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.
78% of the fruit was sourced from Grand Cru villages and 22% 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.
Additionally, Bollinger was accredited with a “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 about 7 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 2012 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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"Energy and persistence"
Vinous - August 28, 2020 "The 2012 Grande Année is vibrant and wonderfully nuanced. Citrus peel, orchard fruit, brioche, dried flowers and chamomile are all finely knit in a Grand Année built on energy and persistence more than size. There is plenty of the textural richness that is such a signature of the house style, but I am also struck by the wine's freshness. Best of all, the 2012 will drink well right out of the gate. It is quite expressive today, even in the early going."
"Zero to 60 right out of the gate"
Wine Spectator - October 7, 2020
“This goes from zero to 60 right out of the gate, with an intense spine of acidity driving tightly meshed flavors of crushed black currant, ground coffee, candied grapefruit peel and toasted almond. The profile expands on the palate, carried by the fine, raw silk–like mousse. Richly aromatic and expressive from start to lasting, spiced finish.”
Wine & Spirits - October 13, 2020
"There’s an immediacy to its bubbles, and a scent that is immediately awesome—lemon blossom, lemon verbena and something exotic, like Buddha’s hand. The flavors are classical, expanding outward as the wine develops with air, potent, salty and long. Once it’s gone, you can smell the ghost of oak in the empty glass, even if it wasn’t overt in the wine. This is a structured and long-lived 2012."
"Immense future ahead of it"
Wine Enthusiast - October 20, 2020
"Still young for a wine of this caliber, this rich Champagne has an immense future ahead of it. The freshness of the wine will mature into the rich toastiness that is such a hallmark of this brand. Oak fermentation and aging have added to the great promise of this fine wine."
"Full-bodied, deep and muscular"
Wine Advocate - March 12, 2020 "Showing well, offering up an incipiently complex bouquet of crisp yellow orchard fruit, fresh peach, orange oil, toasted walnuts and dried apricot that's still quite reserved with less than a year on cork. Full-bodied, deep and muscular, the 2012 is blockier and broader-shouldered than its 2008 predecessor, with a weightier and even more concentrated palate built around a bright spine of acidity, concluding with a chalky finish that carries appreciably dry extract […] A superb effort and obviously built to age."
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Bollinger La Grande Année 2012 Bottle Shot
Added February 12, 2020 - Full Review To be Posted in May 2020
Other Wines by this Producer
La Côte aux Enfants
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James Bond Limited Edition
This limited edition cuvée celebrates 2 important milestones. Firstly, it celebrates the historic partnership between Bollinger and Bond. Bollinger has been the exclusive Champagne partner of Bond since 1979, so 2019 marks the 40th anniversary of their relationship. Secondly, it celebrates the release of the upcoming movie, No Time to Die, which will be the 25th movie in the series (and Bollinger’s 15th Bond movie since the start of the partnership).
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La Grande Année Rosé
Lily Bollinger agreed to a Bollinger rosé under one condition, it had to be extraordinary, and that is how La Grande Année Rosé was born. A blend like no other, the wine is as an extension to the House’s prestige cuvée, La Grande Année, as is the subtle marriage between this great vintage Champagne and the addition of red wine from a unique plot, the legendary Côte aux Enfants.
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