La Grande Année 2008
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, 71% of the blend, comes predominantly from Äy and Verzenay, and the Chardonnay, 29% of the blend, from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Cramant.
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 2008, the remarkable maturity of the grapes combined with a phenomenal acidity have produced a wine of infinite depth and allowed an exceptional vintage to be created.
The year was characterized by cool and contrasting weather conditions. Short periods of warm,
dry weather alternated with cooler months throughout the entire growth cycle of the vine. Flowering occurred around mid-June. After a cloudy month of August, ideal conditions gradually set in during September to perfect a slow and harmonious maturation of the grapes. The beautiful dry and cool weather continued during the harvest and contributed to the impeccable state of the grapes.
Delicate gold in color, offering wonderful aromatic depth on the nose. The wine’s fruity, spicy and floral notes intertwine to reveal a highly complex aroma; wild peach, plum and orange peel precede sensations of saffron and are complemented by a fresh, mineral aspect.
This wine continues to build on the palate; dense and harmonious in the mouth. A creamy effervescence and fresh structure, with a gentle saline finish.
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 freshly sliced jamon or seared scallops. It can stand up to heartier fish and roasted meats as well. Classic French foie gras will do just fine, or to enjoy with fresh Parmesan or Comté.
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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Wine Enthusiast - "This is the producer's equivalent of Vintage Champagne. Fermented and aged in wood and then kept for nine years before release, this wine comes from an exceptional vintage that manages to combine ripe fruit and acidity, meaning the wine can age extraordinarily well. Although the wine is just ready, it will be much better from 2022 and for many years after."
Vinous Media - "Bollinger's 2008 Grande Année is rich, ample and full-bodied, with all of the pedigree of the vintage on display. Dried pear, dried flowers, chamomile, red plum and mint develop as the 2008 shows the breadth and creaminess that are such signatures of the Bollinger house style. A whole range of brighter, more floral and chalky notes appear later, adding translucence and energy. The 2008 is 71% Pinot Noir and 29% Chardonnay taken across 18 crus, and it is the Pinot that very much informs the wine in both flavor and texture. More importantly, the 2008 is one of the best Grande Années I can remember tasting. Bollinger fans won't want to miss it. Disgorged November 2018. Dosage is 8 grams per liter."
Decanter - "In 2008, the remarkable maturity of the grapes combined with an amazing acidity has produced a vintage of great balance, concentration and depth. The wine was aged for nine years on its lees, then for another year following disgorgement. Bright straw in colour with pinprick bubbles, it blooms on the nose with a fresh lemon leaf aroma, a sniff of strawberry and white chocolate and a candied peanut toastiness in depth. On the palate it’s silky, broad and lingering, showing a kind of bittersweet fruit profile with grapefruit and peach kernel notes, and an amazing chalky, mineral finish. It will keep well. Wait to drink it if in magnum or bigger."
Wine Advocate (97+) - "Bollinger's 2008 La Grande Année is superb, wafting from the glass with aromas of crisp orchard fruit, ripe lemons, honeycomb, warm biscuits, dried white flowers and a delicate top note of walnuts and fino sherry. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, broad and vinous, with a beautifully refined mousse, superb concentration at the tightly wound core, incisive acids and a supremely elegant intermingling of Bollinger's oxidative stylistic signatures with fresh, vibrant fruit. The finish is long, precise and chalky. This is a Grande Année built for the cellar—the real excitement will come with a bit more bottle age—but this is already a thrilling Champagne in the making. Finished with eight grams per liter dosage, it was disgorged by hand in July 2018. This is also the first vintage of Grande Année to be bottled in Bollinger's new narrower-necked 1846 bottle, which should make for a slower evolving wine."
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