The so-called late-disgorged bottles celebrate champagne’s magnificent ageing capacity. Wines matured with their yeast lees for years or sometimes decades in ideal conditions are like time travellers. The category was born when Bollinger launched its R.D. (Récemment Dégorgé) version of Grande Année from the 1952 vintage in 1961. Today there are many more producers, the most famed being Dom Pérignon’s Oenothèque that recently changed its name to P2. Also Veuve Clicquot releases a Cave Privée version of its vintages.
The late-disgorged champagnes vary greatly from the original disgorgements. At launch the wines are remarkably youthful due to the long ageing in reductive conditions created by the yeast lees. But what happens then varies very much by the wine, some seem to evolve quickly and up being even more mature than the original disgorgement. The best require time and for instance Dom Pérignon now allows its P2 wines two to three years post-disgorgement time to show case the wine in full bloom. They no longer are the same wine as the original disgorgement but offer a much more yeast-enhanced style.