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Types of Champagne

Find Out About The Different Types of Champagne

Have you ever been to the supermarket and looked down the alcohol isle at the champagne and ever been confused when reading the labels; non-vintage, vintage, Grand Cru, Premier Cru? What do they all actually mean? Hopefully, after you have read this article on Types of Champagne you will be wiser!

You may have come across brands of Moet et Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Dom Perigon and seen the phrases Non Vintage or Vintage somewhere on the label. If you have (because they are really common), but aren’t 100% sure what they mean, then check out the easy to understand (hopefully!) definitions below:

Non Vintage Champagne – A Non Vintage Champagne, sometimes condensed to (NV) is simply a blend of wines from a few different vintages, which are combined together in the best possible way to bring out the best characteristics of each of the individual wines. The main reason for the creation of non-vintage champagne, is so that champagne makers can still create good quality champagnes, even in years where the harvest isn’t brilliant. You might also notice that in comparison to Vintage Champagne (which we shall come onto in a second, NV Champagne might be cheaper due to the blending.)

Vintage ChampagneVintage Champagne is produced from at least 85% of grapes harvested in one year, which is why you might see a year written on a champagne label or bottle, i.e. 2002 or 2009 for example. Vintage champagne, such as Dom Perignon Champagne can generally be kept for longer than Non-Vintage Champagne.

You may also have come across other types of champagne with the words: Premier Cru or Grand Cru written on the bottle. These champagnes are rated on a scale, known as the Echelle des Crus, which is translated as the Ladder of Growth, as a percentage based on the following factors:

a) The position of the vineyard in relationship to the sun.
b) The angle of the slope.
c) The soil structure.
d) Minerals within the soil.
e) The drainage of the soil.

Vineyards that conform in the best possible way to the factors above are classified as Grand Cru, as they are rated 100%. Premier Cru champagne are classified as so, because they rate between 90% to 99% based on the scale.

Premier Cru Champagne

Vineyards or champagne houses with the highest rating of 100% are therefore classed as Grand Cru, which provide better quality juice than Premier Cru grapes. As with all champagne, it is possible to buy Premier Cru champagne in Magnum sized bottles or 1.5 litre bottles, which are basically 2x75cl bottles for example Autreau Premier Cru Magnum Champagne

Grand Cru Champagne

There were initially only 12 areas suitable for being classed as Grand Cru when the Echelle des Crus came into being. This number has over time increased to 17 areas, however, these 17 areas only make up 9% of the Champagne region. For this reason, Grand Cru champagne, such as the Autreau Grand Cru Champagne 2005 Vintage commands a higher price, which is reflected in the price of the final champagne.

In summary, vineyards with a Grand Cru classification will have better quality grapes than vines and grapes found in Premier Cru vineyards, or any other vineyards in the champagne region for that matter. However, not all champagne makers mark their champagnes with Premier Cru or Grand Cru for one reason or another, such as Dom Perignon and Cristal champagne. Now, there is still one more type of champagne that we would like to discuss: Prestige Cuvée Champagne.

Prestige Cuvée Champagne

Prestige Cuvée Champagne is the best champagne a champagne house produces, because it contains the best grapes from the vineyards. One of the most famous examples of Prestige Cuvée champagne is Louis Roederer’s Cristal Champagne. Louis Roederer has been producing Cristal since 1876; when only the Tsar in Russia had buying power. Louis Roederer was only made publicly available for purchase in 1945. Many champagne houses have a Prestige Cuvée Champagne to offer their customers as a luxury and exceptional quality of champagne from their champagne house and it retails at a higher retailing price.

We hope you now know the difference between Non Vintage and Vintage Champagne, as well as Grand Cru, Premier Cru and Prestige Cuvée as Types of Champagne.
Date posted: 16/09/2011

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