Wednesday, 18 December 2013


No, there are no specific dogs in vintages. But I have to continue on my previous entry. I have addressed the issue with vintages before, albeit briefly, yet with a keen eye one could gage my point. So to clarify. For anyone who does not drink Champagne at leat twice a week, and even if the one does drink it as often, unless one choses to drink different vintage and different style of wine on every occasion, the likelyhood of experiencing the very fine differences in harvests and in house styles is very slim. Whilst the differences in house style are best manifest in the non vintage wine, harvest specific are always emphasised while the houses style is used a method of production rather than, the wine being the vehicle of it at the cost of the uniques of the specific vintage. It goes without saying that some specific harverst suit some houses more and some less. Naturally! Unlike with house styles, which cannot be characterised by a digit, vintages do have a technical parameters which determine its quality. In theory, and mostly in practice, weather influcences the two key indicators of quality of grapes. Those are sugar and acidity content. The more they are 'close together', in value, the better the vintage; classic example is 1990 where they are all around the value 10mmol (don't quote me on the value, I am not 100% sure, but I know I am quite right about that). The closest vintage to 1990, in technical terms, was 1996. The likelyhood of anyone having the chance to taste those vintages is very slim. But, 2002 is showing a good balance, and 2004 is great structure, quite similar to 1995 (1995 was ethereal to differentiate, whereas 2004 is just big and structured - this however, is very difficult to say now, as the commercial release of both the vintages was different and both wines had very different exposure to leas. I personally think that 95 was amazing when released earlier, and I wish I had had the opportunity to taste 2004 that had the same lees expose; but I am too late. It is crucial to realise that, as demonstrated on these two vintages, the commercial factors were different. Just for a brief ilustration, the 95 was released shortly after 2000 celebration and the demand for champagne in those years was massive and ever increasing. I have addressed the benefits of global recession before but here, speculatively, is what I suspect to be the case when we look at 2004 vintage and the need to keep it on lees longer. Since there was reduced demand for Champagne, the houses kept the vintages on lees longer not to reduce the price of Champagne, and in theory, when on lees, it is believed that the wines remain younger. But the exposure to dead yeast cells has an effect on the wine. The only real hope to get closer to the desired assessment is get a magnum but then, I have not seen 2004 in a magnum yet!). At any rate, the massive desire of catagorisation of vintages is just a unfair as is the catagorisation of Champagne houses. One historical anomally of Champagne vintages is that no year ending with the number 1 has ever produced a decent wine. 01/91/81/71 etc are regarded as dismal years, but to point out the variations in house styles (mostly the source of available grapes), Krug released historical anomally and that was 1981 vintage. So how a layman learna about champagne vintages and make his/hers own opinion about each harvest and its manifestations in wine? DRINK DRINK DRINK DRINK! drink often! This does not mean that the drinker should drink the same! Diversify! :) And yes drinking responsibly is vital! I disagree with just tasting! Yes if you manage to get a group of friends together and one knows more about Champagne than most you are likely to get something interesting out of it, but nothing beats your own desire to learn and drink. One bottle per person if you want to enjoy it, for half a bottle is never enough! That is like getting half an orgasm! :) Still the more you drink the more comfortable you will become, and if you are critical, it is perfectly fine to disagree with what others believe to be the best/vintage, champange!!! Merry Christmas. Peter

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