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Differences between Millésime and Cuvèe

Differences between Millésime and Cuvèe
29 June 2019

In our March 27th article we discussed the differences between the Classic Method (or Champenoise / Crémant Method) and the Charmat Method (or Martinotti Method).
Today we continue our digression into the wonderful world of bubbles talking about the two big categories into which the Classic Method is divided:
the Sans Année or Cuvèe and the Millésime.

In these two types all the champagne and sparkling wines fall, therefore also the Rosé, the Blanc de blancs, the Blanc de noir and finally, also the Cuvée de Prestige.
This distinction in the world of bubbles is enormously important, in fact it is a classification that not only identifies the product in a specific category but also prepares the taster who is most attentive to different notes of flavor, aromas and colors, due to the different products.
Another small specification: Vins Clairs are the wines produced from the last harvest, Vins de Réserve the wines of previous vintages.
The tasting of the vins clairs is fundamental: at this moment, the chef de cave identifies which will give life to the Millésime and which to the Sans Année, obviously assembled with the vins de réserve.

Champagne Sans Année or Cuvèe
With the term Sans Année or Cuvèe, which represents over 90% of the entire production of champagne, we mean a bottle produced from the pressing of grapes from different grape varieties and above all from different vintages (sometimes even 10 different vintages).
In Champagne, a Sans Année or Cuvèe wine is made by assembling several vintages in order to give it continuity of style and to ensure a constant production in the case of scarce harvests in quantitative and qualitative terms.
This happens in the spring following the harvest, when the most important phase of the birth of champagne arrives, that of assembly. This is the moment when the chef de cave creates a wine while respecting the identity of the fashion house, despite the vintage and the weather.
Here is what the vins de réserve are for, to give the wines of the last harvest those appropriate "corrections" so that the champagne is always equal to itself, continuing to be the visiting card of the maison.
In other words, the sans année is the universal and timeless champagne.

Champagne Millésime
The term Millésime identifies a champagne or sparkling wine produced with grapes from the same vintage year for at least 85% of the bottle.
Almost always on the bottle is also the year of production of the same. Obviously this does not always happen, but only on the occasion of suitable harvests.
The first Millésime champagne in history was Veuve Clicquot 1810. The Reims fashion house, for example, produced in the last decade only the Millésime 2002, 2004 and 2008.
Paradoxically, the Millésime is simpler; it is a wine made from a single grape harvest and it is up to the sensibility of the chef de cave to ensure that the characteristics of the vintage are respected, the identity of the house and its own vision of that specific vintage.

A Champagne Millésime can be marketed after 36 months starting from 1 January following the harvest.
The best chefs of the cave, however, make their bottles age on average for 4-6 years, with peaks up to 10.