It’s not everyday that one has the opportunity to taste a new vintage of one of Champagnes true legendary wines – Bollinger ‘Viewless Vignes Françaises’.
2005 BOLLINGER ‘VEILLES VIGNES FRANCAISES’ | Aÿ | 100PN | SBnr 90327-01 | 5250 sek | RJpoints 97(98) TASTINGNOTE‘The first vintage as a pure Aÿ because the phylloxera attacked the unprotected parcelle in Bouzy. Sad in itself, but for the wine rather a profit. Even fewer bottles and this difficult little flat and excessively obese vintage ought to be a disappointment. The reality was different. The highly expressive and intense aroma is similar to the monumental ’96 at the same age and we’re dealing with a really great vintage of VVF. The Aÿ-aroma shines indeed clearer than usually and the fresh and clear acidity present along with a magnificent grand aromatic spectrum. While it offers so much already, a restrained overall dark-energy of power is ready to be unleashed. The only question mark is whether the decision to make the vintage of a wine without dosage can disrupt the storage potential when I see a couple of grams of sugar as necessary as a conserver to slow down the oxidation in the long run.’
The Vintage Champagnes from Bollinger is among the best in the area, but the question is whether or not it’s amazing and rare wine Vieilles Vignes Françaises, made from grapes from ungrafted Pinot vines, reach even greater heights. Champagne’s biggest rarity is made from grapes from ungrafted prephylloxera-vines in Aÿ and Bouzy. Only 6-7 gram dosage is added. No other Champagne can show such wealth. Undeveloped compact scent. Mineral, cold and deep, filled with exciting flavors. Yogurt that can be found in some red Burgundies, here is a very significant feature. From the beginning, this Champagne is nearly perfect with its deep golden color, wonderfully mature and nuanced bouquet and shocking attack. Think that blanc de noirs can be so elegant and versatile surprised! Just as expected, a tremendous wine experience! The wine belongs to the few who behave with such natural poise that comments and comparisons feels superfluous … Fantastic long and homogeneous already a colossal dense fruit spanning between pears to figs. Tempting to enjoy now, and it’s not a crime, but if you behave yourself you should probably wait until the wine’s 20 th birthday before you meet again when the truffle complexity are fully developed.’ Only 25 bottles found it’s way to Sweden of this rarity. 22 bottles will be launched at Systembolaget the 20th of November’14. There will be a small allocation delivered in the spring of 2015.
THE VINTAGE 2005 **** – It was very good weather during the flowering that year, which was then followed by rain and high heat. Just in time for the harvest, the temperature dropped and it was dry and sunny. Particularly the Chardonnay grape excels this year with freshness and a flowery tone. From the start, a really charming vintage that most people love. They are seduced by the sweet and soft richness, whereas I stay more hesitant. It has a bit too much baby fat and sweet coconut notes, which camouflage the terroir and fresh- ness in order for my taste buds to go into a spin. Excessive mess factor! Uncertain of how much to dare to save in your basement of this vintage, but it is worth taking a chance with Bonnaire, Agrapart & Fils, David Leclapart, Louis Roederer, and Jacques Selosse.
- Bolinger only produces their own champagne. No wines are bought as ‘vins sûr lattes’.
- A large ownership of vineyards, 60 percent, which will garanteea consistent house style.
- 325 crus, which 17 are grand crus & 41premier crus.
- Pinot Noir is the base in all Bollingers Champagnes.
- Bollinger only uses ’la cuvée’.
- First fermentation only in oak barrels.
- Réserveviner matures in magnums under natural corks.
- Long maturation sûr-lie.
- Only four winemakers during the last 60 years.
- Low dosage. 7-9 grams for Spécial Cuvée & La Grande Année & Vieilles Vignes Françaises, 3-4 grams for R.D.
RJ ON BOLLINGER Joseph Bollinger was the German from Würtemberg who founded this ancient house in 1829. The French called him simply “Jacques.” The firm’s large estates in the best Pinot villages were bought by his sons Georges and Joseph, and in 1918 it was time for the next Jacques to take over the property. He became the mayor of Aÿ, but died during the German occupation at the age of forty-seven. The most colorful person in the history of the house is his widow, Lily Bollinger, who kept a watchful eye on every bunch of grapes by cycling through the vineyards regularly. Her rigorous demands for quality still run through the house to this day. Now Bollinger is run by Jérôme Philipon, who control over 144 hectares, providing 70 percent of the grape supply. The winemaker today is Gilles Descôtes. Besides the house’s exceptional vineyards, they also use very expensive vinification methods. All the vintage wines are fermented in small, aged oak barrels and are never filtered. Malolactic fermentation—which would probably take place very late in the process—is not encouraged either. The reserve wines are stored at low pressure in magnums. Bollinger make the heaviest and most full-bodied champagnes of any house, and their wines always have a smoky and hazelnut-y complexity that is very hard to beat. The vintage wines are among the very best, but the question is whether the rare and fantastic Vieilles Vignes Françaises, made with grapes from non-grafted Pinot vines, can reach even greater heights. All wines highly recomended.