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In the case of non-vintage champagne, aging is not normally recommended, but for the bigger wines such as Bollinger Grand Année, Veuve Clicquot and the Heidsieck, another year or two in the cellar always helps.
Here’s a tip. When you purchase non-vintage champagne, use a felt marker to record the purchase date right on the label. That way the next time you’re in the cellar looking for a bottle of bubbly you can be sure your guests will get the oldest aged bottled every time.
What follows is a review of some of the more popular non-vintage blends in the market with a brief comment about its style. No matter what your choice is, expect to be pleasantly surprised by each wine’s style every time you pop the cork.
Multi-Vintage Brut Champagne
Bollinger Special Cuvée, $76
Bollinger is a big brut of a sparkler. Firm acidity and a restrained almost oxidized character signals liberal use of reserve wines. Its big mouth-filling flavours are a sure sign of pinot noir in the blend. Serious stuff, not for beginners.
Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve, $55
The Heidsieck brut is one of the richer styles of non-vintage bubble thanks to a serious re-tooling in the late 1980s. With approximately 40 per cent reserve wines from the previous six to eight vintages this is the real thing.
G. H. Mumm & Cie Cordon Rouge, $62
Fine aromas and flavours of green apples, melon, citrus with a light toast edge. Cordon Rouge has undergone some fine improvements in the last decade including upping its reserve portion to 10 per cent.
Gosset Grand Reserve Brut, $70
Chardonnay makes up 46 per cent of the Gosset non-vintage with its creamy, baked apple fruit that is a bit fatter and toastier than a vintage style. It has additional mouthfeel or texture due to about 12 per cent barrel-aged reserve wine.
Lanson Black Label Brut, $50
Lanson Black label is a blend of 50 per cent pinot noir, 35 per cent chardonnay and 15 per cent pinot meunier. Look for a brioche and baked pear with floral, citrus honey notes. The finish is crisp and dry.