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Bollinger Champagne Brut La Grande Annee 2008 (1.5L)

$699.99
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Walking the storied caves of Champagne Bollinger in the renowned village of Aÿ, you can’t help but wonder if everyone who works here is a little crazy. This is the wine industry, and Champagne's maisons are famous for capitalistic pursuits. Yet at Bollinger, decisions seem to be focused between the bounds of science and artistic expression. Excellence is the priority, no matter the cost.

This pursuit of excellence began with Madame Bollinger. Of course, there were a slew of men who’d established and expanded the estate over the century before her, but it was this 42-year-old widow who changed its destiny.

Maybe being widowed at the height of WWII inspired her to take nothing for granted. Each step in the production was held up to rigorous examination. Pressing, fermentation and aging vessels, blending components, closures for secondary fermentation, time sur latte, riddling and of course dosage levels. If it touched the juice or the wine, it was scrutinized.

For instance, she discovered that when aged up to 5 years — as Bollinger's Special Cuvée is, much longer than any other Maison’s non-vintage wine — the wine was best kept under a crown cap (like a beer top) before disgorgement. Any longer than that, and a natural cork was optimal. While expensive and laborious, it better protects the wine from oxygen, allowing it to age more gracefully for longer. All of the vintage wines only use cork.

Famously, the house's reserve wine is aged in a collection of 800,000 magnums, each under cork with a touch of sugar and yeast for freshness. The expense of materials and labor for this step is mind boggling. But it's a major component in the Special Cuvée blend because it continuously presents the best results.

Finally, this one of two houses to ferment entirely in oak (the other is Krug). Bollinger recently hosted a blind tasting of special bottles of Champagnes fermented in either stainless steel, 5-, 25-, or 50-year-old barrels. The differences were stark — the older the barrel, the better, for unbeatable mouthfeel and structure. To maintain their enormous stock of barrels (some are up to 100 years old), they employ an in-house cooper, the last property in the region to do so. Special Cuvée, again, benefits from this devotion to quality.

Bollinger is one of three family-owned Champagne houses, and has been making consistent and exceptional wines for generations. We spend a lot of time extolling the virtues of Champagne’s fast-changing grower movement that we sometimes forget to appreciate what has been in front of us all along. Today, we celebrate Bollinger's commitment to their art form, no matter how crazy their methods may seem.

Professional Reviews

Antonio Galloni

AG 97
"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." -Vinous

Robert Parker

RP 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." -Robert Parker

Wine Spectator

WS 96
"Enticing hints of toasted cumin, ground anise and graphite waft from the glass of this harmonious, mouthwatering version, accenting the finely meshed flavors of crushed black currant, poached apricot, grilled nut and lemon curd. The texture shows a lovely viscosity, extending the flavor range on the lasting finish. This marries Bollinger’s signature richness with the 2008 vintage’s luxurious textural character and steely backbone of acidity. Though the house does not adhere to a strict release schedule, chef de cave Gilles Descôtes, who started at Bollinger as vineyard manager in 2003 before his promotion to head winemaker in 2013, decided to hold the 2008 Grande Année. The cuvée is typically aged seven to nine years before release, depending on the vintage’s character. Descôtes said the 2008’s ‘impressive freshness’ is what made him wait a full 11 years before launching this classic Pinot Noir–dominant blend."

Wine Enthusiast

WE 95
"This is the producer’s equivalent of a 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."

Details

  • Grape Variety

    Chardonnay

  • Vintage

    2008

  • Size

    1.5L

  • Farming Practice

    Traditional

  • Style

    Earthy , Fruity , Minerally

  • Sweetness

    Champagne Brut , Dry

  • Body

    Light Bodied

Customer Reviews

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