champagne types

Champagne Types (Styles)

Champagne types are also referred to as styles. "Type" is a word commonly used in North America while "style" is the traditional term used by wine professionals. The terms "type" and "style" are used interchangeably throughout the website. This report applies to champagne. Sparkling wine may vary.

Types (Styles):

  • Primary Categories
    • Basic
    • Rose'
    • Blanc de Blancs
    • Blanc de Noirs
  • Non-vintage
  • Vintage
  • House Style
  • Prestige Cuvée
  • Sweetness Levels

Type Categories
The primary type categories: The four primary type categories are discussed in our Categories report.

  • basic brut
  • rose'
  • blanc de blancs
  • blanc de noirs

Non-vintage is also referred to as NV, classic, and multi-vintage. Non-vintage is a blend of wines made from grapes harvested in different years. It accounts for about 90% of all champagne produced. The bulk of the wine may come from one vintage, but generally up to 30% comes from other years. Non-vintage champagne must age for a minimum of 15 months on the lees (yeast cells that die and settle out during the secondary fermentation in the champagne bottle). Most are aged longer (2 to 3 years). Non-vintage champagne is similar from year to year, but there are often subtle differences. This is often the case with smaller Champagne houses that may have limited reserves of past vintages available for blending.

Our Search section provides a list of popular non-vintage champagne brands.

All grapes used to make a vintage champagne are harvested from one year and the year appears on the bottle. Each Champagne house decides if it will produce a vintage champagne in a given year and that decision is only made when the quality of the grapes is superior. Champagne houses generally produce 3 or 4 vintage champagnes per decade. Many houses only use pinot noir and chardonnay for their vintage champagnes as they are often considered more complex and age worthy. Vintage champagnes are made from the best grapes from the best vineyards. They must age a minimum of 36 months on the lees (yeast cells that die and settle out during the secondary fermentation in the champagne bottle). Most are aged for at least 4 years and often more.

A list of popular vintage champagne brands can be found on our Search section.

House Style
House style (style de maison) is the main staple of the Champagne house, generally a non-vintage brut champagne. This type of champagne will be produced on a regular basis with the primary purpose to maintain consistency from year to year.

Our House Style section provides a list of popular house style champagne brands.

Prestige Cuvée
Prestige Cuvée (prestige de Cuvée, Tête de Cuvée) is the top wine produced by a Champagne house, symbolizing the ultimate in luxury. Prestige Cuvée champagnes represent the best of the best, from superior juice (first pressing), superior vineyards and grapes from those vineyards and almost exclusively from a declared vintage. Prestige Cuvées champagnes are brut. Most great Champagne houses produce a prestige cuvée.
These top champagnes display a great deal of individuality in overall style between different Champagne houses ranging from light to full bodied. Some characteristics set them apart. The bubbles may be finer and more delicate, the aromas and tastes more complex and concentrated, and the finish longer and more elegant from one champagne to another. Some Champagne houses produce both a white and rose' Prestige Cuvée. They are often bottled in a special ‘designer’ bottle.

Our Prestige Cuvee section provides a list of prestige cuvee champagne brands.

Sweetness Levels
The Seven sweetness levels:

  • Brut Nature
  • Extra Brut
  • Brut
  • Extra Sec (Extra Dry)
  • Sec (Dry)
  • Demi-Sec (Medium Dry)
  • Doux (Sweet)

The sweetness levels of champagne are described on our Sweetness Levels page.

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