La Grande Année 2012
Bollinger’s prestige cuvée is the vintage-dated La Grande Année, made of roughly two-thirds Pinot Noir and one-third Chardonnay. It is produced only when the harvest reaches a perfect balance. This wine ferments entirely in oak barrels, and undergoes its second fermentation under cork instead of crown capsule. It’s filled with aromas of honey, gingerbread and cinnamon, and offers a core of pastry and candied orange flavors on the palate.
In 1976, Bollinger Vintage became Grande Année; then, in 1997, “La” Grande Année, a name simple enough to illustrate its exceptional status. This prestige cuvée made its silver screen debut two years later, in James Bond’s Casino Royale.
84% of the fruit was sourced from Grand Cru villages and 16% from Premier Cru villages. The Pinot Noir, 65% of the blend, comes predominantly from Äy and Verzenay, and the Chardonnay, 35% of the blend, from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Oiry.
Bollinger has been the first Champagne House to achieve the certification of “Sustainable Viticulture in Champagne,” a new set of standards established by the Champagne governing body to encourage stronger viticulture practices (more here). Bollinger in 2012 in addition was accredited with “High Environmental Value” certification in 2012 (more here).
La Grande Année is vinified entirely in older oak barrels, specifically used 228 liter barrels and 400 liter casks that are up to 40 years old. The wine remains in barrel for 6 months, undergoing both alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in barrel, a point of distinction from the minute remaining producers who do ferment in barrel. The wine is then bottled under cork to undergo its secondary fermentation, rather than crown capsule. As a result, every bottle has to be hand-riddled and hand-disgorged. The wine spent over 9 years on the lees, and has a moderate dosage of 8 grams per liter. Needless to say, this is not an efficient way to produce Champagne. Quality is the only objective.
At Bollinger, only very high quality harvests become a vintage; in 2012, the remarkable maturity of the grapes combined with a phenomenal acidity have produced a wine that is simultaneously full, fresh, and complex.
The delicate color and golden hues are a sign of the wine’s maturity. The nose, whilst full and expressive, offers stunning apricot, almond and hazelnut aromas that are followed by notes of honey and cereals intertwining in a symphony of aromas.
The wine is possesses exception texture and structure. It is both dense with a silky and long finish, yet fresh and full with a delicious refined palate.
Outstanding aging potential for this absolutely stunning wine.
La Grande Année 2008 is the perfect Champagne to serve with a fine meal, underscoring Bollinger’s reputation as the ultimate food pairing Champagne. The Champagne shines when enjoyed with scallops paired with sorrel and vanilla or grilled oysters with smoked butter and sea purslane. Classic French hen of the woods mushroom, potato emulsion and truffles will do just fine. It can stand up to heartier fish and roasted meats as well.
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir
Champagne Bollinger supports sustainable wine growing by grassing over the ground, using biological pest control, reducing the use of herbicides, recycling pruning waste, and planting hedges and orchards to encourage biodiversity. The Côte aux Enfants vineyard is managed organically.
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