A small revolution in the world of Champagne. In 1967, Bollinger releases R.D. 1952. There is no comparable Champagne on the market at the time. This bold and brilliant Champagne takes the pillars of what makes Champagne Bollinger so unique, and pushes them to their ultimate level. It is, very simply, a masterpiece.
R.D. stands for “recently disgorged.” The majority of Champagne Houses have always kept a collection of old wines in order to share with their family, close friends and special guests. The custom was that these old wines were especially disgorged only a very short time before being tasted, so that those invited could share a perfect moment when the wine, disgorged just recently, would offer an extraordinary contrast of freshness and complexity from age.
Bollinger is the producer most associated with a single grape variety in Champagne, namely Pinot Noir. This more demanding grape to grow makes up a minimum of 60% of all of Bollinger’s Champagne, and for R.D. is truly the backbone that allows the Champagne to age. The harmony of Pinot Noir’s richness and elegance becomes ever more complex with the time this Champagne sees before release. Then there is the other association that Bollinger is so well known for: winemaking in barrel. As virtually every Champagne producer in the latter half of the 20th century moved to fermenting in large lots in stainless steel tanks, Bollinger persisted to oversee fermentation barrel by barrel for all vintage Champagnes. Another peculiarity of Bollinger’s vintage Champagnes is the aging under cork rather than crown capsule, to allow oxygen to continue to slowly work its magic on the development of the wine. Why do other producers not do this? Because every single bottle must subsequently be riddled by hand and then hand-disgorged. Lastly, this wine is is typically aged 10-15 years before release, with an aging potential that if not quite immortal, will outlast all of us.
Lastly, we have to say it – it’s no wonder R.D. is the Champagne of choice for James Bond.
R.D. 2004 is sourced from a total of 16 crus, 88% of which are Grand Cru and 12% of which are Premier Cru.
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).
The 2004 is a blend of 66% Pinot Noir and 34% Chardonnay. R.D. 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.
After 14 years on the lees, the wine is given a dosage of only 3 grams per liter, making it Extra Brut.
After the atypical 2003 vintage with particularly low yields, the 2004 vintage is generous and intense. Following below average annual temperatures and lower than average rainfall (excepting the end of August), the month of September fostered slow and progressive maturation of the grapes in an ideal climate, allowing the development of an intense aromatic expression in the fruit. The harvest took place during a bright Indian summer, a sign of a quality crop and an exceptional vintage.
Abundant stewed and candied fruits on the nose, accompanied by touches of sweet spice. With time, notes of Mirabelle and preserved orange unfold in the glass. Rich and generous on the palate, with tarte tatin flavors and a full and harmonious mouthfeel. It marries perfectly with the most refined dishes, such as pigeon or roasted scallops, and intensity makes it the perfect partner for an aged Comté.
– CELLAR MASTER GILLES DESCOTES
Sometimes you come across a match that brings together complexity of flavors, textures and even stories in a memorable way to create the ultimate pairing.
The 14 years that Bollinger R.D. 2004 spent aging on the lees results in an extraordinary range of primary, secondary and tertiary characteristics that come in a frame of almost unimaginable tension of developed richness and freshness.
In their quest to find the best way to serve Bollinger R.D. at the estate, the food-obsessed team at Bollinger came to the conclusion that aged Comté, when at the very highest level, offers extraordinary pleasure and an array of both complementary and supplementary flavors and textures to R.D. In fact, Bollinger developed a relationship with Bernard Antony, considered by many as the greatest affineur of cheese in France, to source the very finest aged Comté in the world.
In addition to aged Comté, R.D. 2004 pairs well with all types of risotto, especially mushrooms or truffle risotto. It also stands up to game quite 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.
Suggested Retail Price
Vinous Media - Bollinger’s 2004 R.D., tasted from magnum, is all class. Silky and understated, the R.D is super-expressive and inviting today. In 2004, the R.D. is decidedly light on its feet and more perfumed than tends to be the norm at Bollinger. Candied lemon peel, mint, apricot, pastry and yellow fruits are all laced together in a Champagne that delivers the goods. The 2004 is 66% Pinot Noir and 34% Chardonnay picked between September 25 and October 8. Disgorged: November 21, 2017.
Wine & Spirits - "Time has graced this wine, proving the value of Bollinger’s policy of long aging on the lees followed by prompt release after disgorgement. This RD (Recently Disgorged) 2004 is a joyous wine, staunch, cold and powerful at first, transforming to fresh fruit shadowed by darker tones of barrel fermentation. As it opens in the glass, revealing racy energy, a range of floral pear and apple flavors emerge, resonant with a sense of limestone capturing the sun and reflecting it back in pale power. Enjoy this over the course of an evening as its presence shifts, providing varied perspectives on a great Champagne."
Wine Advocate - “Fermented in oak barrels and aged under natural corks for almost 13 years, Bollinger’s 2004 R. D. Extra Brut blends 66% Pinot Noir with 34% Chardonnay from 16 crus, 88% of which are classified as Grand Cru. The wine opens with a very clear, deep, rich and aromatic but also pure and mineral-fresh nose of crushed rocks, cherries, brioche, pain aux raisin, white nougat, chalk and ripe, yellow-fleshed fruits. Highly elegant and complex on the weightless yet persistent and salty palate, this is an intense, densely woven, firmly structured yet elegant, beautifully refined and refreshing “recent disgorgement” (February 2018) that reveals just a kiss of oxidative flavors that adds even more complexity. A great Champagne on its way to improve over many years in the bottle.”
Wine Spectator - “The lovely nose of acacia blossom, toast and graphite leads to flavors of poached quince, fleur de sel, white cherry, lemon pith and almond skin in this dry and harmonious Champagne. Almost airy and ethereal in texture, yet the finely woven flavor range goes on and on, echoing on the finish. Disgorged June 2017. Drink now through 2034.”
More on Champagne Bollinger R.D. 2004
September 23, 2019 - Journalist Evan Malachosky of Cool Hunting published a detailed story recapping his harvest experience at Champagne Bollinger. The article, Exploring the Thoughtful Technique Behind Champagne Bollinger, is a beautiful homage to the…
August 27, 2019 - Ray Isle's latest feature in Food & Wine offers an education on French wine in "Drink These 50 Wines to Be a French Wine Expert." He offers an A to…
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