On the Trail

CHAMPAGNE VINTAGE GUIDE

Click on each vintage to see what we currently have in stock on our main website:

A Special Note Regarding Champagne Vintages: It is important to note when evaluating Champagne vintages that, Champagne, perhaps more than any other wine producing region is notoriously difficult to capture in a simple summary. The reasons for this are many, but the most significant of which being that the wines of Champagne are, by design, highly manipulated. The host of winemaking tactics employed by the Champenois are myriad and diverse influencing all levels of the process from chaptalization, to fermentation, to aging. This coupled with the natural diversity of region makes it nearly impossible to assign broad generalizations to any vintage. As a rule, it is always best to look to the individual producer when making decisions as to whether to buy and how deeply. All that being said, meteorological and climatic factors do have an unassailable influence on any agricultural product and as such can provide a general tenor for a particular vintage. We recommend you use this guide with this caveat in mind.

  • 2010 - A vintage not without its challenges. First the absence of rain and then an overabundance, but thankfully nestled between were warm months which allowed for good, even ripening. Producers had to be particularly attentive to sorting, but those who did were able to craft wines of impressive power and resonance. Modest levels of acidity has made the 2010 very accessible in their youth, but there remains solid potential for aging. 2010 has proven to be a fine successor to the delightful 2008s and 2009s.

 

  • 2009 - Follows admirably the brilliant 2008 vintage. After a bit of a challenging start with cold temperatures and minimal rain the rest of the year enjoyed a good, consistent growing season. No rain during an harvest cemented the quality of the wines which show great elegance, poise and balanced acidity. In terms of profile the wines are very similar to the 2008s, while coming from very different growing conditions. Unlike the 2008s, they are more accessible in the near term with many of the wines drinking beautifully upon release. A wide range of vintage declared options to choose from.

 

  • 2008 - A highly regarded vintage that has drawn comparisons the successes of the widely loved 2002s and 1996s. A cold start to the year was later greeted by a warm Spring, and then onto a cool and tad overcast Summer. Nonetheless, the health of the grapes was exceptional come harvest in September. The resulting wines are notable for their depth of concentration and bracing acidity. Many producers have opted for extended aging, allowing the wines to further coalesce and mellow before release. The 2008s will be exceptionally long lived offering years of enjoyment. A declared vintage for many producers.

 

  • 2007 - What started out as a promising vintage proved rather vexing given early flowering and excessive rains over the summer. The harvest was of significant volume, but the overall quality wasn’t at its highest levels. The Chardonnay crop fared better than Pinot Noir with racy acidity being the common denominator. Mostly a blending vintage, but there are a number of vintage bottlings out there that are worthy of attention.

 

  • 2006 - A mild Spring led into a warm summer which brought about flowering in June. Late Summer caused a bit of a stir among growers as heavy rains were of concern. Come harvest however the crop was nothing short of stunning. Good balance was struck among ripeness, acidity, and alcohol making wines of impeccable composure. While producers were hesitant to declare 2006 at the outset, many have done so after assessing the high quality of the vin clair. Overall the wines how excellent concentration and finesse and will offering terrific drinking in the near term. The top cuvees will be very age-worthy.

 

  • 2005 - A largely even-keeled vintage from Spring to harvest with a modest heat spike in August. An especially good harvest for Pinot Noir revealed wines of impressive depth and complexity. An excellent year for blending as well a number of terrific vintage bottlings from the majority of producers. A great vintage to enjoy in the near-term, but go ahead and cellar the top cuvees for a decade or more.

 

  • 2004 - A superlative year in all regards with a bumper crop and exceptional quality abounding.  Low rainfall and coming on the heels of a drought year actually meant ripening was promoted while the threat of fungal infection was reduced. Ideal ripening conditions in August through the harvest resulted in wines great concentration and balanced acidity. A declared vintage for a large swath of producers, which many producing high rated wines that proved to be darlings of the critics. Definitely a favorite among Champagne collectors as the 2004s have great aging potential, but are equally delightful in the near term.

 

  • 2003 - As with much of the rest of France, the Champagne vintage was significantly hampered by an intense heatwave. Production levels were well below normal both due to cold in the early part of the season and the heat which arrived in the summer months. Despite these significant challenges top producers were able to craft superlative bottlings that defied the odds. A vintage to choose carefully, but there are treasures to be found. Broad and with modest acidity - these are ideal wines for those who love ripe and lush style. Good for mid-term cellaring.

 

  • 2002 - There is simply no other way to put it - 2002 was a glorious vintage. Comparable to such legendary years as 1988, 1989 and 1990 - the 2002s are the kind of Champagne that the critics and collectors clamor for. From Spring, to Summer, to harvest conditions were either perfect or near perfect with grapes showing excellent maturity and development. Perhaps most akin to the legendary 1990 they are rich and expressive wines that will continue to develop of many years to come. Success was enjoyed across the region making it one in which you can buy with confidence.

 

  • 2001 - A blighted vintage rife with challenges that culminated in a soggy harvest. Scant vintage bottlings were produced, which, in the end, is probably for the best. On the plus side, there are some great values to be had, but drink them up soon as longevity won’t be their strong suit.

 

  • 2000 - Things started out a tad spotty in 2000, but once the summer months rolled around everything came on line beautifully. While often overshadowed by the sensational 2002s, the 2000 bottlings can certainly hold their own. While the variance among producers was dramatic, even by Champagne’s standards, the best cuvees are known for a hedonistic display of ripe fruit and fleshy tones. For fans of round, well-endowed wines, 2000 offers ample options, but be prepared to pay a premium as the “Millennium” designation still holds cache.

 

Click here to return to the vintage guide index