(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.
(2016) A very smart French oak, polished quality to this Bordeaux blend, with plenty of fragrance and a little lifted, spice and floral note atop deep black fruit. Very spicy on the palate, wth a little less out and out charm than the Tributo arguably, but it is impressively intense in the finish, real meaty grip and concentration.
(2014) As with their earlier releases, this is a Sauvignon Blanc that nods towards Europe as much as it does towards New Zealand in terms of its pitch and style. The nose is relatively subdued, offering citrus and a creamy suggestion of roundness and concentration. On the palate there is only a trace of elderflower or gooseberry herbaceousness - this Sauvignon seems to be more about texture and cool orchard fruit character, with a lovely freshening thrust of lemon and lime in the finish.
(2014) This cuvée was fermented in second- and third-fill, 300-litre barrels, 20% American and 80% French, using a combination of wild and commercial yeasts. It aged a further 11 months on the lees in barrel. There is more overt oak influence than on the 2010, with toast and a whisper of Jack Daniels, all nicely nutty with a rounded lime and apple fruitiness beneath. On the palate it is a big wine with over 14% alcohol, but the acidity tempers that, and there is no sense of tropical über ripeness. There is good fruit sweetness through the mid-palate, and the oak does not dominate the finish, it adds only a gentle spice and buttery toast to the clean, mineral-etched flavours. A very different wine from the unoaked 2012, and delicious.
(2014) Fear not that this is boldly declared as 'young vines'. 'Old Vines' doesn't necessarily guarantee quality, and believe me, this second vintage of wild yeast-fermented Pinot is fragrant and rich, with a touch of game and blood, solid plummy fruit and just a glimpse of more delicate floral and woodland nuances. It is juicy and savoury, the 10 months in older oak adding some clove and smokiness to really sweet fruit, a glimpse of raspberry ripple softness, but that plum and briar character and the 14% alcohol give it flesh and substance. Finishing on natural spice and deep-set fruit, it is a lovely Pinot in a more solid style, but not without elegance.