The best vintage wines from The Champagne Masters 2023

Having brought you our best non-vintage expressions from The Champagne Masters 2023, now it’s time to list the top vintage wines, featuring some outstanding fully mature fizz that’s available to buy now.

Taking in single-harvest Champagnes from 2016 back to 1999, this list champions an oft-overlooked category of this fine French fizz – the vintage sector, which can get lost between the prominent non-vintage flagship cuvées and the boldly packaged prestige cuvées.

For that reason, vintage is often where one finds the best Champagne for the money; where the toasty, biscuity flavours of aged fizz can be yours for half the price of a prestige cuvée (or similar prices to pretty-looking but simpler-tasting rosés).

But there is quite a bit of variation within the vintage category, with different houses releasing different years at different times, with different ageing periods on- and off-the-lees too.

So, it pays to do your research before selecting what single-harvest fizz to opt for. And that’s where we come in, as the following selections are the best-performers from this year’s Champagne Masters, and that means you can be assured of their quality, although take note of the descriptions – the wines below take in a wide range of ages, from bottles that are less than 10 to more than 20 years old.

Deutz, Brut Millesime 2016 

  • Producer: Champagne Deutz
  • Vintage: 2016
  • Grape varieties: 62% Pinot Noir, 34% Chardonnay & 4% Pinot Meunier
  • ABV: 12%
  • Residual sugar: 12g/l
  • Closure: Cork
  • Retail price: £70
  • Medal: Master

A brilliant vintage from the challenging 2016 harvest, Louis Roederer’s sister house, Deutz has shown it expertise at sourcing and selecting fine fruit for long lees aged Champagne, like this one. It’s a beautifully-balanced sparkling wine, which starts creamy and bready, with a touch of ripe yellow fruit, before displaying some dry nutty notes, then moving onto lingering characters of chalk and citrus zest – a fine, layered and refreshing fizz that’s ready now, but could be cellared too. (Patrick Schmitt MW)

Grand Vintage 2015

  • Producer: Moët & Chandon
  • Vintage: 2015
  • Grape varieties: 44% Pinot Noir, 32% Chardonnay, 24% Pinot Meunier
  • ABV: 12.5%
  • Residual sugar: 5g/l
  • Closure: Cork
  • Retail price: £55
  • Medal: Master

Such is the might of Moët’s Brut Imperial – Champagne’s best-selling label by some margin – this famous producer’s vintage offerings can get overlooked. But doing so would be a great shame: its single-harvest Champagnes are outstanding, like this delicious expression from the hot and dry 2015 vintage. Showcasing the character of the year, this is a generous style of Champagne, with mouth-filling notes of pineapple and cream, complemented by a brioche-like richness, then a subtle note of bitter lemon to cleanse the palate. In short, it’s an instantly-satisfying and complete form of refreshment that offers more depth and complexity than the standard Brut NV for only about 20% more expense. (Patrick Schmitt MW)

Champagne Piper-Heidsieck, 2014 

  • Producer: Piper-Heidsieck
  • Vintage: 2014
  • Grape varieties: 45% Chardonnay & 55% Pinot Noir
  • ABV: 12%
  • Residual sugar: 7g/l
  • Closure: Cork
  • Approx. retail price: £58
  • Medal: Gold

While 2014 was certainly considered a good vintage in Champagne, a cool wet summer prevented it garnering the status of ‘great’. However, in the hands of Piper-Heidsieck, this is undoubtedly a great vintage Champagne. The house seems to reliably produce a deliciously smoky, zesty, layered, dry style of fizz, with, in this case, enticing aromas of grilled nuts and flavours of baked bread and roasted coffee, married to tangy lemon, chalk dust, and a touch of grapefruit pith, which brings a refreshing bitterness to the finish. A benchmark vintage fizz. (Patrick Schmitt MW)

Empyreumatic 2014 Grand Cru

  • Producer: Champagne Collery
  • Vintage: 2014
  • Grape varieties: 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay
  • ABV: 12.5%
  • Residual sugar: 9g/l
  • Closure: Cork
  • Retail price: £120
  • Medal: Gold

As Champagne Collery’s priciest expression, this fascinating Pinot-dominant fizz from could really be classed as a prestige cuvée, but the producer chooses to market it as a vintage. Called Empryreumatic, it takes its name from a term used for burnt or smoked characters – derived from pryos, the Greek for fire – and the Champagne certainly has toasty notes, including a whiff of old fireplaces. Unusually, the single-harvest fizz is aged in casks and barrels – the latter made from both French and American oak – which explains some of the woody notes in the Champagne. Further flavours include beeswax, hazelnuts, baked apple and a touch of furniture polish, while the finish is dry, and refreshing, featuring a bit of chalky-textured grip. An interesting, complex, aged Champagne that’s refreshing too. (Patrick Schmitt MW)

Champagne Gardet, Millésime 2013 Extra Brut

  • Producer: Champagne Gardet
  • Grape varieties: 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay
  • Abv: 12%
  • Residual sugar: 4g/l
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Closure: Champagne Cork
  • Retail price: £38
  • Medal: Master

Recognised for its Pinot Noir-driven style, a reflection of its home in Chigny-les-Roses, Champagne Gardet produces fascinating wines. Made mainly from Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards, this wine is an excellent example of Montagne de Reims mingled with a bit of Côte des Blancs. Pale lemon-yellow with tiny bubbles and a well-defined cordon, this wine has lovely fruit with floral lemon- and orange blossoms and Japanese cherry trees with fresh yeast. A pristine wine, extra Brut in style, the wine is lively and fresh with light body, elegance and concentration. Long and distinguished, the wine will pair well with sole meunière, or oysters in a Champagne cream sauce. (Patricia Stefanowicz MW)

Champagne Joseph Perrier, Cuvée Royale Brut Millésimé 2013

  • Producer: Champagne Joseph Perrier
  • Grape varieties: 52% Pinot Noir, 48% Chardonnay
  • Abv: 12%
  • Residual sugar: 3g/l
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Closure: Champagne Cork
  • Approx. retail price: £38
  • Medal: Master

An excellent example of 2013 vintage Champagne, the wine is aged for around five years in the winery’s deep chalk caves before disgorging. Mid-gold in hue with persistent streams of bubbles, this vintage shows intense brioche, yellow peaches, and red apples with a nuance of summer flowers adding lift. Brut in style, the concentrated flavours are framed by brisk acidity and brittle mousse. A dense, textured, and layered wine with a lingering finish, it is a perfect pairing for pheasant-mince loaf with dried fruits-dates, apricots and figs-baked in puff pastry, or salmon with a watercress-cream sauce. (Patricia Stefanowicz MW)

Champagne Boizel, Grand Vintage Extra Brut 2013

  • Producer: Champagne Boizel
  • Grape varieties: 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay
  • Abv: 12%
  • Residual sugar: 4g/l
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Closure: Champagne Cork
  • Approx. retail price: £70
  • Medal: Gold

A six-generation family winery, based in Épernay with vineyards in Avize and Mesnil-sur-Oger, Boizel produces exquisite Champagnes. This wine, from the 2013 vintage, a possibly under-rated vintage, delivers a light-bodied, linear wine. Pale lemon-green in colour with persistent streams of bubbles, the wine has an ethereal, floral character with green apple and white orchard fruits enhanced by fresh yeast. Brut-style, elegant, tight in style but concentrated, with lively acidity and brittle mousse texture, this wine is an excellent pairing for Thai dishes, or with fish or poultry with lemon-based sauces from traditional European cuisines. (Patricia Stefanowicz MW)

Champagne Lanson, Le Vintage 2012

  • Producer: Champagne Lanson
  • Grape Variety: Pinot Noir 52%; Chardonnay 48%
  • ABV:
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Closure: Cork
  • Approximate retail price: £75
  • Medal: Master

Champagne Lanson shows how attention to detail can pay off, this year with a Master-winning 2012 vintage wine. The powerful mousse, mid-lemon gold colour with pronounced autolytic notes of brioche and marmite point to a long time on lees, borne out by the beautiful integration of all its textural elements. The nose underneath the autolysis is clean and fresh, tart green apple with ripe Mirabelle and lemon zest. On the palate it has bright crisp acidity and beautiful white stone fruit, very fresh but with an underlying richness. The mousse is elegant and vibrant, and the wine as a whole utterly gorgeous, with a long, textured finish. (Siobhan Turner MW)

Champagne Abelé 1757, Le Sourire de Reims, Vintage Extra Brut, 2009

  • Producer: Champagne Abelé
  • Grape varieties: 40% Pinot Noir, 60% Chardonnay
  • Abv: 12%
  • Residual sugar: 8g/l
  • Vintage: 20o9
  • Closure: Cork
  • Approx. retail price: £55
  • Medal: Master

Since its founding in 1757, ‘Abelé 1757’ has been a hallmark of the maison’s range of Champagnes. This wine, like previous years, is a perfect reflection of the vintage, and unlike some years is comprised of only Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Pale lemon-green in colour with tiny bubbles and a defined cordon, the wine shows pear and red apple fruit accented by tangerine zest and fresh yeast. Extra-Brut in style, mid-weight and lively, this example has excellent concentration of flavour, creamy mousse texture and a lingering finish. Delicious on its own, the wine has the elegance to pair nicely with chicken breasts in creamy, gently spiced sauces or with poussin in red-currant and red wine sauce. (Patricia Stefanowicz MW)

Vieille France, Silver 2007

  • Producer: Champagne Charles de Cazenove
  • Grape Variety: Pinot Noir 56%; Pinot Meunier 44%
  • ABV: 12%
  • Residual sugar: 10g/l
  • Vintage: 2007
  • Closure: cork
  • Approximate retail price: £85
  • Medal: Gold

A golden colour, presaging the quite developed white stone fruit and golden delicious apple aromas. On the palate it has the same ripe orchard fruit notes, but with some ripe raspberry freshness and delicious nuttiness. Complex and with bright fresh acidity, it is elegant and long on the palate. It is showing its maturity, and would benefit from being enjoyed within the next two to three years. (Siobhan Turner MW)

Champagne Castelnau, Vintage 2006

  • Producer: Champagne Castelnau
  • Vintage: 2006
  • Grape varieties: 50% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir
  • ABV: 12.5%
  • Residual sugar: 4.5g/l
  • Closure: Cork
  • Retail price: £65
  • Medal: Gold

A wonderful and relatively affordable chance to sample a fine Champagne from the 2006 vintage, this Castelnau expression is an exciting find for lovers of mature fizz. There’s plenty of toasted bread and roasted coffee characters on the nose and palate, with some stewed apple and grilled nuts too, then a touch of ripeness, even a hint of pineapple, followed by grapefruit zest, and a chalky dryness on the finish. A soft, biscuity, Champagne with lovely, aged flavours and a refreshing, lively mouthfeel. (Patrick Schmitt MW)

Grand Vintage Collection 1999

  • Producer: Moët & Chandon
  • Vintage: 1999
  • Grape varieties: 38% Pinot Noir, 31% Chardonnay, 31% Pinot Meunier
  • ABV: 12.5%
  • Residual sugar: 5g/l
  • Closure: Cork
  • Retail price: £340
  • Medal: Master

For those who like their Champagnes complex and mature, but still lively and refreshing, this is the fizz for you. It’s an astounding and delicious mix of characters that come together to provide a taste of aged Champagne at its absolute peak, making for a sparkling glass that would be hard to improve upon. The first feast is for the eyes – this 1999 vintage is a beautiful golden colour – then comes the aromatics, which waft from the wine in waves, featuring scents from roasted coffee to charcoal and vanilla pod, along with furniture wax and dried yellow fruit. In the mouth, it’s hazelnuts, toast, honey and lime-zest, with a dry, grippy finish, then a lingering note of salted, grilled almonds. This ‘Collection’ expression is a late-release vintage from Moet, with 21 years ageing on the lees, having been disgorged last year. According to Moët, while 1999 was a good year for all grape varieties in Champagne, the Meunier proved to be particularly fine, and so accounts for a historically high proportion of the blend. (Patrick Schmitt MW)

Read more

The best Brut NVs from The Champagne Masters 2023

A decade in Champagne: rating every vintage 2011-2021

A decade in Champagne: rating every vintage 2000-2010

About The Champagne Masters

The Champagne Masters is a competition created and run by the drinks business, and is an extension of its successful Masters series for grape varieties, such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as regions like Rioja and Tuscany. The competition is exclusively for Champagne, and the entries were judged using Schott Zwiesel Cru Classic glasses supplied by Sensible Wine Services. The top wines were awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze medals according to their result, and those expressions that stood out as being outstanding received the ultimate accolade – the title of Champagne Master.

The Champagnes were judged on 14 March at The COMO at London’s Halkin Hotel by Patrick Schmitt MW, Patricia Stefanowicz MW, Jonathan Pedley MW, Siobhan Turner MW, Demetri Walters MW, Neil Sommerfelt MW, Adam Porter MW, Andrea Briccarello and Matthieu Longuere MS.

Please visit The Global Wine Masters website for more information, or, to enter future competitions – giving you the chance to feature online and in print – please call +44 (0) 20 7803 2420 or email Sophie Raichura at: [email protected]

This article was originally published by the drinks business and has been shared with permission.

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