2018 Champagne Vintage Buying Strategy/Discussion

Thought this might deserve it’s own thread as I searched and didn’t find anything precisely on-point. As discussed in another recent thread, with the current increases/inflation affecting Champagne pricing, I’d like to collect some thoughts and TNs from other folks on their experience with the 2018 vintage and what they are trying/buying.

We were in Champagne in early 2019 and all of the growers uniformly declared 2018 an outstanding vintage. One well known grower whose wines we love even declared it “legendary.” I always take these proclamations with a grain of salt, but it seems the reports are positive from almost every source I’ve encountered.

Which leads to a challenge; what to buy? 2018 is our son’s birth year, so we’ll go deep. I just made our first purchase, the 2018 Gastronome from Gimmonet, which we actually prefer to Bouchard for petite mousse, a lovely style. While we haven’t tasted this vintage, it’s an easy buy at $45.

Obviously we’ll be buying some of our favorite Grand Marques (Cristal, Krug, Billecart-Salmon, Clos des Goisses), but would love your thoughts on what else we might buy if the price is right? What have you tasted that you’ve liked?

TIA

Recommendations so far (any marked NV are for '18 base)

  • Vouette et Sorbee Blanc d’Argile NV
  • Larmandier Bernier Latitude NV
  • Pierre Peters Cuvee de Reserve NV Magnums (scan the code)
  • Suenen ‘C+C’ Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut NV
  • Nicolas Maillart Montchenot Premier Cru Extra Brut NV
  • Pierre Gerbais Celles Sur Ource Cuvee Experimentale No. 18
  • 2018 Benoit Lahaye Le Jardin de la Grosse Pierre
  • 2018 Ruppert-Leroy, the whole selection are very good.
  • Marguet Shaman 18
  • Clandestin Grandes Lignes
  • Antoine Chevalier Tecta Silva 2018
  • 2018 Guiborat Tethys
  • Guiborat de Caures a Mont Aigu
  • Benoit Lahaye, everything
  • Cedric Mousse Les Vignes de mon Village
  • 2018 Vouette et Sorbee Fidele
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@Brad_Baker
@William_Kelley

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From my perspective the jury is out on 2018 and it is way too early to make pronouncements. I often have the feeling when there is quantity, the critics go high and when there is no quanitity the opposite

My perspective is wholely based on grower producers and for myself I prefer 2017 to 2018.

A lot of the champagnes I have tasted lack acidity and are a bit four square, lacking freshness and tension. 2018 was the year of the Coteaux’s.

I think however it fits into what style of champagne you prefer warm vintage contra cold vintage, if 2012 and 2015 are to your taste, I imagine 2018 might tick your box.

The best champagne so far for me is Vouette’s Blanc d’Argile, the Pinot Blanc adds great freshness to this champagne.

I really like 2019, it might not be a big vintage in the long term but really drinkable now. That however is not your question

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As far as any grande marques are concerned, with the recent and still ongoing price hikes, it’s a completely moot point for me. I’ll be looking exclusively at any remaining sanely priced growers.

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I greatly appreciate your input on these Champagne threads, so thank you. Very lucky we have you and the other Champagne experts participating here.

This statement quoted made me wonder. Most of the reports I’m seeing say must chemistry for most places came in with potential alcohol around 10.5 -11.5%, TA around 6 g/l, and PH around 3.1. The TA and PH numbers seem decent to me, but I am no expert obviously. My understanding is the PH is pretty good but the TA is a little lower than normal. Most sources suggest the lower TA seemed to be caused by degradation of Malic acid, which many places convert anyway, and that Tartaric acids remained exceptionally high, giving most wines at least a perception of zippy acidity. I’ve also read that sanitary conditions were so good that almost no sorting was needed, so the wines should not show any signs of fault (odium, botrytis, etc.). This was probably the best article I read that collected good technical information and gave a balanced analysis: 2018 – Champagne Guru

Setting aside that other vintages may be better for different palates, of course, since I can’t change the year my son was born (ha!), one of the things I’m taking from these articles is that it may have been a better year for Pinot than Chard. So, perhaps I’ll load up on Clos des Goisses and some of my favorite growers from the Montagne de Reims grand crus.

I’ve never had the pleasure to try Vouette, so perhaps this is the year to give them a try. Thanks for that recommendation.

An interesting article. Proof is always in the pudding, so we will see when the champagnes are released. Until the likes of Clos de Goisses is released which will take some time and I think then we will have a much better picture then. Look at 2009, now some producers are coming around to saying it is almost as good or equal to 2008.

Charles Curtus MW gives this vintage a 4 stars from 5 stars. He does not give 2017 any stars which I find a bit strange.
Also
I am in the grower side and the general feeling was that a lot of producers were not happy with 2018s. I remember last year, Leclapart when presenting the 2019 L’Amateur said this is what our champagnes are about, the 18s were just not what we were looking for, were his words. Emanuel Brochet was not happy with the 18s.

I think one can make comparisons to Burgundy, that producers struggled in 2018 and coped much better in 2019…

Good to hear. I’ve got a line on both the 18 and the 19. So the Blanc d’Argile has Pinot Blanc in it? I thought it was 100% Chardonnay and the Pinot Blanc went into Textures (I have one 18 of that.). And do you have experience with how these develop? It is in a style that would go decades (i.e., a birth year wine)?

The Blanc d’argile is 60% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Blanc and 5% Arbane.

I have had older vintages from at the winery, 12 years old and they were really nice, age more like burugndy.

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Do you think 21+ year old Champagne is going to click with your son at that young age? Or are you mostly doing it for your fun (which is totally fine of course)?

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Who knows?! Only one way to find out and I’d hate to miss the opportunity. Either way, I suspect he’ll be allowed a small glass of wine on certain occasions before he turns 21…

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I had the 18 base Longitude and Latitude this past weekend, side by side. The Longitude lacked freshness, aligned to Donald’s point about the vintage. The Latitude was better, more fresh, but both showed the sun of the vintage.

Donald, a correction is helpful. The V et S Argile is 100% Chard. This was my understanding and I validated it with Heloise Gautherot today, to be sure. There is no Pinot Blanc nor Arbanne in that wine.

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My thinking too, Troy. And, if my kids don’t want it, I will! :cheers:

I will go quite long on 18 champagne as well.

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Thanks for this reply, Frank. Very helpful.

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I am sorry, you are correct, I mixed this up with Marie Courtin’S Amphore Blanc de Blancs. Never the less the 18 Blanc d’Argile is a fantastic champagne.

I would go for magnums, age much better.

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Very thematic to this topic, and to your post about the Marie Courtin Amphorae, I have been thinking about when to open that pair of wines. I had recalled your post about it (I think that was yours) and it has stuck in my mind since then. I bought two each of them when they first came out, and with my respect for Dominique’s work, it made it hard not to buy them on faith. So, I think I’ll do the first set (BdB and BdN) blind for my group soon, and see what we find. Probably no better way to get a fresh set of takes than in that format. As a side note, Donald, the 2019 Marie Courtin Resonance we had on this past Sunday was straight up excellent. I personally think that the 2019 vintage is gonna be the place to find the real joy between the two vintages. Based on that bottle, I am thinking of going back into the market and get three more, even with my budget being punched in the face like a tired boxer in the 10th round.

And thank you for the contributions on the Champagne topic. We need to keep good discussion going on the growers and the folks who are making the stuff. Thanks for your posts.

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Sometimes when one does these big tasting bottles don’t perform as expected or are outshined by others, I have another two from amphore and will try soon.

I don’t know, if I wrote this Marie Courtin, is holding back the releases this year until October/November, she has the feeling that the champagnes need more time. I personally think this is a good thing.

Next time I communicate with her via email, I will ask. I have found Dominique to be honest and authentic in her communications.

Went and checked out the vouette argile bottling - yikes £100 here. I think not!