Bloomberg Wine Columnist Elin McCoy’s latest column is dedicated to the launch of Champagne Bollinger PN VZ15. Arriving in the U.S. market this September, Elin had the opportunity to participate in an exclusive preview tasting with Deputy Chef de Cave Denis Bunner and General Manager Charles-Armand de Belenet.
She starts off by commenting on the unusual timing of this launch, given the current market conditions, and the significance that this is the first new addition to Bollinger’s permanent range in 12 years. She then explains the labeling on the bottle, which is a nod to the way project codes are written on barrels in the Bollinger Cellar, before sharing the inspiration and winemaking specifics.
It is worth reading the article in full as she includes several anecdotes from the virtual tasting experience, which virtually took place overlooking the prized vineyards that produce Vielles Vignes Francaises, Bollinger’s iconic and extremely rare 100% Pinot Noir cuvee. This collector’s item wine, she explains, inspired Cellar Master Gilles Descotes “to set a challenge for himself and three other winemakers: Each would come up with a new non-vintage, all-pinot wine that would be more affordable and accessible while reflecting a sense of place.” The idea for PN, explained during the tasting by Bunner, “was to create a little brother to the Vieilles Vignes Francaises.”
As Pinot Noir remains the backbone of all Bollinger champagnes, this contest and experiment allows the House to continue a “deep dive into pinot noir and Champagne’s terroirs. We’re exploring all its facets, searching to understand its diversity through highlighting the tastes of different villages and vineyards,” says de Belenet. Each year, PN will focus on Pinot Noir from a specific village. A blind tasting decided the winner of the first experiment, highlighting fruit from Verzenay 2015 as its base.
“Usually, the goal for any non-vintage cuvée is to replicate the style and taste year after year. But the PN VZ15 also reflects the kind of experimentation by trend-setting small grower Champagne makers over the past couple of decades,” continues McCoy.
In addition to detailing the winemaking attributes, she says, “This all-pinot noir fizz is gorgeous, fresh, and vibrant, yet also rich and succulent. Intense aromas hinting of mint, flowers, and smoky nuts marry deep flavors of cool, red fruit and an almost salty, chalky finish. ” Read the full story HEREBloomberg_7_29_2020
Vieilles Vignes Françaises is one of Champagne’s most mythical cuvees, produced from miraculously preserved and ungrafted 100% Pinot Noir vines. Phylloxera destroyed the vines of Champagne in the early 20th century, but amazingly enough two of Bollinger’s classified Grands crus plots, Chaudes Terres and Clos St. Jacques, survived and are still grown the traditional way. Madame Lily Bollinger first had this wine produced in 1969 as an anniversary cuvee to commemorate her 70th birthday. Following the wine’s launch in 1974, Vieilles Vignes Françaises promptly became a collectible and a symbol of a bygone era. Over the decades, its uniqueness and scarcity have made it one of the most sought-after and expensive Champagnes.
PN, made entirely from Pinot Noir to underscore the very essence and DNA of the House style, is the first new cuvée added to Bollinger’s permanent range since rosé in 2008. Each release of PN, developed as a series to bring Bollinger’s unique vision of Pinot Noir to light, will showcase a different cru from the base year that highlights its distinctive terroir and taste. The first edition of the series, PN VZ15, explores the interpretation of Pinot Noir from Verzenay 2015 and features reserve wines dating back to 2009.
Bollinger is one of the rare Grande Marques that’s still family owned. Known for its rich, elegant and polished style of Champagne, their outstanding wines are the result of rigorous attention to detail and incredibly labor-intensive practices that few houses are willing to undertake. Underscoring its excellence, Bollinger has remained British secret agent James Bond's Champagne of choice since 1973.