One of the challenges with non-vintage Champagne is knowing exactly what you are drinking. Sometimes though you can obtain clues from the label or neck foil – for example, recent releases of Lanson have the disgorgement month/year stamped on the back label, allowing you to work out the base vintage.
With Bollinger the clues are more obscure – but codes on the neck foil allow those in the know to work out the disgorgement dates. Here are two I picked up from the recent Champagne tasting:
Special Cuvée NV: Code L002601 = blend of 45% 2004, 45% 2005, 10% reserve wines, disgorged September 2009.
Rosé NV: Code L005004 = base vintages 2004 and 2005 again plus reserve wines (as for the special cuvée) then to this blend 5% red wine is added in. Disgorgement October 2009.
I’m not sure how easy it would be to extrapolate forward or backwards from these numbers – well actually I think it would be darn difficult, although there must be some logic to it. We could assume the lot numbers go up as time goes on, but only a couple of days ago I picked up another bottle of the NV Rosé which had code L924409 (I think – the type was very close and thus a little difficult to read – must be my age!). Plucked direct from the shelves (whereas the CIVC wines would very likely be more recent releases) this is likely to be an older wine/prior disgorgement. Perhaps the numbers topped out and then returned to zero again?