From the second fermentation stage, for at least 15 months

Maturation on lees

Maturation sur lies dans une cave de Champagne

Protected from light, Champagne develops new aromas

After the second fermentation stage, the bottles are taken down to the cellars where, undisturbed and protected from the light, they will embark on a long period of maturation. This is what is known as maturation on lees. The lees consist of yeasts that have multiplied in the bottle.

By the end of second fermentation, the yeasts die and decompose. This process is known as autolysis. The molecules released are slowly transformed as they interact with those in the wine. Meanwhile, minute quantities of oxygen enter the bottle and small amounts of carbon dioxide escape. This phenomenon will lead to slow oxidation of the wine, further developing its characteristics.

Maturation on lees therefore combines both these processes – yeast autolysis and slow oxidation – which, together, will continue to hone the style of the wine, gracing it with so-called tertiary aromas of maturity and fullness. The wine cellar comes fully into its own in this process: constant protection from the light and a steady temperature of around 12°C are crucial for ensuring the very best ageing conditions.

All genuine Champagnes must spend at least 15 months maturing in the winemaker’s cellars before release. Vintage cuvées are matured for at least three years. In practice, this statutory timeframe – already significant compared to other sparkling wines – is nearly always longer in Champagne: 2-3 years for non-vintage wines and 4-10 years for vintage Champagne.

 Over time, develop a wider and wider range of aromas  Over time, develop a wider and wider range of aromas