After the second fermentation in bottles, which confers the famous bubbles to the wine, the bottles are left to rest for several months: At least 12 for “common” champagne, not less than 36 months for vintage champagne, in accordance with the rules of the Appellation d’Origine. Actually, it is more a period of calm and devout work, where the taste and particularly the odour of the wine are mould by time.
Depending on the composition and the wanted aromatic ripeness of the wine, many cuvees often ripen much longer in bottles. Many “common” Champagnes age 2 or 3 years on fine lees, vintage Champagne or “Grand Cuvées” often stay cellared for 4 to 10 years before being disgorged.
There is no doubt for Nathalie Vignier: ”Aromatic complexity and ripeness increase. The wines love to spend time on the lees!”
Even if the bouquet of every Champagne depends on its original character, a general tendency of aromatic evolution has been observed:
“First you’ll get flowery and citrus aromas. Later it gets to riper fruit, peaches or pear for example, before the rise of tertiary aromas like butter, toasted bread, pastry or dried fruits…”
According to the potential of the wine, which mainly depends on grape varieties, terroir and ripeness, you may literally sculpt the bouquet of the wine by using time: Crispy and fresh fruit for shorter aging, spicy and rich after years of patience.