let us remember) is the cuvée that begins the range of each house and each winegrower. It is a very important cuvée because it is both the one that defines the style of the house, but also the one that represents the largest volumes. A cuvée which represents the image of a house both in terms of quality and quantity. It is therefore absolutely essential for a producer to put all his know-how in this label. Usually a BSA is made up of 70% wine of the year and 30% reserve wines. Proportions that can change, but reserve wines cannot exceed 40% of the blend. Reserve wines are wines from previous harvests. Some champagne producers have reserve wines dating back to the 1970s ! As Dominique Demarville, cellar master of the Veuve Clicquot house and formerly of the Mumm house, says, having a wide range of reserve wines is essential for a house that wishes to preserve the house style and draw a thread between each harvest and each assembly. crude without year.

The solera

In champagne, there is a separate technique for making a brut without year: the solera. This technique, which is not unique to Champagne, consists of adding the wines of the harvest each year to a blend in progress to replace the wines drawn to develop a cuvée. This is why we also talk about perpetual reserve. So if we take 30% of the solera to make a cuvée, we replace these 30% with the wines from the last harvest. Thus a solera started in 2000 will contain all the wines of each following year. Over the years, the proportion of starting wines is increasingly low.

Vintage Champagne: the exception

Each year, after tasting the clear wines, the wines that have fermented but have not yet been champagnized, the champagne houses and the winemakers decide whether or not they will vintage the year. If the cellar master considers that the year is good enough to produce an exceptional wine, a wine that can defy time and give life to great champagnes, then he will make a cuvée only from this year's wines. A vintage champagne must reflect its year while respecting the house style. However, certain years lend themselves better to certain styles. For example 2002 was a great year for all of Champagne and in particular for Chardonnays. Houses that favor the presence of this grape in their cuvées therefore have more vintages than others. Traditionally in the range of a house we will find a vintage cuvée, sometimes two if there is a vintage rosé then a prestige cuvée which will also be vintage. The vast majority of houses vintage their prestigious vintage. The most famous exception is Le Grand Siècle by Laurent-Perrier, which is not a vintage cuvée.

The old champagnes

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The great years

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The champagne solera

What is a solera in Champagne ? What does this technique consist of and what does it add to the wine ?