Champagne: Producers and Labels, Vintage Storage, and How to Shop for a High Quality Bottle - Part Two

Champagne is a sparkling wine made in the Champagne (AOC) region of France.  Some of the most famous wineries in the world are located there.  They deserve their fame for consistently producing some of the most ethereal wines anywhere.  These wines can be expensive so it is important to have a strategy in mind when making purchases.

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To learn the history of Champagne, the region and the developments in Champagne, please see Part One of this series.

One issue with buying Champagne is storage.  Champagne is delicate and improper storage can easily hurt the wine.  When a consumer sees a bottle either in a store or on a restaurant’s list, how do they know what condition the bottle is in.  Of course, in a restaurant setting, the patron, if they have enough confidence, can send the bottle back, although that is not always easy to do.

In the case of vintage wines, the consumer at least has some idea when the bottle was likely released.  With non-vintage wines, however, how does a consumer know how long the wine has been sitting in the wine shop or restaurant?  Unfortunately, it is not always easy to tell.  If the store is too warm or the bottle is under bright lights that can be an issue.

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.

One method is to look for the European Union Lot number.  The last two digits of the year the wine was released are often in this number.  The best solution, however, is to buy from a trusted merchant and one that has high turnover.  

There are quite a few producers of Champagnes with many different business configurations.  It helps to know the structure of the producer.