On May 5th it was time for the Swedish premiere of the new vintages of Bollinger La Grande Année 2005, and La Grande Année Rosé 2005. For this reason, we we’re invited to a tasting with a specially composed lunch. Chef Björn Frantzén @ two star Guide Michel restaurant ’Frantzén’ had prepared a three course lunch for us: Also present was Bollingers head winemaker Gilles Descotes.
THE VINTAGE 2005 **** – It was very good weather during the flowering that year, which was then followed by rain and high heat. Just in time for the harvest, the temperature dropped and it was dry and sunny. Particularly the Chardonnay grape excels this year with freshness and a flowery tone. From the start, a really charming vintage that most people love. They are seduced by the sweet and soft richness, whereas I stay more hesitant. It has a bit too much baby fat and sweet coconut notes, which camouflage the terroir and fresh- ness in order for my taste buds to go into a spin. Excessive mess factor! Uncertain of how much to dare to save in your basement of this vintage, but it is worth taking a chance with Bonnaire, Agrapart & Fils, David Leclapart, Louis Roederer, and Jacques Selosse.
- 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.
Also read our blog post on 2005 Bollinger ’Vieilles Vignes Françaises’
Photo: Tobias Björkgren
mv BOLLINGER ‘SPÉCIAL CUVÉE | 60PN 15 PM 25CH | SBnr 7418 | 429 sek | 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.’ 81(88) RJ POINTS
Panfried scallop, bonemarrow, farmed caviar, couliflower jus, pure of herbs & sea weed
2005 BOLLINGER ’LA GRANDE ANNÉE’ | 66PN 34CH | SBnr 7579 | 899 sek | RJpoints 94(95)
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. Aÿ and Verzenay are in full control. I love when Bollinger leaves the Pinot Noir in the driving seat like this. The sweet, flirty vintage is never really my cup of tea. But here its turned into an advantage. The classic hazelnuttyness becomes Sicilian pistachio and nougat, the dark cocoa notes turnes into pure heavenly milk chocolate. Despite this obvious Nirvana of pleasure there is a great seriousity and sleeping animalistic power- Personaly I am so impressed that I consider the wine fully mature from the release. A great Bollinger vintage indeed.’
Fried monkfish in cream, ramson, creamy morrels, buttred white wine sauce, hazelnut oil, green pees & nettles
2005 BOLLINGER ’LA GRANDE ANNÉE ROSÉ’ | 72PN 28CH | SBnr 77078 | 1 265 sek | RJpoints 92(94)
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. Aÿ and Verzenay also confide the note in the pink version. I love when Bollinger let the Pinot Noir be so heavily dominant. Also here, we are dealing with a great vintage for the traditional boutique house in Ay. The scent is perhaps a bit more closed than it is in the white twin, but on the other hand, seasoned with new seductive elements reminiscent of Marie Antoinette. A puff box note and dried rose petals romanticize risqué over the classic nutty depth. The length and the structural grandeur is extremely impressive.’
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.