Pictures of this tasting and be viewed via this link:
Bollinger Champagnes Tasting Photo Album
|Bastien Mariani of Bollinger Champagne|
During the presentation, Bastien highlighted several factors which over the years have helped this House with its continued success. Some notable factors were:
a. Owning its own vineyards (presently about 165 hectares within the Champagne region) helps this House implement its own viticultural standards and practices. This goes a long way to ensure quality of its grapes. Currently 97 hectares are under Pinot Noir cultivation, 38 hectares under Chardonnay and 30 hectares used for Pinot Meunier.
b. The conscious choice of using Pinot Noir as the dominant grape varietal for its champagnes is highlighted as a winning formula.
c. The reserve wines of this Houser are stored in Magnum bottles and stored under cork, which according to Bastien, offers winemakers a good quality of base wines to work with.
d. Fermentation is undertaken in barrels and the finished champagnes are aged way longer than stipulated by appellation rules; a process which goes to produce elegant and complex sips.
e. This House has always been a family owned concern, which gives it a degree of freedom in running its own affairs; making it all the more easier to focus on producing and maturing champagnes in a manner the owners are satisfied with.
The Tasting & Wine PersonalitiesThe Special Cuvee Brut N.V. and Bollinger Rose N.V. showed as light bodied, crisp natured sips with persistent flavor offerings in the palate. Both displayed vibrant bodies with refreshing personalities. Between these two, I was delightfully seduced by the delicate red fruits and berry notes in the Rose, its personality revealing itself via tiny playful bubbles which teases one’s nose and palate.
La Grande Annee 2005 and La Grande Annee Rose 2005 were different creatures compared to the earlier champagnes. These were strong, sturdy sips (both in aromas and flavor offerings). Aging has blessed these sips with good weight, depth and long lasting finish. Again the Rose with its red fruits flavours and slightly spicy undertones seem to capture my preference. The sommelier at St Pierre served these champagnes in white wine glasses. Definitely a good call, as these sturdy sips deserved larger glasses to better appreciate them.
The last champagne served was the Bollinger R.D. 2002. If the last two were about sturdy champagnes with complex personalities; the Bollinger R.D. 2002 was about powerful presence. There’s certainly nothing shy about this sip. It surprises the palate with a strong, bold presence and demands attention; one which I was more than happy to give. It's not often that I get an opportunity to taste an age-worthy champagne which displays such power, personality and finesse. This champagne certainly offered a learning experience for me.
Additional InformationFor those keen, here’s some technical information on the champagnes tasted above:
Special Cuvee Brut N.V. Blend consist of: 60% pinot noir, 25% chardonnay, 15% pinot meunier (over 85% of Grands and Premiers crus used). Aged for more than twice the time required by appellation production rules.
Bollinger Rose N.V. Blend consist of: 62% pinot noir, 24% chardonnay, 14% pinot meunier (again over 85% of Grands and Premiers crus used). Aged for more than twice the time required by appellation production rules.
La Grande Annee 2005 Blend consist of: 70% pinot noir and 30% chardonnay. Grapes from 13 crus; Pinot noir mainly from Ay and Verzenay; and Chardonnay from Avize. Chouilly and Mesnil-sur-Oger. 95% of Grand crus and 5% Premier crus used. Fermented entirely in barrels; and aged for more than twice the time required by appellation production rules. Only produced in exceptional vintages.
La Grande Annee Rose 2005 Blend consist of: 72% pinot noir and 28% chardonnay. Grapes originating from 13 crus; Pinot noir mainly from Ay and Verzenay; Chardonnay from Avize, Chouilly and Mesnil-sur-Oger; with 5% of red wine contributed by Cote aux Enfants wine. 95% Grand crus and 5% Premier crus used. Aged for more than twice the time required by appellation production rules.
Bollinger R.D. 2002 Blend consist of: 60% Pinot noir and 40% chardonnay. Grapes come from 23 crus; 71% Grand crus and 29% Premiers crus. Only the very est amog vintage champagnes become Bollinger R.D. Very long maturation, more than three times the time required by appellation production rules.