The release of Bollinger's RD 2002 in the same month as Billecart-Salmon's Nicolas François Billecart 2002 has reignited the discussion over the best time to disgorge Champagne. Tyson Stelzer reports...
Tyson Stelzer’s top 10 late-disgorged Champagnes
Dom Pérignon, Oenothèque 1996
Such high-strung energy, drive and acid tension – this is almost completely devoid of time evolution. Achingly youthful, dancing with fairy lightness on a stage of solid chalk. Resounding proof that the intoxicating concentration and searing acidity of 1996 can find harmony.
Price: £200-£300 Farr Vintners, Fine & Rare, Four Walls, Marc Fine Wines, Miilésima, Nickolls & Perks, Uncorked
Krug, Collection 1982
Disgorged at the same time as the original Krug Vintage 1982, this is one of the most profoundly complex Champagnes you could dream of encountering. A universe of profound exotic spice, pipesmoke and burnt grapefruit evolves to plum depth, nuanced by wonderful mineral texture.
Price: £400-£721 Fine & Rare, Hedonism, LHK Fine Wines, Seckford Agencies
Billecart-Salmon, Cuvée Nicolas François Billecart 2002
Nicolas François is not a late-disgorged release but, launched at the same time as Bollinger’s RD (below), it could be. Exhilaratingly honed, breathtakingly precise and monumentally mineral, the exuberance and energy of the great 2002 vintage will sustain it for decades yet.
Price: £100 Berry Bros & Rudd, Carruthers & Kent, Lay & Wheeler, Marc Fine Wine, Robertson, Uncorked, Winedirect
Bollinger, RD Extra Brut 2002
The sheer energy, bold complexity and shimmering minerality of La Grande Année 2002 finds even greater focus and honed definition with half the dosage and another few years on lees. One of Champagne’s youngest late-disgorged releases, it begs for another decade for its full magnificence to emerge.
Price: £150 Berry Bros & Rudd, Bordeaux Index, Farr Vintners, Hedonism, Noel Young, Roberson
Charles Heidsieck, Blanc des Millénaires 1995
Blanc des Millénaires is one of Champagne’s latest releases – later than many late-disgorged re-releases – and disgorged according to demand. At almost 20 years old, it’s transcended to a plane of silken magnificence and fine chalk minerality, yet still dizzyingly fresh. A regular DWWA Trophy winner.
Price: £145 Berry Bros & Rudd, Bordeaux Index, Charlie Crown, Excel Wines, Fortnum & Mason, Harrods, Millèsima, Noel Young, Slurp
Pierre Péters, Les Chétillons Cuvée Spéciale Blanc de Blancs 2000
2000 will be the first Les Chétillons to be released as a late-disgorged cuvée, a vintage that seems to transcend the very passage of time, evolving in
freeze-frame slow motion. Unnerving energy and immaculate poise are sustained by the inimitable mineral texture of Le Mesnil-sur- Oger.
Price: £120 Berry Bros & Rudd, Bordeaux Index, Hangingditch, Noel Young, Solent Cellar, Wine Bear
Veuve Clicquot, Cave Privée Brut 1990
Veuve Cliqcuot’s Cave Privée programme of setting aside respectable allocations of every vintage release is courageous, not least because vintages that don’t age well will never surface. 1990 shows breathtaking endurance – a mesmerising golden sunset of vivid brushstrokes of mature complexity.
Price: £125 Bordeaux Index, Fine & Rare, Nickolls & Perks
J Dumangin & Fils, Vinothèque Brut 1996
Such was the disarming acidity of 1996 that Gilles Dumangin never released it, holding back the entire production until it softened. It retains exceptional primary fruit expression, slowly building notes of ginger cake and nutmeg. Linear acidity promises decades of potential yet.
Price: £125 Yapp Bros
Lanson, Brut Vintage Collection Gold Label 1979
It takes 30 years for the most enduring Lanson vintages to break their pristine shell of malic acidity and attain their full potential. 1979 is one of the most enchanting of all, with all the complexity its old age promises, yet upholding a profound and lively core of secondary fruit energy.
Price: N/A UK lansonchampagne.com
Veuve Clicquot, Cave Privée Rosé 1979
Released this year at 35 years old, this is testament to the mesmeric longevity of 1979. A revelation of primary definition, pure Pinot Noir in its berry fruits, yet with a lifetime of complexity akin to grand old red Burgundy. A monument to sublime, mature rosé, with no hint of crumbling.
Price: £200 Champagne Direct, Fine & Rare, The Champagne Co