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Legend: PA (Potential Alcohol), TA (Total Acidity expressed as sulfuric), MI (Maturity Index: ratio of sugar to acidity)
Source: Union des Maisons de Champagne, other
-Researched & authored by Roger C. Bohmrich MW
- Researched & authored by Roger C. Bohmrich MW
CHAMPAGNE
Vintage
(released to market)
Commentary Appraisal
out of 10
Drinking Advice
Vintages & Prestige Cuvées
1982 Another vintage marrying volume & quality owing to benign conditions: healthy budding & flowering, a hot & dry summer capped by timely precipitation. Yields for Pinot Noir on the Montagne de Reims were particularly elevated. Ripeness averaged 9 PA (8.9 – 12.1), acidities 8 TA (6.2 – 9.1), reflected in uniformly succulent wines. 9.5 1990-2000
1990 An abundant year of quality. Spring frosts, numerous heat spikes, ideal rainfall. Negligible differences among the grape varieties. Sugars were high, comparable to memorable years such as 1982 & 1945, richer than 1976 (8.9 – 12.1 PA). Harmonious acidities (6.2 – 9.1 TA). Complete, well-calibrated wines. 9.5 1998-2003
1996 The best year of the ‘90s, amounting to 273 million bottles. The growing season saw radical swings, starting with a frigid February & gray, frosty March. Flowering started well but was interrupted by a deep chill on 19 June. Summer was alternately clear or overcast, dry or humid. September saw warm, sunny days & cool nights. Musts displayed above average maturity of 10.6 PA (9.7 – 11.6) & atypically high ratio of acidity averaging ~10 TA (8.4 – 12.3). 9.5 2004-2012
1998 Spring was warm & wet. Extended, irregular flowering in cooler weather. Uneven summer: lack of sun in July, episodes of very high temperatures in August. Saved by favorable September. Moderate ripeness (9.5 – 11.3 PA) & acidities (7.1 – 8.7 TA). Chardonnay performed best: elegant, well-defined Blanc de Blancs. 9.1 2008-2014
2002 A very favorable growing season, warm & generally dry. Healthy, mature fruit. Chardonnay & Pinot Noir both succeeded, yielding widely declared vintage Champagnes & superlative prestige cuvées for the cellar. 9.5 2010-2018
2008 Sugars averaged <10 PA, ~ 8.0 TA. Average maturity fell to index of 1990s (20.6 MI). Declared by most growers, some houses. Wines show focus & backbone. A vintage that has gained in reputation due to the precision, elegance of the best examples. 9 2014-2021
2009 Healthy, mature grapes resulting from most elevated temperatures since 2003. Wines with high maturity index (24.3 MI). Average 10.1 PA, ~7.0 TA. Vintage declared by a few, principally growers. Round, accessible wines. 8 2016-2017
2010 Harvest cut back by rain in mid-August which brought on widespread rot. Eliminating affected grapes essential. Elevated sugars for Chardonnay/Pinot Noir of >10 PA, highest acidities for Pinots in 2000s (~8.6 TA). Restricted vintage declarations. 8 2018-2020
2011 An erratic growing season, starting with a spring with heat & without rain. Bountiful harvest, 13,261 kg/ha. Sugar ripeness of ~9.4 PA, average acidities of 7.4 TA. 7.5 2016-2019
2012 April frosts affected 40% of villages. Flowering in cold, sun-less conditions. Extended period without precipitation from mid-July, favorable August. Production (9,208 kg/ha) ~40% below average over 10 years. Highest average sugars for all varieties. Maturity matches 2009’s high level (24.3 MI). Promising Champagnes, all in proportion. 9.5 2018-2025

NOTE:

Commentary: The aim of Vintages is to present reliable data and analysis for a selected range of years. Several recent vintages are presented so that collectors may anticipate those which may not yet be on the market. A selection of older, highly regarded vintages is included to address wines which may currently be in prIvate cellars. The Commentary is intended to be as valuable as the Appraisal, if not more meaningful to those who wish to understand the conditions of the year and the general personality of the resulting wines. A numerical score is by its nature a theoretical average of all wines of any given vintage. There will be wines which conform to that global assessment as well as examples falling short of or surpassing the average.

Drinking Advice: This range of years is merely an estimated average for the vintage. The suitability for drinking will vary for each individual wine and will be influenced by storage and handling conditions as well as bottle variation. Ultimately, whether a wine is ready for drinking, at an ideal stage of maturity, or past its peak will be the judgment of the individual taster.

We will be adding Vintages information for a number of other significant Regions later this month