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Winner Details

Champagne: Vintage

2014: Gold: 3; Silver: 4; Bronze: 1; Commended: 5
2013: Gold: 2; Silver: 4; Bronze: 1
Must-list index: 45%
Overall performance SWA 2014: B-

If the non-vintage Champagne flight was characterised by impressive consistency, it was a very different story for the vintage wines. Quality, once again, was good – ‘a nice way to start the day’ as one happy taster put it – but there were huge variations in style, as you would expect for a category that is intended to reflect the year as much as the winery’s house style.

Central to the whole style question was what Jane Austen might have called Age and Ageability. Specifically: are these wines designed to age? And if so, how old do they need to be before they’re ready to drink and, therefore, useful to a restaurant?

‘2002 and 2006 are both drinking really well at the moment, but anything beyond that is still a bit young to my mind,’ mused consultant Ronan Sayburn MS, and with fewer of the forward 2005s on offer, our tasters mostly went for the older wines.

The second-youngest Gold-Listed wine, for instance, was Castelnau’s superbly priced Blanc de Blancs, which, from the brilliant 2002 vintage, is already over a decade old, and there are signs that this taut, crystalline vintage is starting to come into its own now.

Not that it’s an automatic sell even when the vintage, quality and price stack up.

‘We don’t sell too much vintage Champagne at all,’ said Ram Chhetri of Bread Street Kitchen. ‘In the City, people don’t tend to go for the top end at all, they’re mostly going for basic Champagne. They look for a good name and go for it.’ 


Congratulations to Charles Heidsieck, whose Blanc des Millénaires 1995 picked up a place on the Gold List for the second year running.

From the Tasting Teams

‘All the wines we put through for medals were fantastic and we would be happy to recommend them on the floor; good winemaking and good vintages.’ Nigel Lister, team leader

‘Non-vintage Champagne is the flagship. When you release the vintage Champagne, you get the soul of the winery.’ Xavier Lamande, L’Etranger

‘It’s more personal and more about the winemaker. It can be hard in Champagne and maybe our guests don’t understand. Some of these wines are dry and flinty. Others are full-bodied and have bigger flavours.’ Lionel Periner, The Lucky Onion

‘By the very nature of vintage Champagne it needs ageing and you’ve got to pay for that ageing.’ Ronan Sayburn MS, consultant