The ultimate champagne vintage guide 1900 to 2019

Picture of Richard Juhlin

Richard Juhlin

In a northern wine district like Champagne, the quality of the vintages varies more than they do in a warmer climate. By blending the different vintages with each other in order to balance the wine, this problem in Champagne has been overcome. The years when the grapes ripen to perfection, which happens more and more often, vintage champagnes are made. These wines should reflect both the producer’s style and the year in which the grapes were harvested.

There is no template for the perfect year. The style of the vintage depends on a series of complicated factors where temperature, solar energy and rainfall are of great importance. The decisive factor is mainly how these components are distributed during the year. The personality of the different vintages is one of the wine taster’s greatest joys. Some are most fond of the powerful alcoholic vintages with excess heat such as 1947, 1959, 1976, 1989, 1990, 2003 and 2015, while others prefer vintages that gave more cool, sour elegant and fine-tuned champagnes, such as;

1919, 1952, 1966,

1969, 1971, 1979,

1981, 1985, 1988,

1996 & 2008.

Or if you prefer a combination of these vintage types, you probably choose;

1921, 1937, 1949,

1953, 1955, 1961,

1964, 1973, 1975,

1982 , 2002 & 2012.

Regardless of which years are preferred, the different vintages have a rich variety that makes wine tasting even more fascinating.

It is difficult to grade the overall quality of the vintage, as some vintages are generous at a young age while others take forever to develop. Others may once have been brilliant, but have long since passed their peak and are of little interest today. Remember that the vintage table that follows is very general. The vintages that have received the best grade are those whose wines are intended for a long life and which have a high maximum level. Several of the vintages that received low grades can be very good to drink now, as they are already at the top. Therefore, always check the assessments of the different wines in the evaluation chapter later in this book.


A perfect vintage in its style.


An outstanding vintage.


A good champagne year with reliable wines.


A simple vintage with few good champagnes.

A really weak vintage to ignore.

19th century

1874 is considered the best champagne year in the 19th century. Other important years were 1804, 1811, 1825, 1834, 1846, 1858, 1862, 1870, 1880, 1884, 1892, 1898 and 1899.

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