Trade talk: Champagne ageing26th June, 2014 by Patrick Schmitt
The science behind Champagne ageing might be lost on the consumer but producers are striving to strike the right balance.
Presently, Champagne’s top tier, prestige cuvée, is increasingly promoting pricier expressions of the same products based on the complex concept of extended ageing on lees.
The idea that something might cost more because the production is tiny, the packaging is pretty, and the object has been genuinely hand crafted is easily communicated.
Furthermore, most consumers in wine and spirits are happy to incur an added expense for something older, especially if it is directly sourced from the producer.
But telling consumers they are paying more for the interaction of a wine and its sediment, including the by-products of a secondary fermentation in bottle, is harder, and especially when the science of this relationship is little understood.
Despite such a challenge, it seems that the Champenois, who a few years ago seemed to be championing single vineyard expressions for their rarity, are now promoting lees-aged blends for their complexity.
Scroll through to read some of the industry’s key figures’ thoughts on what the benefits are of late-release, recently-disgorged Champagne for the consumer…