(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) Quite a small release. A vintage in which Pinot Noir was marred by rot, Richard upped the Chardonnay to 60% to claw back some balance and freshness. A well made wine, that threatens to turn exotic in the medium-term, the apricot notes of Botrytis add detail to the finish without dominating. 92/100 perhaps, but potential for 93/100. Drink 2018-2030.
(2017) Beautiful aromas here, a hint of meatiness and damp forest floors, then the small red fruits, very clear indeed, a haunting glimpse of something floral, like rose-hip perhaps in this blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. Dry, delicate, but there is good length and it does have substance and a touch of meaty, earthy character beneath the charm of the fruit. Drinking now.
(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.
(2015) The earliest harvest since 1922 when temperatures were on average 28ºC over growing season. Beautiful buttercup and emerald hints to the colour. There is creaminess and there is delicate honey and hazelnut, even a hint of toast. The palate shows ripeness but also extraordinary clarity, a very harmonious and rounded wine, lovely integration, with composed, precise flavours pushing through to a very long and elegant finish. Plush, yes, but citrus-tight and long. Whilst technically it has lower acidity than the 2000, it does not feel like it in the mouth.
(2015) A very slightly darker colour perhaps, a little more gold. Toasted wheat and hazelnut, toffee and cocoa, there's more tension and a tighter fruit quality but burgeoning notes of cream and apple. The palate has a crew and soft mousse, and a tangerine brightness to the fruit. Glittering acidity that is pithy, dry and zesty, but the minerality is clear and the wine is endless. Lighter in a way than the 1995, but just so elegant, so perfectly in tune. Not as spectacular or showy as the 1998 for example, but this ultra-refined vintage could turn out to be amongst the best.