NV vs Vintage Champagne

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Jan Janas
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NV vs Vintage Champagne

#1 Post by Jan Janas » June 30th, 2020, 2:48 am

I was looking a bit more into vintage Champagnes and I was wondering how the pricing works relative to quality in this category. Outside of the usual suspects - Cristal, Dom Perignon, and Comtes de Champagne - there are many other vintage bottlings that are just slightly more expensive than many NVs. In my local market NV Champagne is usually in the A$70,00 ballpark. A quick search on a local store shows me:

2012 Bauchet Memoire A$70,00
2010 Henriet-Bazin Carte D'or A$70,00
2009 Marguet GC Vintage A$90,00 (!)
2012 Louis Roederer Vintage A$110,00
2013 Louis Roederer Rose A$120,00
2012 Pol Roger Vintage A$140,00

In short, there is a mid-budget market for vintage Champagnes I was wondering how these wines are and if they constitute good value or not. Some of these are priced like NVs so I wonder if vintage Champagne is something I should consider higher-end or is a game I can play at the mid-tier too. Looking forward to your replies!

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Troy Stark
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Re: NV vs Vintage Champagne

#2 Post by Troy Stark » June 30th, 2020, 5:55 am

I think you can find fantastic value in vintage Champagne, especially in good recent vintages (08, 12, 14, now 18). In the US, we even see good quality vintage stuff in the $40-50 USD range.

Most of the members of the Special Club are safe bets and release vintage wines in the $50-100 USD price range. To me, these wines are great for exploring the various terriors of Champagne (most smaller growers are not sourcing from all over the region) and they give you a really strong impression of the vintage in question.

Whether you will like these better than similarly priced NV wines depends on quite a number of factors; house style, quality of the winemaking, etc. Some NV wines hit well above their price point due to the depth of the reserve wines to which the house has access and the blending talent of their chef du cave. NV should be a consistent product, year over year, whereas vintage is going to give you a more definitive statement about the sites and the vintage. They're similar products, being from Champagne, but also quite different.
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Otto Forsberg
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Re: NV vs Vintage Champagne

#3 Post by Otto Forsberg » June 30th, 2020, 6:52 am

That Marguet seems like a good purchase for soon-ish consumption and the Roederer Vintage 2012 is a good effort for a Grande Marque to be cellared for some years more.

When it comes to Vintage Champs, I'd be very wary with 2010s and pass all 2011s - unless you really know what you are buying. 2010 was a sub-average vintage for most parts of Champagne and 2011 was pretty much a disaster.

Like Troy said, '08, '12 and '14 are great. I'd also include '13 for Blancs des Blancs, but less so for the Shampoos based on red varieties.

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Marshall Manning
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Re: NV vs Vintage Champagne

#4 Post by Marshall Manning » June 30th, 2020, 9:15 am

I haven't tried the '09 Marguet, but the '08 is delicious, and still quite young. I'd imagine that the '09 might be more forward based on the vintage, but still probably worth the effort to try. If you love it, buy more.
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Marcu$ Stanley
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Re: NV vs Vintage Champagne

#5 Post by Marcu$ Stanley » June 30th, 2020, 11:22 am

Do people think that vintage champagnes are really that much better than NV, or just different in reflecting the vintage? There is a huge price premium

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IlkkaL
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Re: NV vs Vintage Champagne

#6 Post by IlkkaL » June 30th, 2020, 11:47 am

Marcu$ Stanley wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 11:22 am
Do people think that vintage champagnes are really that much better than NV, or just different in reflecting the vintage? There is a huge price premium
It is impossible to generalize but I think when it comes to high quality growers the step up in terms of complexity and depth is usually huge when one compares the entry level NV and vintage cuvées. Of course vintage variation is a real thing and just like Otto I avoid vintages like 2010 and 2011 unless I have a really good reason to believe that the producer has overcome either vintage’s challenges.
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Re: NV vs Vintage Champagne

#7 Post by Mich@el Ch@ng » June 30th, 2020, 12:24 pm

For Krug, I generally don’t find vintage worth the premium. Most nv blends from other producers aren’t necessarily high quality, though, with some notable exceptions.

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William Kelley
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Re: NV vs Vintage Champagne

#8 Post by William Kelley » June 30th, 2020, 5:14 pm

Troy Stark wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 5:55 am
I think you can find fantastic value in vintage Champagne, especially in good recent vintages (08, 12, 14, now 18). In the US, we even see good quality vintage stuff in the $40-50 USD range.
Don't forget 2013 here! Honestly, I like 2013 more than 2014 overall. And the incisive, racy style of 2013 has made it a great base vintage for very classically balanced NV blends. A lot of 2014- and, a fortiori, 2015-based blends seem a little flat and ponderous by comparison. My sense is that these warmer vintages in Champagne are really exposing the differences in quality of farming between producers...
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Frank Murray III
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Re: NV vs Vintage Champagne

#9 Post by Frank Murray III » June 30th, 2020, 5:45 pm

Jan, I wish some of the Out of Stock wines they list we're available, as you could get some additional stuff that I would be recommending.

In terms of NV versus vintage, you have to know the producer to assess whether the differentiation is worth the cost. For some producers, say Vouette et Sorbee (which if you can afford Nick's pricing is worth trying...they are a favorite of mine), they don't vintage designate so you end up with what might seem like NV but in reality the wines may have a significant portion of a single vintage used but it is labeled without a vintage declaration.

And, similarly to Vouette et Sorbee, if you can afford the Ulysse Collin wines, those might thrill you too. A recent bottle of his Pierrieres nearly twisted my head off it was so extraordinary.
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Re: NV vs Vintage Champagne

#10 Post by Michael S. Monie » June 30th, 2020, 6:11 pm

From a few years ago: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=135948
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lleichtman
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Re: NV vs Vintage Champagne

#11 Post by lleichtman » June 30th, 2020, 6:48 pm

We drink quite a bit of Vintage and NV champagne. I find that grower champagnes for me don't make a lot of difference enough to justify the increased cost. The house champagnes however do make a bigger difference for me from Vintage to NV but then, also expensive.
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Brad Baker
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Re: NV vs Vintage Champagne

#12 Post by Brad Baker » June 30th, 2020, 7:41 pm

I'm not so sure I would classify 2014 as a truly worthy vintage year. It is fine for NV material (as is 2016), but not really more than that. I would put it on par quality-wise (not character-wise) with probably a 2007. The years from the last 20 years to look for are 2002, 2003 (as long as it wasn't released too young), 2004, 2006 (bigger wines, but also fun to drink in the short to medium term), 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013 (especially for Cote des Blancs Chardonnay wines), 2015 (young, it can come across as savory or slightly herbal, but it isn't green or under-ripe; I believe there is a unique expression and potential to this year), 2018, and 2019.
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Robert Sand
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Re: NV vs Vintage Champagne

#13 Post by Robert Sand » July 1st, 2020, 5:51 am

Marcu$ Stanley wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 11:22 am
Do people think that vintage champagnes are really that much better than NV, or just different in reflecting the vintage? There is a huge price premium
Very generally:
NV Champagne usually reflects the style of the house/producer,
vintage Champagne reflects the vintage characteristics, which is an advantage when the vintage is very good (like 08, 12, --).
When it´s less good (10, 11, --) the NV might be the better choice, especially when juice from great vintages is in the blend.

Moreover big houses have the advantage of huge amounts of reserve wines that can be used to balance the blend, for instance when Chardonnay or the red grapes were more successful, while small growers have to rely on what they have in their vineyards.
Small producers often show more character, be it positive or negative.

If you just want to open something good for a meal a NV from a good house is not a bad choice -
but for an intellectual experience a grower Champagne is often much more rewarding and interesting.
Here in Germany or in France you can find good grower Champagne starting at app. 30 € (NV) and 45 € (vintage), but the famous names are often at 100+ €.

IMHO all good Champagnes are better with some years of bottle age.

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Jan Janas
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Re: NV vs Vintage Champagne

#14 Post by Jan Janas » July 1st, 2020, 11:25 pm

Thanks everyone for chiming in. It really helped me get a better grasp of NV vs VN Shampoos.
Otto Forsberg wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 6:52 am
That Marguet seems like a good purchase for soon-ish consumption and the Roederer Vintage 2012 is a good effort for a Grande Marque to be cellared for some years more.

When it comes to Vintage Champs, I'd be very wary with 2010s and pass all 2011s - unless you really know what you are buying. 2010 was a sub-average vintage for most parts of Champagne and 2011 was pretty much a disaster.

Like Troy said, '08, '12 and '14 are great. I'd also include '13 for Blancs des Blancs, but less so for the Shampoos based on red varieties.
Thanks, Otto, it seems like what you say here is reflected by many others' opinions. I will steal 'Shampoos' from you, hope you don't mind [wink.gif]

Marshall Manning wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 9:15 am
I haven't tried the '09 Marguet, but the '08 is delicious, and still quite young. I'd imagine that the '09 might be more forward based on the vintage, but still probably worth the effort to try. If you love it, buy more.
Marshall, I have my eyes set on the 2009 - I will rewatch the zoom with Marguet first to study the producer a bit more.

Frank Murray III wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 5:45 pm
Jan, I wish some of the Out of Stock wines they list we're available, as you could get some additional stuff that I would be recommending.

In terms of NV versus vintage, you have to know the producer to assess whether the differentiation is worth the cost. For some producers, say Vouette et Sorbee (which if you can afford Nick's pricing is worth trying...they are a favorite of mine), they don't vintage designate so you end up with what might seem like NV but in reality the wines may have a significant portion of a single vintage used but it is labeled without a vintage declaration.

And, similarly to Vouette et Sorbee, if you can afford the Ulysse Collin wines, those might thrill you too. A recent bottle of his Pierrieres nearly twisted my head off it was so extraordinary.
Thanks, Frank. Vouette et Sorbee is quite heavily marked-up here in Australia for some reason. I might have to get lucky and snatch something from the secondary market to get a decent price. Ulysse Colin has quite a few wines in the range, does anything stand out or I'm safe picking blind?

Michael S. Monie wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 6:11 pm
From a few years ago: "viewtopic.php?f=1&t=135948"
Great hint, Michael. I checked that post out and it does have lots of information that answered some lingering questions I had!

Brad Baker wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 7:41 pm
I'm not so sure I would classify 2014 as a truly worthy vintage year. It is fine for NV material (as is 2016), but not really more than that. I would put it on par quality-wise (not character-wise) with probably a 2007. The years from the last 20 years to look for are 2002, 2003 (as long as it wasn't released too young), 2004, 2006 (bigger wines, but also fun to drink in the short to medium term), 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013 (especially for Cote des Blancs Chardonnay wines), 2015 (young, it can come across as savory or slightly herbal, but it isn't green or under-ripe; I believe there is a unique expression and potential to this year), 2018, and 2019.
Thanks, Brad, I will keep your vintage review in mind.

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Otto Forsberg
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Re: NV vs Vintage Champagne

#15 Post by Otto Forsberg » July 1st, 2020, 11:46 pm

Jan Janas wrote:
July 1st, 2020, 11:25 pm
Otto Forsberg wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 6:52 am
That Marguet seems like a good purchase for soon-ish consumption and the Roederer Vintage 2012 is a good effort for a Grande Marque to be cellared for some years more.

When it comes to Vintage Champs, I'd be very wary with 2010s and pass all 2011s - unless you really know what you are buying. 2010 was a sub-average vintage for most parts of Champagne and 2011 was pretty much a disaster.

Like Troy said, '08, '12 and '14 are great. I'd also include '13 for Blancs des Blancs, but less so for the Shampoos based on red varieties.
Thanks, Otto, it seems like what you say here is reflected by many others' opinions. I will steal 'Shampoos' from you, hope you don't mind [wink.gif]
Not at all, I've stolen it myself from a wine geek friend of mine who knows not to take serious wines too seriously. :D

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