Bill and I went to a Bollinger tasting last week and tasted 4 wines: the Special Cuvée, Rosé, as well as the vintage wines La Grand Année 2002 and La Grand Année Rosé 2002. For Bollinger champagnes, Pinot Noir amounts to about 60% of the cuvées, which is balanced with be a mix of Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. The champagne house is one of the few that carry out first fermentation in oak barrels, and the vintage wines are all fermented in small oak barrels. NV wines are fermented in both oak and stainless steel tanks.
Waiting patiently for our glasses to be filled, we listened as the speaker went on about Bolly being James Bond’s favourite champagne, as we watched the bubbles dancing in the delicate glasses. And all along, I thought 007 liked his martini, shaken, not stirred. Finally, tasting time…
We were most impressed by the Special Cuvée, which smell and taste like wonderbread. Golden in colour, the wine was bone dry with developing layers of almond and toast. It was elegant and refreshing, and I wish I could have the whole bottle. Moving on to the vintage.
The 2002 vintage was one of the most successful years for the Champagne region in recent times, and La Grand Année was indeed an interesting bottle. Intensely sweet, the wine had a nutty caramel character that reminds me of going to a movie, a dark room filled with aromas of sticky sweet popcorn. This wine was disgorged in 2010, and the yeasty and yoghurt flavour was intense. We then tasted the Rosé wines, the pink salmon colour exuding pure seduction, while the strawberry nose was over the top with cheesy undertones. I would have preferred to have these wines with food.
After tasting all the wines, the Special Cuvée was the one we went back to. Maybe the blending of recent wines with 50% reserve wines up to 15 years of age really has its subtle magic. I personally found the oakiness too dominant for my taste for the vintage wines, and have trouble with enjoying Rosé champagnes in general. But to be honest, I would not mind having a few bottles at home.
“I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it—unless I’m thirsty.” goes the famous saying by Madame Lily Bollinger. Some find the words enlightening and poetic. I find it as a sign of pure alcoholicism, which is very much in tune with my preferred choice of lifestyle.
Bollinger Special Cuvée NV $468
Bollinger Rosé NV $718
Bollinger La Grande Année 2002 $1145
Bollinger La Grande Année Rosé 2002 $1428
All from Watson’s