Vintage VS Non Vintage Champagne
You may or may know it, but most Champagne is non-vintage, or multi-vintage might be a better term. So WHY do Champagne producers make non-vintage wines?
For starters, in Champagne, the weather can be, rather unpredictable. Champagne is a cool growing region and in many years the grapes struggle to reach optimal ripeness. Additionally, most recently the region has been plagued by unusually extreme weather in the form of frost, hail, and unusually strong thunderstorms that have reduced yields, partially accounting for the shortages and prices increases that we've been experiencing lately.
Maintaining stocks of wine from particularly good years or more bountiful years, allows producers to have a more reliable amount of wine to put to market. Also, always having a range of wines in the cellar to blend from allows producers to create a house style that is consistent from year too.
As you might guess, a vintage Champagne which must contain 100% of the stated vintage. Additionally, it must be aged at least three years, with one of those years on the lees, although in reality, many vintage Champagnes will spend much longer on the lees, but even if they don’t, the extra time aging after the lees are disgorged will encourage the Maillard reaction. That is the interaction between the dosage sugars and the amino acids in the wine, increasing the roasty and toasty deliciousness. With this aging, you begin to get more intensely broiled nutty and creamy notes. A bit of oxidation will also come into play as well, so expect flavors of roasted rather than fresh fruit that will begin to manifest.
Vintage Champagnes are only made in good vintages, and in great vintages Champagne houses will produce a tete cuvee or head cuvee that is their best wine. Dom Perignon is the most well known example of at tete cuvee and is the one from Moet & Chandon.