Vintage champagne or champagne millesimé are made only from grapes harvested in a given year.
Vintage champagnes are usually produced only when the climate of that year has resulted in grapes of superior quality.
Some of the most iconic “recent” vintages in champagne that are still available to consumers are 2008, 2002, and 1996 (an outstanding vintage).
The most promising recent ones are 2018, which might be the vintage of the century, and 2019.
Vintage champagnes must be kept sur lattes for at least 36 months, but virtually all houses keep them much longer, usually five to seven years at least. This results in superior champagnes that developed richer and more complex aromas and taste. Vintage champagnes can be of any type (but not non-vintage, obviously).
Vintage champagnes, as opposed to non-vintage, are meant to express first and foremost the typicity of the harvest’s year, although, of course, the style of the house will be expressed too, in the background. Vintage champagnes are great food wines, as their extra richness and complexity, given by the quality of the grapes and the long aging, let them match dishes that may be too intense for younger champagnes.
Vintage champagnes are without any doubt the best buy of any house because they are made only with superior grapes, are aged much longer, and yet are not that much more expensive than brut, but quite less expensive than prestige cuvées (which are usually vintage as well).