(2019) This tasting note comes from the launch of the 2008 vintage of La Grande Année at Champagne Bollinger's cellars. A full report on an extraordinary event and other wines tasted will follow. The blend is 71% Pinot Noir, 29% Chardonnay from 18 crus, mostly Aÿ and Verzenay for the Pinot, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Cramant for the Chardonnay. The wine has 8g/l of residual sugar.
Super fresh, intense and tight at this stage, gentle creamy autolysis from nine years on lees, lovely delicate truffle and floral notes, subtle nutty apple and creamy fruit in a wine that is tightly-wound, but just hints at hazelnut polish and depth. The palate is sweet-fruited and has an apricot and peach flesh juiciness, it is also long and beautifully fresh with a shimmer to the acidity. This is a taut and vital Bollinger LGA, fabulous concentration and surely destined to be a great wine within the considerable lineage. Tasted from magnum the immediately has more sense of depth and sumptuousness, but so incredibly vibrant. Obviously the same wine, but the expressive dial just notched up half a point. And tasted from jeroboam, superb again, a little tighter and more obviously youthful character. So nutty, the reductive notes very apparent, but tight and fabulous streaking freshness. Note that the wine will sell-out very quickly.
(2018) 2008 was a marathon harvest for Dom Pérignon (lasting almost an entire month from start to finish). The nose is classically 'Dom Pérignon': supremely fresh, with a polished, flowery autolytic character adding an extra dimension to the forceful fruit and toasty aromas. A real zingy kick of acidity leads initially on the palate, as the mid-palate develops, the fruit gains momentum, the acidity integrates. The finale is exceptionally youthful, long, bitter and dry. Clearly ripe, and showing weightless concentration. Nervy and tense, sacrificing width in exchange for length. This is a supreme Dom Pérignon of cracking complexity, that will join the pantheon of great DP’s. Potential to reach 98/100 (magnums likely to score higher). Drink 2023-2048.
(2018) Wind currents from the north worked to dehydrate the grapes on the vine. This is a super-concentrated vintage in Champagne, although it appears that many wine-makers haven’t grasped the oxidative nature of the vintage and protected the wines accordingly. Nevertheless, it is a grand vintage, and a grand Dom Pérignon. Although I have experienced some bottle variation, the best examples of ’02 have neutron-star-like density, immense richness and a long, honeyed sweetness. We will need to wait for the complexity and finesse, but it will come, so my score of 96/100 is based on potential. At time of this review? Maybe 93/100. Drink 2022-2042. (The “P2” has just been disgorged ready for release in 2019).
(2018) The vintage I have drank the most (more than 20 occasions) and a wine that is developing so slowly that it appears to be held in suspended animation. When first released, this was zesty and mouth-watering, the bracing acidity held in check with a decent level of sugar in the dosage: compact, cool-fruited, and very tasty. The acidity has calmed down in the intervening years, aromatic volume and complexity is building, although the tiny spike of greenness is ever-present in the background. Becoming nicely toasty. Such a shame there are no magnums! Drink 2018-2035.
(2018) I really do love this vintage, such beautiful toasty richness, a real palate staining intensity of fruit. This Champagne is a sinewy, broad shouldered beast, but never feels overly fat or heavy. A long finish you can almost chew on, and so complex. Solid potential for a score of 96/100. Drink 2020-2045
(2018) Following the heat and tiny yields of the previous vintage, the vines responded with vigour in 2004, producing grapes generous in both quantity and quality. A 'classic' (or perhaps more accurately 'old fashioned') DP, the 2004 is leaner in style, pretty and flowery, demonstrating diffuse sweetness of fruit. Toasty aromas beginning to develop. Just coming out of its shell after an adolescent grumpy phase that many ‘04’s have been going through, this has a bright future. On potential, 96/100. Drink 2018-2040.
(2018) Fabulous nose, a little complex sulphide character, so mineral and flinty, adding to the russet apple and those complex white flower and delicate nutty characters. The palate is tight as a drum, with lime and grapefruit driving the acidity, but a sense of burgeoning richness hangs from that spine of acidity, meaty and concentrated, with such a dense and supple fruit concentration, sweet and powerful and profound. Disgorged 2012. There are no UK stockists for this vintage listed at time of writing.
(2017) The fabulous toast and opulent depth that DP pulls out of the bag vintage after vintage - and after nine years of ageing of course - shines through, seductive coffee and chocolate notes underpin flashing bright fruit, a tinge of green herbs, then brioche on the palate, the thrilling blend of richness and layered texture with rapier-like, electrically-charged acidity.
(2017) Lovely yeasty, biscuity character here, toasty but pin-sharp, just blazing with sheer Chardonnay fruit with that hint of creaminess. Lemon pithy and dry, it's a savoury style with some grapefruit intensity, lovely balance and terrific length. Certainly plenty of cellaring potential here too.
(2017) Fabulous nose; much more open and giving than the 2002 vintage was at the same stage, complex but terribly pure and fine. The palate ha a certain nuttiness, a Cox's pippin English apple quality, but quite dazzling acidity, the mineral quality so long and fine.
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