The vintage, a reward for an outstanding year, is a matter of quality, quantity and the health of the grapes.
But the decision whether or not to make a vintage champagne is not one to be taken lightly.
The vintage is to Champagne what Camembert is to Normandy…, a source of great pride but also the reflection of a savoir-faire that must be constantly nurtured.
Nature has been very generous in the Champagne region over the last 40 years, gifting us vintages such as 1979, 1989 and 1998, and very prolific in the 2000s (2002, 2004, 2008, 2012), but the time has now come for caution.
With a trio of potential vintages in the last three years, after a pandemic that forced a reduction in yields, the Champagne region continues to possess its own special aura with the resumption of exports and a climate conducive to the consumption of a beverage that people continue to hold in very high esteem.
As for the decision whether or not to produce a vintage champagne, well, it all depends… although some years are universally agreed to be vintage years, other less obvious ones can also be highlighted. It’s all a question of feeling, of certain blends being more likely to benefit from a judicious ageing process. The savoir-faire of the cellar managers for the vinification and of the vineyard team for the winegrowing work can also have a bearing on the decision.
There then follows a dialogue with the wine, with the first tastings of the base wines and the long months of ageing.
The making of a vintage champagne is an important decision in the life of a Champagne House, independent producer or cooperative. A vintage champagne is a testimony to the mastery of the winemaking art and the future enjoyment potential of the champagne in question.
Reflecting a production, certainly of some size, but relatively small compared to the sales of the NV (non-vintage) Brut champagnes, the vintages make up 1/3 of the sales in the Champagne region.
The vintage is the mirror of the Champagne region, the result of a rare and collective effort that leaves no room for hesitation.
In 2022, it was the 20th anniversary of an exceptional vintage, one of the greatest, the 2002. To mark this event, we launched our “Orpale” cuvée with zero dosage for the very first time and presented it in a special gift box.
This “grande cuvée” is composed entirely of Chardonnay from four classified “Grand Cru” villages in the Côte des Blancs, namely Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger, Avize and Cramant.
“2002 is a sunny, unusual year. The vintage must express itself in its purest state as a Brut Nature”.
Cédric Jacopin, Cellar Master