This month we focus on the concept of reserve wine and its role in Champagne. More specifically we look at a concept called - Solera Reserve Ageing.
Solera ageing has been used for hundreds of years by the Spanish who coined the term. Specifically, in this era, it was used for the ageing of Sherry where each year they would add some wine from the current years harvest to a blend of previous years harvests from many many years prior.
This system of ageing reserve wines is also called a perpetual blend and essentially means that from when the Solera reserve was started fresh wine from the current harvest is added in a small quantity every year.
Furthermore, some of the blend of all the harvests is added to the wines of the current year to add both complexity due to the long reserve ageing and also consistency. Think of this tank or vat of reserve wines like a master stock which adds continuity to the house style. Over time this reserve wine will become increasingly complex.
When there is a cool climate region such as Champagne, there is no guarantee of consistent temperature or enough sunlight in a harvest year to give the right level ripeness needed. The reserve wine is added to non-vintage cuvees to compensate for this and most importantly add consistency in the wine.