The France Show at Olympia has been and gone for another year. We have been attending for many years and it is always great fun. Our stand is very busy, with Francophiles keen to try a selection of our wines.

As part of the show, I do a few tutored tastings on the stand. I like the ‘compare and contrast ‘type of tastings and they seem to go down very well with the public too!

This year I did a few special themes relating to some of our most popular wines. This is one that I did which surprised everybody!

How long can you keep non-vintage champagne?

This is a question that I get asked a lot. I recently tasted a Maison Lenique champagne that was a real surprise to me. We offered it to our Partners way back in 2007. It was made in 2005 and dégorged around February 2007. For an 11 year old non-vintage I fully expected it to be past it. However, it was a revelation and completely surpassed my expectations!

I showed this wine in contrast with our Maison Lenique non-vintage champagne we offered to 3D Partners last year, dégorged in 2013. So a young fresh, lively non-vintage champers versus a mature one.

Our Maison Lenique Cuvée 3D comes from the Côte de Blancs near Épernay. It is a blend of around 70% Chardonnay and the rest Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. We usually blend in around 20% reserve from previous vintages.

The young champers had a youthful green tinge and a fresh, lively, mineral nose. In the mouth it was crisp, citrusy and taught with lovely balance, length and a creamy mousse. A classic, Chardonnay-based style. Very much what was anticipated.

The aged champers was of a similar blend and had a deep, burnished gold colour. It had a rich, yeasty, brioche nose and a palate that was complex and intriguing, with lively acidity, crystalised fruits, toasted nuts and a creamy texture. The finish was long and powerful and it had a slightly earthy, mushroomy note at the back; a tell-tale sign of maturity.

The aged champers was incredible, tasting rather like a vintage, with wonderful yeasty complexity (what is often termed ‘autolytic’), richness and depth.

Wine continuously surprises – often surpassing expectations (though so often disappointing too!). This 11 year old non-vintage champagne was certainly a lovely surprise. I have no doubt that it was the quantity of Chardonnay in the blend that accounted for its delicious, evolved, yet lively character.

So, in conclusion, it can be a good idea to lay down some of your non-vintage champagne if you like mature, bready flavours. But it needs to be well-cellared and with a very high proportion of Chardonnay in the blend.

Andrew Bennett

 

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