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Displaying items by tag: Champagne wine


Although the major producers of branded Brut Non-Vintage Champagne are rightly proud of a consistent ‘house’ style, the taste of their blends have changed significantly over time.

Using historical records, and originally-sourced detailed data going back to 1991, this WSG Live will consider how climate, viticulture and winemaking have affected the character of Champagne’s best-known and biggest-selling brands.

Expect to find out how the cellar master and end-consumer have also played their part in shaping how famous Champagnes taste today, as well as the extent of change over a 25-year period, from altered sugar levels to changes in the proportion and age of reserve wines.

The WSG Live will also consider whether Champagne has reached a satisfactory balance today, or whether further change is necessary and likely.

Presenter: Patrick Schmitt MW

Patrick Schmitt is editor-in-chief of the drinks business. He writes for and manages the European and Hong Kong editions of the drinks business, as well as the printed product’s website – the leading international website for beers, wines and spirits.

He also chairs the publication’s annual awards programme, including The Drinks Business Awards for product innovations and environmental initiatives, as well as the magazine’s Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Champagne and Rioja Masters, for which he heads up a tasting panel of wine experts.

Patrick has been shortlisted for two years running for the editor of the year in the business and professional magazine category for the British Society of Magazine Editors (BSME).

Patrick passed both the theory and practical papers of the Master of Wine examination on his first attempt and became a Master of Wine in March 2015. During his Master of Wine studies, he was awarded the Esterhazy and Reh Kendermann bursaries as well as the AXA Millésimes and Yalumba scholarships.

Patrick studied Geography at Oxford University – where he specialised in plant ecology – and later Landscape Architecture at the University of Greenwich. Although he is a qualified garden designer and had initially planned to practise as a landscape architect, a job in a horticultural trade journal took him into a career as a journalist.

Aside from alcoholic drinks and gardening, his interests range from cars to cycling, as well as the archaic sport of real tennis. He lives in south London with his wife Ettie and two children, Beatrice and Ottilie.

Published in Champagne wines


A growing body of scientific evidence shows that what people taste when evaluating a wine, and how much they enjoy the experience, can be influenced by the music that happens to be playing at the same time. Limited research has been published about the effects of music on sparkling wine. Learn about the latest experiment conducted in this field, focusing on classical music and the perception of a Brut non-vintage Champagne.

Feel free to enjoy a glass of champagne, sparkling, or any wine you like as you learn about the findings of this exciting new research!

Presenter: Susan R. Lin

Susan is the Head of Wine Expertise for online fine wine retailer Belmont Wine Exchange in the San Francisco Bay Area, serving customers worldwide. As a consultant, she curates wine collections, designs wine programs, and specializes in wine and spirit music pairings and events. Susan was named Master of Wine in February 2021 upon the passing of her research paper ‘Influences of classical music on the perception of a Brut non-vintage Champagne’. Susan completed the WSET Diploma while working as a program manager in the high-tech industry, during which she lived and travelled extensively in East Asia. 

A lifelong devotee of music, Susan is a classical pianist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Classical Piano Performance and Musicology. She has performed internationally as a Chinese classical and folk dancer. Susan also works with performing arts organizations to grow their audiences through innovative programming and events, integrating wine whenever possible. Her joy is to create memorable experiences through wine and the performing arts.  

Published in Wine Tasting


Rosé champagnes have been around since at least 1764 and today represent a tenth of champagne sales. There is huge variation and some controversy to them. Colors vary from the palest blush to depths approaching red wine tones. Many perceive them as simple quaffing bubbles but some of Champagne’s finest, most age-worthy and prestigious wines are pink. Essi Avellan MW gives us an indepth introduction to the world of rosé champagne covering its history, methods of making as well as prominent house styles.

Presenter: Essi Avellan MW

Champagne and sparkling wine specialist Essi Avellan was Finland’s first Master of Wine. Together with Tom Stevenson she is the author of the Christie’s World Encyclopedia of Champagne and Sparkling Wine. Essi is the organiser of the annual Grand Champagne Helsinki event and a jury member at the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships. She has been knighted as Chevalier l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole by the Minister of Agriculture of France. 

Learn More About Champagne

Published in Champagne wines
Wednesday, 12 December 2018 09:27

Champagne Prestige Cuvees with Tom Hyland


In Champagne, the term prestige cuvée refers to a special selection from a producer that represents a very high quality, in most instances, their finest cuvée.

Some are vintage dated, while some are not, but a signature of each producer that makes a prestige cuvée is the luxury aspect of marketing these products.

Packaged in eye-catching, sometimes stunning bottles, several of these wines, such as Dom Perignon, Roederer Cristal and Perrier-Jouët “Belle Epoque” have become not only some of the most celebrated of all Champagnes, but also products that call to mind the good life that is the promise of Champagne in general.

We will look at the history of prestige cuvées, examine several of the most famous, and also discuss and compare other great, limited-production Champagnes that are not considered prestige cuvées.

Presenter: Tom Hyland

Tom Hyland is a Chicago-based wine writer/educator and photographer, specializing in Italian wines.

He has authored two books on Italian wines, and has conducted seminars for the trade on various Italian wines in Chicago, New York and in Bordeaux at VinExpo.

Tom is also the author of the book "The Essence of Champagne: In the Glass and at the Table"

He has been writing about these wines for 19 years, and today is a contributor to Decanter and He is also the U.S. ambassador for the consorzio, I Vini del Piemonte.

Learn more about French wines:

Published in Champagne wines
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 17:00

Champagne Vintage Charts & Ratings

Back to French Vintage Chart

The vintage chart and harvest reports provided by the Wine Scholar Guild gives you the ranking for every French wine region and vintage from 2000 to today.

Andrew Jefford, award-winning wine journalist for Decanter Magazine and author of twelve books on wine including The New France has compiled information and written the vintage charts starting with the 2013 vintage. He is also updating information for the vintages prior to 2013.

Last updated: Jan. 16, 2023


Vintage Quality Drink Comments
2021 Drink/Cellar After a wet and largely cold winter, February was warm and dry.  March was, in the main, cold -- but turned almost summery, as elsewhere in France, at the end of the month.  Buds burst; then five nights of frost followed in early April (5-9); there was further frost in Champagne between May 3rd and 7th, with the Champagne houses’ organisation estimating that 30% of the harvest was lost due to frost (though losses were higher in the Côte des Bars and the Massif de St Thierry).  Summer was then cold, wet and stormy, with episodes of hail; only the two first weeks of June (during which flowering took place) were sunny and warm. Further losses due to mildew and associated problems gave many growers only a half-crop.  The warmth finally returned in mid-August but the quality of the harvest was rain-, disease- and pest-affected by then; harvest was underway by mid-September.  Overall, yields were the lowest for 35 years.  Quality can be excellent, with vivacious and classical base wines being made from the very best and most carefully manicured sites (especially in the Côte des Blancs), but the overall quality picture is mixed.
2020 Drink/Cellar Winter in Champagne was generally mild and wet, with February 2020 being the wettest month ever recorded in the region.  The spring was then very warm, with budburst being 16 days ahead of the long-term average and this advance continuing until harvest (in August).  Summer was hot and dry, with July also a record-breaker, this time for the hottest month ever recorded in the region.  The heat and consequent drought reduced the size of the potential crop and led to uneven ripening in some areas; yields in any case had been reduced to 8,000 kg/ha due to the drop in demand for Champagne associated with the COVID pandemic.  Growers are very enthusiastic about the quality of the best base wines, though, with Pinot Noir (as in Alsace) looking exceptionally promising this year. 
2019 Drink/Cellar Each new year seems to bring novel weather challenges to Champagne, and 2019 was no exception.  February temperatures as warm as 20°C were disquieting in this northerly region, and set in train powdery mildew challenges for the season.  April frosts (down to -7°C in places) affected 5,000 ha (15 per cent of the growing area); May was then very rainy, which meant that downy mildew was also a big threat by early June.  During June, though, the first of two heatwaves hit Champagne.  This one was helpful, clearing the mildew; the second (at the end of July) was more damaging, with temperatures as high as 43°C causing sunburn and raisining; this meant that the crop required careful sorting.  August and September weather conditions were less challenging, though, and most growers were happy or very happy with the final quality of the (sorted) crop, reporting satisfactory levels of both sugar and acidity, and a general sense of freshness and brightness to the fruit.  Harvest quantities were around 17 per cent down on the general 2018 harvest, and around five per cent below the five-year average.   
2018 Drink/Cellar After the traumas of 2017, 2018 brought smiles back to Champagne, though the season was nonetheless a complicated one. After a wet winter and early spring, April turned very warm and budburst was early. Hail in May and early June followed by mildew was responsible for a minority of growers losing up to 40 per cent of their crop, but in general flowering passed off well, and summer was then the second warmest ever recorded (after 2003), setting up both an early and a generous harvest, one well able to replenish the shortfalls of 2017. Sugar levels were unusually high. The region as a whole recorded an average natural alcohol of over 10%, though some houses asked growers to pick at no more than 9.5%. Anxiety about correspondingly low acidity levels (7-7.5 g/l expressed as tartaric) dissipated when it emerged that it was chiefly malic acid, not tartaric acid, that was lower this year, leaving total acidities unaffected for those houses putting their base wines through malo. The crop has been acclaimed ‘vintage of the century’ (though less than a fifth of the century has elapsed) -- but even cautious insiders found it hard to contain their optimism about a vintage which (for example) suggested to Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon of Louis Roederer a theoretical combination of 1959 and 1947.
2017 Drink/Cellar Champagne’s 2017 season was a chaotic series of extreme events: the perfect illustration of climate scientists’ global warming predictions. A cold winter was followed by a very warm early spring, leading to dangerously early budburst. Severe frosts in the third week of April then eliminated between 20% and 70% of the potential crop, depending on sub-region (the Côte des Bars was worst affected). After that, the weather was exceptionally hot and sunny up to the end of July, breaking many of the region’s heat records. Storms and hail then caused further losses at the beginning of August, and harvest eventually got underway in late August, though the official date was September 4th (which many, with hindsight, considered too late). It was interrupted by heavy rain, and botrytis outbreaks meant that the grapes had to be carefully sorted. The quality of some Chardonnays was fair to good, but 2017 produced poor quality Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, and the paucity of grapes means that Champagne houses risk running down their reserves at a time of record sales.
2016 Drink/Cellar A difficult year for Champagne got underway with a mild winter followed by a cool early spring.  Snow, then frost struck the region on April 27th-28th, followed by two very wet months which caused unprecendented mildew-related losses.  Late July and August, by contrast, were hot enough to cause some problems of sun-burn, with very uneven Chardonnay results in particular.  Overall quantities are down by around 33 per cent, and quality is variable, too, with some softness evident in the balance of Chardonnay-dominated wines.
2015 Drink/Cellar After a cold, wet winter and very mixed weather in April, it became sunny, warm and dry in May and stayed that way through a largely hot July and mid-August.  The end of August was cooler and wetter, but skies cleared in September and most of the harvest was picked in perfect conditions in the first part of the month. A little rain fell during the picking of the last parcels.  Despite relatively low acid levels (2015 is the lowest acid year since 2003), most felt that the wines of this preponderantly warm, dry year were finely balanced, structured, fresh, concentrated and meant for long ageing. However the 2015 vintage wines are ageing more variably than expected.
2014 Drink Spring was mild and warm, leading to a generous fruit set (after two short vintages in 2012 and 2013).  July, by contrast, was cool and wet and this indifferent weather lingered into August finally clearing by the end of the month for a fine, harvest-saving September.  There was an ample crop of irregular wines with very good results for Chardonnay and Montagne de Reims Pinot, but sometimes dilute results in the Marne Valley (which had twice its normal growing-season rainfall).
2013 Drink/Cellar A long winter and cool spring meant that the Chardonnay didn’t flower until mid-June and the two Pinots in mid-July: a very late date, and potentially disastrous.  There was hail damage in the Marne at the end of July.  Overall, though, July and August were record-breakingly hot and sunny, saving the vintage and meaning that the early September rain was welcome.  Good conditions then resumed for an October harvest of tense and acidic but good quality fruit, ideal for ageing.  A vintage year for most.
2012 Drink/Cellar Widespread frosts in April touched 131 villages (of 319). Very cold, sunless weather for flowering. Long rainless period from mid-July to September. Total yield: 9,208 kg/ha, lowest volume since 2003, ~40% below 10-year average. Highest average sugars across all varieties. Overall maturity equals 2009. A vintage year is anticipated.
2011 Drink/Past Peak Hot, dry spring. Exceptionally large harvest, 13,261 kg/ha. Average sugar ripeness & acidities.
2010 Drink Rains mid-August provoked widespread rot reducing crop substantially. High sugars for Chardonnay/Pinot Noir, highest acidities for Pinots in decade of 2000s. Limited vintage declarations.
2009 Drink Warmest conditions since 2003, optimal maturity, healthy fruit. Balanced wines with average sugars, lower acidities. High overall maturity. Vintage year for some, principally récoltants-manipulants (individual growers). In ’09, new EU rules reduced dosage for Brut to 12 g/l.
2008 Drink/Cellar Difficult, damp, mildew-affected season was saved by a dry August and a fine, dry, sunny but cool September.  The harvest was large, but its classical balance meant an outstanding range of vintage wines.
2007 Drink/Past peak Chardonnay performed best. Summer hail. Lowest fruit maturity of the 2000s. Non-vintage year for many négociants-manipulants (houses), typically declared by récoltants-manipulants (individual growers).
2006 Drink/Past peak Cold winter, hot & dry summer. Abundant year, heterogeneous ripening. Above average pH & sugars, average acidity. High overall maturity, in line with ’09 & ’12. Numerous vintage declarations by many producers.
2005 Drink More difficult season than many French regions in ’05. Successful Chardonnay, weak Pinot Meunier. Good sugar levels, below average acidities.  Vintage declaration by many négociants-manipulants (houses) & récoltants-manipulants (growers).
2004 Drink Harvest delivered record volume & sound quality. Chardonnay, Meunier were best. Balanced, well-structured Champagnes some compare to ’98.
2003 Drink/Past peak Atypically hot summer. Earliest harvest since 1822, abnormally low yields of 8,254 kg/ha. Richness & elevated alcohol levels. Numerous vintage declarations. Some examples are missing sufficient backbone.
2002 Drink Both Chardonnay & Pinot Noir ripened well. Balanced Champagnes, a declared vintage by producers of all types. Superb prestige Champagnes, many will benefit from further cellaring.
2001 Past peak Cold, wet September. Lacked maturity: low sugars & elevated acidity. Not a vintage year except for some récoltants-manipulants (individual growers).
2000 Drink/Past peak Difficult summer marked by rain, widespread hail. Favorable September weather for harvest. Widely declared “millennium” vintage… some fine examples, 0thers are soft, lack intensity & should be drunk (now).



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Chart Legend

These vintage notes have been prepared by Andrew Jefford, Academic Advisor to the Wine Scholar Guild. New vintage information, and any revisions of previous vintage drinking suggestions, are made each autumn.  Use the chart as a guide only; in every vintage there will be outperforming and underperforming wines.


Back to French Vintage Chart

Published in Vintage Charts

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