Style is one of those words you are not supposed use when you write about wine because it means different things to different people.
But like it or not, champagne has style and if you taste enough, or simply pay attention to what comes your way over the years, you too will come to recognize that indeed the Pol Roger is different from the Veuve Clicquot and both are different than the Roederer.
The subtle nuances that contrast the light and the ethereal against the heavier, richer offerings, or the toasted/biscuity style versus the fruity, citrus offerings are the basis of every champagne producer’s “house” style.
This month, just in time for the holiday season, we look at the broad category of champagne once widely referred to as non-vintage now more aptly described for what it is: multi-vintage. These NV or MV wines are blended from different vintages, often from scores of vineyards, and may contain many years of older reserve wine.
It’s the flexibility to add older wines and draw from a diverse range of vineyards that allows each champagne house to reproduce a consistent taste and house style year in and year out, not unlike a fine cognac or blended whisky. While most of us buy champagne when we need it, sometimes aging the wine in your own cellar is useful to apply a final dose of complexity. In the case of multi-vintage champagne, aging is not normally considered, though for the bigger wines such as Bollinger Grand Année or Veuve Clicquot or Krug Grand Cuvée, another year or two or three in the cellar can reap rewards.
Here’s a tip: when you purchase MV champagne, use a felt marker to record the purchase date right on the label. That way the next time you’re in the cellar looking for a bottle of bubbly you can be sure your guests will get the most aged bottled every time. What follows is a quick look at some of our favourite, multi-vintage champagnes ready to cheers with over the holidays.