No serious wine collection is complete without cellared vintage Champagne. A collector may like Bordeaux or Burgundy to the exclusion of almost everything else but everyone needs Champagne for those special occasions and for guests.
In Sell Wine Guide’s experience there’s we noticed that many non-collectors receive high-end vintage Champagne bottles as gift and then sell them years later. So those wedding and anniversary gift can be worth a lot of money since Champagne can age for a long time!
We interviewed one of the leading experts in the world of Champagne; Christopher Walkey, Founder and CEO of Glass of Bubbly, the only magazine to exclusively focus on Champagne and sparkling wines.
Sell Wine Guide: You recently published an article on “How to easily identify good Champagne” – are there any thumb rules for secondary market (collectible quality) Champagne – from a buyer’s perspective?
Christopher Walkey, Founder and CEO of Glass of Bubbly: You can run with what many will say is a certified investment and one that most people will always show demand for, ie vintage Dom Perignon and Cristal. Otherwise I would say go by what you enjoy the most, this could also be a lesser known grower Champagne and the market now is expanding and more and more labels are entering the scene meaning people are becoming aware of smaller names and taking a liking to them. Try and invest in magnum sized bottles and above and the wine ages better the bigger the bottle gets usually.
Sell Wine Guide: Many people don’t think that Champagne can be aged like red wine, however, I’ve seen and tasted amazing Champagnes that were 2 decades old or more. How long do you think Champagne can last?
Christopher Walkey: I would suggest that most vintage Champagne will last for many years, yes there will be a peak age limit, but beyond that still offers the collector/drinker a fine wine experience. I have enjoyed some of the grande marques vintages from the 1960's and 1970's and these have been some of the best Champagne I have ever tasted.
Sell Wine Guide: What are the ideal conditions to store Champagne for the long term? What happens when you “forget” a bottle in a fridge for a couple of years?
Christopher Walkey: Experts recommend not to store Champagne in fridges for long period, some say not to store them that way at all. Best is to lay them flat, in a dark location that has a set temperature (7-10 celsius) and humidity.
Sell Wine Guide: If stored correctly does Champagne get better? Does it lose bubbles?
Christopher Walkey: Aged wines are usually better, but stick to vintages and you should see an increased taste sensation as they age. I would say that you will lose bubbles and they may become finer as the years pass by, eventually I would say a very old Champagne may have little in the ways of bubbles, but offer an amazing complexity of taste.
Sell Wine Guide: What are the best external ways to tell if an old Champagne bottle is still good (without opening it)
Christopher Walkey: Who you are buying from will usually tell you if you are getting a good bottle. If you buy from auction or say online via Ebay then you may just be paying the price for owning a bottle of vintage Champagne that has no taste value as it may have been stored in a cupboard next to a warm pipe / next to oven etc. Check the top of bottle, cork area to make sure no leakage. Study the wine inside the bottle via a strong light to see if any cloudiness or irregularity.
Sell Wine Guide: Vintage Champagne is the most sought after collectible Champagne. However, most Champagne is Non Vintage. Do you think a decade old non-vintage bottle can be good?
Christopher Walkey: I have tasted 10 year plus Brut Champagne non vintage and they have been fine so yes I would say you can keep a bottle well stored and see it ten years later having a great taste and complexity, but value wise, investors would rather see a vintage of 10 years plus over a standard non vintage.
Sell Wine Guide: Other than the famous Champagne houses (you mentioned in your article: Ruinart, Charles Heidsieck, Bollinger, Dom Pérignon, Krug and Perrier-Jouët) – what are some of the Grower Champagnes that have great demand in the secondary market.
Christopher Walkey: Hard to pick out any really as many are starting to shout out loud about themselves and I will only be passing on third party information. Myself I have had some great tastings of great grower Champagne that I have gone on to see appearing in locations in London.
Sell Wine Guide: Any additional tips for people looking to sell their Champagne to wine stores and auctions?
Christopher Walkey: Do not just put your Champagne up for sale and hope for the best. Do online research first to see who is interested in buying Champagne, social media is a great starting point for this as there are dedicated groups/pages/accounts for investing in wines and many people love to own a bottle or two of vintage Champagne even if their interest is in investing in reds such as Bordeaux or Burgundy.