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How to Store Champagne


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What's optimal?

Optimal would be a cave. :laugh:

If your cool, dark basement remains fairly consistently cool and dark, then that should be just fine. Champagne is one of the more finicky wines to store. It is more susceptible to light and heat damage than most still wines. A regular refigerator will also adversely affect Champagne through the repeated vibration it creates.

The good news is that most Champagne really doesn't need to be cellared for long periods of time. Most NV bottlings are ready to drink upon release. The same used to hold true for vintage Champagne because it wasn't released until the house thought it ready. That has changed, however. Smaller producers don't have the cubic cave feet to hold onto all the wine they'd like to, and they need to clear out to make room for the next vintage or NV batch. Even the larger houses with plenty of room, though, are releasing earlier because of vintage hyping. The only exception to this now are prestige cuvees, which mostly are disgorged late and released when ready.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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Brad there does appear to be some self-contradiction in your reply, first you it doesn't need much cellaring but then you go on to say that (smaller) producers are releasing it to make room for new stock, with the inference that it hasn't been sufficiently cellared at release time, or am I misreading it?

Personally I have found that all NV champagne benefits (or at least does not suffer) from at least 6 months cellaring after purchase, some need more. Of course that is only useful advice if you have a cool dark place to store it.

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Brad there does appear to be some self-contradiction in your reply, first you it doesn't need much cellaring but then you go on to say that (smaller) producers are releasing it to make room for new stock, with the inference that it hasn't been sufficiently cellared at release time, or am I misreading it?

Personally I have found that all NV champagne benefits (or at least does not suffer) from at least 6 months cellaring after purchase, some need more. Of course that is only useful advice if you have a cool dark place to store it.

I can see your point. But I think I can clarify a bit. Historically, Champagne was released when ready for consumption. I still believe this to be the case with almost every NV label. Usually NV wines should be drunk within two years of disgorement -- that's a generalization, of course. So a short cellaring is fine, but some would debate whether the wine actually improves or not.

Regarding small producers and cubic cellar feet, their vintage wines probably need some additional cellar time. And for larger houses, some are release vintage wines that could still benefit from cellaring because that's what the marketing machine is forcing them to do. I think the contradiction is really just a shift from historical practice.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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I can see your point.  But I think I can clarify a bit.  Historically, Champagne was released when ready for consumption.  I still believe this to be the case with almost every NV label.  Usually NV wines should be drunk within two years of disgorement -- that's a generalization, of course.  So a short cellaring is fine, but some would debate whether the wine actually improves or not.

Regarding small producers and cubic cellar feet, their vintage wines probably need some additional cellar time.  And for larger houses, some are release vintage wines that could still benefit from cellaring because that's what the marketing machine is forcing them to do.  I think the contradiction is really just a shift from historical practice.

The perceived difference of opinion could also be from transport shock, sparklers in general don't like being shaken and take quite a while to recover. I’ve found that some NV Champagne is ready on release and some isn’t, for me it depends on the producer. As a practical matter I often wait 6 months to a year to drink NV sparklers, but that's because they are usually purchased by the case.

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From movie Sixteen Candles:

Long Duk Dong: Very clever dinner. Appetizing food fit neatly into interesting round pie.

Mike Baker: It's a quiche.

Long Duk Dong: How do you spell?

Grandpa Fred: Well you don't spell it, son, you eat it!

My response:

Well you don't store it (Champagne), son, you drink it!

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Sadly, I think there is no "simple" answer about cellaring champagne, past the original sound advice of "how to". The "which ones to cellar" part, if you must, is tricky.

Late Disgorged need no cellaring at all and I'd advise against it.

Prestige cuvees are hard, because some are truly small batch, artisinal wines that can be stored, but some are more market hype than reality. Don't bother storing Dom Perignon (mass market, over hyped and not worth half the price. Came in DEAD LAST in a blind tasting of ten prestige cuvees with fifteen trade people tasting). Cristal falls apart with age IMO. Krug (my personal favorite) can easily cellar up to ten years. I recommend not more than five usually tho.

"Vintage" champagnes...well, again is "hit or miss" depending on the producer.

NV's, will settle out after six months, but again, no point in long term.

As for my ultimate response to the subject, well, read my signature line below.

Cheers,

Rob

"When I lived in Paris, and champagne was relatively cheap, I always enjoyed a half-bottle in the middle of the morning and another half-bottle at six or so in the evening. It did me a tremendous amount of good." - Gerald Hamilton.
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From movie Sixteen Candles:

Long Duk Dong: Very clever dinner. Appetizing food fit neatly into interesting round pie.

Mike Baker: It's a quiche.

Long Duk Dong: How do you spell?

Grandpa Fred: Well you don't spell it, son, you eat it!

My response:

Well you don't store it (Champagne), son, you drink it!

Or to paraphrase another movie, "Put it in mah bellay!"

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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If it may help : I like to store for 10+ years top vintage champagnes, but only the kind which are developped as a wine (i.e. with a strong structure, not only chardonnay but a big portion of pinot noir or meunier). Usual names : Bollinger RD, the "emperor"; Cristal, the "king"; Selosse, the "prince"; Alfred Gratien, the "bishop".

But be aware they will develop in time a very nice (for me) oxydation which I just love. Some people hate that.

To give you an example, I still have in my cellar, in magnum (the best size for champagne) some Bollinger RD 1964. Magnificent !

If what you prefer in champagne is finesse, light, bubbles, freshness, (like 90 % of the champagne) do not store them, just drink them. And always keep a bottle in the fridge in case of an emergency. No harm, whatever you may read here and there.

And do not hesitate to try one day the very good italian sparklings such as Ferrari (cuvée Giulio), Ca del Bosco and Valentino brut zéro : they beat quite a lot of french products !

If you think to be prestigious and go on Dom Perignon, choose the 90 : an exception of high standard under this name.

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