Non-vintage Champagne accounts for nearly 80% of total production, and it’s this category of Champagne that takes up the most space on the shelves of wine merchants and supermarkets.
Although the category offers plenty of sub-£30 value, the best non-vintage Champagnes can command a hefty premium.
What is non-vintage Champagne?
Producers hold back a proportion of wine from every vintage to maintain their stocks of reserve wines.
Non-vintage (or NV) Champagnes are made by blending some of these reserve wines with wines from the most recent harvest, enabling subtle fine-tuning to achieve a ‘house style’ that reflects the philosophy of the producer.
Scroll down for our roundup of the best non-vintage Champagnes you can buy
Buying Champagne from supermarkets
Supermarket shelves are dominated by the most famous Champagne brands who produce enough volume suitable for large-scale retailers – among them Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon, Laurent-Perrier, Taittinger and Bollinger. Supermarkets will also stock own-brand Champagnes sourced from co-operatives and growers.
Own-brand Champagnes are rarely the last word in quality as they are made with a very competitive price-point in mind. The worst examples are probably a waste of your cash, but the better examples offer genuine value for money. We have included some of our favourite supermarket own-label examples in the list below.
Given that the UK has the biggest market by volume but the lowest average bottle price, according to the Comité Champagne, it pays to do your research when buying Champagne in supermarkets and in the UK more generally. There may be a lot of Champagne available, but quality will be lower and more variable.
Buying Champagne from wine merchants and online specialists
Venture into an independent wine merchant or visit an online specialist’s website and you’ll find much more strength in these offerings compared to the supermarkets.
Independents and small chains have smaller customer bases, enabling them to stock Champagnes from lower-volume producers, many of whom create terroir-driven examples that contrast with the blended approach of the big houses.
Can you age non-vintage Champagne?
Most non-vintage Champagne is designed to be consumed as soon as it is released. Having already been aged on its lees for at least 12 months and blended to accomplish the desired house style, once bottled it is meant to be ready to enjoy and is not necessarily expected to have the same longevity as top vintage Champagne.
That being said, good non-vintage Champagne will last, and indeed could benefit, from three to five years ageing in your cellar.
Since non-vintage Champagnes tend to sell for lower prices than vintage Champagnes, why not stock up on a few bottles and see how they age over the next few years; if not necessarily an investment opportunity, at least an interesting experiment.
Champagne: The facts
301.9 million bottles produced, of which 52% is exported
Non-vintage Champagnes account for 64.9% of exports by value, and 78.5% by volume
The UK and USA are Champagne’s largest export markets
Source: The Comité Champagne (www.champagne.fr) – 2020 harvest