bollinger tasting @ richard juhlin champagne club 8 september 2014
After the summer break we opened the season with a grand Bollinger-tasting @ Café Egoïste in Stockholm. Bollinger’s greatness?
- Bolinger only produces their own champagne. No wines are bought as ‘vins sûr lattes’.
- A large ownership of vineyards, 60 percent, which will garanteea consistent house style.
- 325 crus, which 17 are grand crus & 41premier crus.
- Pinot Noir is the base in all Bollingers Champagnes.
- Bollinger only uses ’la cuvée’.
- First fermentation only in oak barrels.
- Réserveviner matures in magnums under natural corks.
- Long maturation sûr-lie.
- Only four winemakers during the last 60 years.
- Low dosage. 7-9 grams for Spécial Cuvée & La Grande Année & Vieilles Vignes Françaises, 3-4 grams for R.D.
mv BOLLINGER ‘SPÉCIAL CUVÉE | 2008 base | 60PN 15 PM 25CH | SBnr 7418 | 859 sek | RJpoints 81(89)
TASTINGNOTE ‘Yet again, one of my absolute favorites among nonvintage Champagnes. Since the beginning of the 1990s the wine has only been four years old when it enters the market and is vinified in steel vats. Even so, it’s fascinating to see how much 12 percent old reserve wines, vinified in oak barrels and stored in magnums, do to lift the product. The oakish, smoky, and deep Bollinger style develops after a couple of years in the bottle.’
2004 BOLLINGER ‘LA GRANDE ANNÉE’ | 66PN 34CH | SBnr 7579 | 899 sek | RJpoints 93(94)
TASTING NOTE ‘Bollinger makes the heaviest and richest of all the Champagnes. The first fermentation takes place as usual in oak barrels and the final blend contains wines from 16 different villages, all Grand Cru (88%) or Premier Cru (12%). Their wines are always a smoky and fragrant hazelnut complexity that is hard to beat. Since the year 1990 made vintage wines from Bollinger in a little fruitier more scented with peaches with slightly less pronounced smokiness and nuttiness. The 04 is super comfortable with a lovely balance and accessible creaminess of chocolate and nutty undertones already. It can surely be kept for a very long time in the cellar and despite its early charm.’
mv BOLLINGER ‘ROSÉ’ | 2007 base | 70PN 10PM 20CH | SBnr 7755 | 549 sek | RJpoints 82(86)
TASTINGNOTE ‘They have spiced the white standard champagne with a little delicious red wine from the most famous locality at Aÿ. The result is a modern and charmingly easy-to-drink, elegant rosé that can at first glance be mistaken for rosé wines from less personal houses. When aired, Bollinger’s famous nutty and apple-influenced complexity appears, reminding one that this is not any old nightclub bubbly but rather an excellent gastronomic wine.’
2004 BOLLINGER ‘LA GRANDE ANNÉE ROSÉ’ | 70PN 30CH | SBnr 77078 | 1 265 sek | RJpoints 90(93)
TASTINGNOTE ‘7-8 percent still red wine of Pinot Noir from the vineyard La Côte aux Enfants was added before the second fermentation took place before bottlling. The wine was matured on its lees for at least six years, which is significantly longer than the minimum of three years for a vintage Champagne. During this process, real stoppers was used in the bottles, in contrast to the practice of “crown caps”. This is considered giving greater protection against oxidation. After disgorgement, which happens manually a very scarce dosage (the conventional addition of sugar) of 7-9 g / l, which perhaps gives the driest and most powerful rosé Champagne on the market. A little young berry notes from the added red wine disturb a little bt at the moment. Otherwise, the wine is well-rounded creamy, harmonious with classic Burgundian Pinot smoky and nutty Bollinger touch.’
RJ ON R.D. (Recently Disgorged) is the same as the vintage wine, but stored a few more years in contact with the yeast. The 1975 was for several years the best Champagne I’d drunk. The critics are unanimous—this is a great vintage for Bollinger. Some bottles with the Année Rare label have been too young and closed. The wine is best appreciated two or three years after being disgorged, when its classic hazelnut tones and rich flavor of truffles, cheese, and chocolate appear more clearly in the relatively hard and acidic wine. The aftertaste is majestic, with layers of nut and leather aromas.
2002 BOLLINGER ‘R.D.’ | Aÿ | Champagne | France | Bollinger | 60PN 40CH | aprox €250 BJpoints 92(95)
TASTING NOTE Disgorged 19th of Sep’13, 11 years sûr-lie. 23 crus, 71% grand cru & 29% 1er cru. Dosage 3 grams per litre. Since the year 1990 made vintage wines from Bollinger in a little fruitier more peach-scented style with slightly less pronounced smokiness and nuttiness. I was always more impressed initially by the previous style, but it feels like the differences even out over time. 2002 shows lovely shy notes of peaches and honey. It hasn’t developed it’s typical masses of RD-character yet. In the mouth this R.D. is typically oily and rich with notes of Champignon de Paris (!), Verzenay-dominated, stringent aroma of red apple peel. The taste is beautifully balance and harmonius. I love to drink R.D.s between 18 and 24 months after release. This is a Champagne that really benefits from being served in a Burgundy glass(!) As always tis is a Champagne for true gastronomy. Like the tartar of deer and oyster mayonnaise and lemon zest that we we’re served at the premiere-lunch in Sthlm. This is a grand R.D. in the making!
1999 BOLLINGER ‘R.D.’ magnum | Aÿ | Champagne | France | Bollinger | 60PN 40CH | aprox €200 RJpoints 93(94)
TASTING NOTE ‘Some RD character can be discerned from the start. More depth and mushroom aroma and a metal-like and wood-saturated tone and less kind tropical fruit than the vintage version. Significantly better than Grande Année’.
1996 BOLLINGER ‘R.D.’ magnum | Aÿ | Champagne | France | Bollinger | 60PN 40CH | aprox €250 RJpoints 94(96)
TASTING NOTE ‘Such a rich and fruity wine that the RD-character didn’t bite from the beginning. Now very dark in style with aromas of tar, raw mushrooms and heavy powerful flavor. Although not as elegant as Krug, but lately heading that way. ‘
2004 BOLLINGER ‘VEILLES VIGNES FRANCAISES’ | 100PN | aprox €580 | RJpoints 96(97)
TASTINGNOTE‘The Vintage Champagnes from Bollinger is among the best in the area, but the question is whether or not it’s amazing and rare wine Vieilles Vignes Françaises, made from grapes from ungrafted Pinot vines, reach even greater heights. Champagne’s biggest rarity is made from grapes from ungrafted prephylloxera-vines in Aÿ and Bouzy. Only 6-7 gram dosage is added. No other Champagne can show such wealth. Undeveloped compact scent. Mineral, cold and deep, filled with exciting flavors. Yogurt that can be found in some red Burgundies, here is a very significant feature. From the beginning, this Champagne is nearly perfect with its deep golden color, wonderfully mature and nuanced bouquet and shocking attack.
Think that blanc de noirs can be so elegant and versatile surprised! Just as expected, a tremendous wine experience! The wine belongs to the few who behave with such natural poise that comments and comparisons feels superfluous … Fantastic long and homogeneous already a colossal dense fruit spanning between pears to figs. Tempting to enjoy now, and it’s not a crime, but if you behave yourself you should probably wait until the wine’s 20 th birthday before you meet again when the truffle complexity are fully developed.’
Only 36 bottles found it’s way to Sweden of this rarity. 20 bottles were launched at Systembolaget the 30 May’13.
RJ ON BOLLINGER Joseph Bollinger was the German from Würtemberg who founded this ancient house in 1829. The French called him simply “Jacques.” The firm’s large estates in the best Pinot villages were bought by his sons Georges and Joseph, and in 1918 it was time for the next Jacques to take over the property. He became the mayor of Aÿ, but died during the German occupation at the age of forty-seven. The most colorful person in the history of the house is his widow, Lily Bollinger, who kept a watchful eye on every bunch of grapes by cycling through the vineyards regularly. Her rigorous demands for quality still run through the house to this day. Now Bollinger is run by Jérôme Philipon, who control over 144 hectares, providing 70 percent of the grape supply. The winemaker today is Gilles Descôtes. Besides the house’s exceptional vineyards, they also use very expensive vinification methods. All the vintage wines are fermented in small, aged oak barrels and are never filtered. Malolactic fermentation—which would probably take place very late in the process—is not encouraged either. The reserve wines are stored at low pressure in magnums. Bollinger make the heaviest and most full-bodied champagnes of any house, and their wines always have a smoky and hazelnut-y complexity that is very hard to beat. The vintage wines are among the very best, but the question is whether the rare and fantastic Vieilles Vignes Françaises, made with grapes from non-grafted Pinot vines, can reach even greater heights. All wines highly recomended.