A 2005 vintage… champagne anyone?

champagne-and-pate-408x544-2I have always been fond of all things sparkling, be it champagne, prosecco, english sparkling wine or cava; they are all delicious. However choosing the right one is another matter.

Earlier this week I went for a drink with a friend, and we found ourselves indulging in a bottle of Lanson, vintage 2005. Now Lanson isn’t a champagne that I would usually go for, however this bottle was delicious; with notes of candied fruits, acacia and grape jam alongside aromas of winter pear and quince. I was very impressed with the bottle and it made me realise what a difference a vintage can make compared to a standard bottle of Lanson NV.

This got me thinking about champagne and vintages, was 2005 a good year? I did a little research and discovered that interestingly 2005 was considered a ‘lacklustre year’, compared to 2004 which was a great for both quality and quantity. I then found myself lost in reading about all of the different vintage years in the past decade.

To conclude from my studies; if you’re looking to indulge in a vintage, the guide below from Jancis Robinson is a very useful place to start. It appears that 2012 is going to be a big hit in the not too distant future.



Initial reports suggest that a warm, dry September saved the crop from a damper, cooler August. The resulting fruit has good levels of potential alcohol, indicating ample ripeness.

Pales in comparison to the stellar 2012, with a cool spring leading to uneven ripening and one of the latest harvests in 20 years. Summer hail caused widespread damage in the summer months but overall the champenois fared better than many of their compatriots. Likely a vintage year.

An exceptional vintage in Champagne. Despite low yields thanks to frost, hail and disease early in the season, August saw conditions improve dramatically resulting in exemplary maturity, acidity and grape health at harvest.

Notable for its erratic growing season, which started warm and dry but then became cooler and wetter in June and July. Conditions improved briefly in August but the (early) harvest was problematic.

A taxing year with dry conditions retarding grape development early in the season. When rain arrived in August it was torrential, causing widespread disease pressure. The return of dry conditions in September helped some producers over the line, but sorting in the vineyard and winery was crucial.

After early complications a superb summer produced a clean crop of high quality, with particularly good Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims. Wines are plump and approachable.

Initially a difficult, damp year with widespread mildew; drier conditions in August and a fine, warm September proved many producers’ saving grace. Classically-styled wines with fresh acidity balanced by sound ripeness achieved late in the season.

An unusually warm spring led to early flowering and optimism which soon gave way to disappointment with one of the murkiest summers on record. Conditions improved towards September allowing a fair crop, with Chardonnay outperforming the Pinots. Above average acidities.

An exceptionally hot and sunny June and July with grapes in fine fettle but a dank August left producers fearful of underripeness. Fortunately, warm, bright conditions in September redressed the balance. Wines are supple and expressive.

Variable conditions throughout the year resulted in a lacklustre vintage, though favourable weather in the run-up to harvest meant that ripeness was assured. Acidities on the low side.

Unusually, quality and quantity were both hallmarks of 2004. Structured, well-balanced wines which have exceeded expectation.

Spring frosts followed by one of the hottest summers on record led to small volumes and typically very ripe wines of middling quality. Some fine Pinot Noir dominant blends.

A magnificent vintage for champagne with near-perfect growing conditions, capped by fine dry weather at harvest. Ageworthy wines with plush fruit held in check by keen acidity.

A generally poor vintage characterised by rot and underripeness thanks to a wet and gloomy September.

Hail, rainstorms, unseasonable cold and mildew made for a testing growing season, but fine conditions in August and September redeemed the vintage. High quality wines for short-term drinking.



Until next time…


Nicholas Aldridge – Marketing Executive