Interesting to attend a Bollinger masterclass/lunch so shortly after a similar event for Billecart-Salmon. Completely different house styles, one Pinot dominant and with a strong oxidative theme and the other Chardonnay dominant with a focus on acidity and purity of fruit (barring the Sous Bois NV). I currently have a predilection for the latter so let my personal bias stand as a matter of record.
The component parts for the 2004 La Grand Année were entirely aged in older, small barrels. Bollinger’s export director Guy de Rioviore explains that the use of oak encourages controlled oxidation and increases the ageing potential of the wines rather than adding much in the way of flavour or tannin. Regardless of that I found the tannic impact of both this wine the and the La Grand Année Rosé strong and difficult to attribute solely to the percentage of Pinot Noir. For the record the blend is 66% Pinot Noir and 34% Chardonnay with 88% of the grapes from Grand Cru vineyards. Dosage is around the 8g/l mark. The bouquet exhibits florals and red fruits with strong secondary and tertiary characters; almonds, brine, brandy, caramel and vanilla. At times it leaches into sherry-like dimensions. Structurally based on phenolics more than acidity and as such it looked a much better wine with food. Powerful and rich with a luscious, creamy mouthfeel and the architecture to match. I found the flow slightly stunted but it was persuasive in other ways. 94
Region: Champagne, France
Tasted: April 2014