There are so many hidden facts about Champagne which hardly ever make it to the surface. I will try and tell you as much as it is possible to digest but if you want the full story the details are all going to be in 'the book'.
It is hard to start with Champagne. The allure is just immense. When you think about it, you actually wonder why is it so?
I want to start with the most affordable Champagnes. Not the legendary tipples such as Dom Perignon, Cristal or Belle Epoque. But the bog standard (not sure I have ever had Champagne while in a bog) non vintage technically, and legally referred to NV.
NV is the most affordable, the accessible which makes it the perfect mode of expressing the style. A non vintage for any house not only requires a far amount of grapes to produce it but it is the vehicle of the expertise of the wine maker and the house style. The wines in themselves have various characteristics and this where the house needs to know how to blend them in order to achieve a consistent style. From these blends all other production develops. The vintages are inherently variable because no year is ever the same, but the NV has to be the same regardless of the year.
Every year produces differing quality of grapes and it is not uncommon that some vintage, while being abundant in grapes, the quality is inadequate. Legally speaking it is a requirement that certain amount of wine is stored as reserves. These wines are then used in NV to achieve the desired style, however, this increases the variable of error and diversity of individual blends.
So in the end it is often any houses greatest mission and pride of judgement to produce consistently high quality Champagnes and many house do want to be judged on NV.