From left: 5-year bottle age, 6-month bottle age, and all-new Champagne cork
Wine – like people – also ages.
Again, like people, some wine improve with age while others just become nasty and grouchy.
Growing older without becoming better or more interesting is, literally, a waste of time.
In the case of wine – more some than humans – there is a reassuring universal truth.
All Champagne improve with bottle age.
If we drank Champagne – Brut Non-Vintage or Vintage – immediately after the secondary fermentation has been completed following the minimum time spent on lees in bottle (minimum 15 months for non-vintage and 3 years for vintage), most would still be quite jumpy, perhaps even raw.
Which is why the best producers go beyond the minimum 15 months and 3 years respectively, allowing three years and more even for non-vintage (aka multi-vintage) and several more for vintage. Way beyond the basic requirements.
The extended time on lees of wine in bottle helps tame the incorrigible freshness.
Softening, the keenness. Rounding up the edges.
Even so, the Champagne will remain bouncy. Which is a virtue to be cherished.
Champagne Duval-Leroy Douceur Dry Reserve has the benefit of 5-year extended bottle age
SECOND COMING • REINCARTION
It is a well-known fact – after a Champagne has been disgorged and bottled – that if the wine stays in the same bottle for a longer time, it will improve and become even more delicious.
The frisky bubbles will be more tamed.
The fruit will shine brighter.
The wine becomes more complex as a result of the exchange of air – in miniscule proportion – even when sealed with a cork.
Remember the fairytale about the “ugly duckling” transforming into a swan?
I take journalistic licence because the Champagne – already very good and far from “ugly” – becomes sublime.
Bottle Age is like a “Second Coming”.
A reincarnation into something more stunning than an already very special wine.