I work in a liquor store that can only receive wines from our distirbutors. In the 12/15/12 WS issue there were a number of NV champagnes and sparkling wines rated 90+. We feature some WS 90+ wines since some of our customers are intrigued by the heft of WS ratings. How do I know if the NV wines we have are the ones currently profiled? Are we getting current releases from our distributors?
The short answer is that you are unlikely to be sure.
Occasionally a tasting note will mention the disgorgement date. Occasionally, you can either see, or guess the disgorgement date on the bottle. It is going to be rare that both occur simultaneously so that you can be sure the tasting note matches the bottle in your hand.
But there is some good news. Most Champagne houses strive for consistency in their NV bottlings, so there is often very little variation from batch to batch. Also note that the scores tend to behave in a similar way, and rarely budge by a point or two from the previous rating. So even if the tasting note is referring to a more recent disgorgement than the lot you received at the shop, it will still give a good ballpark indication of the wine. The other good news is that, IMO, many or most NV Champagnes actually get a little better with bottle age. So that bottle that scored 89 two years ago, which is the disgorgement that your distributer gave you last week, might show better now, and match the 91 points that WS gave the most recent bottling, which you won't get from your distributer until 2014. Unless, of course, your distributer is keeping the current bottles in a hot warehouse for the next 2 years.
Just please don't do what my LWS does, and keep a shelf talker for a Champagne up for 10 years.
Unfortunately, I've seen significant variation in some of my favorite NVs over the years. I'd think that the distributor might be able to obtain disgorgement dates for you if they're not printed on the bottle.
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