Parker-William Kelley 94, 2019-2037,
Containing some 6% red wine from Bollinger's La Côte aux Enfants vineyard, the 2007 La Grande Année Rosé offers up a complex bouquet of dried orange peel, walnuts, confit lemon and crisp orchard fruit. On the palate, it's medium to full-bodied, chalky and structured, with bright acids and a more overtly phenolic chassis than its white counterpart, concluding with a long, delicately nutty finish.
There are plenty of projects afoot at Bollinger, as chef des caves Gilles Descotes explained to me during my early April visit—my first in some years to this important Aÿ-based domaine. One of the most important changes is that Bollinger has entirely abandoned the use of herbicides for four years now, an initiative that began with the impulse to rehabilitate their famed red wine monopole, La Côte aux Enfants, and which was gradually rolled out across all their holdings. Their facilities have expanded too, to make space for more barrels to insure a sufficiently abundant supply of wood-fermented base wine from the Special Cuvée in years when Grande Année is also produced. And the still red Coteaux Champennois from La Côte aux Enfants is returning to the range, from 2015 vinified separately from the red wines destined to rosé production, with some whole clusters added to the cuves. Descotes also has been working to better manage Bollinger's gently oxidative style, and while fermentation and maturation in old wood still lends Bollinger its strong and distinctive style, oxygen inputs at other stages in the winemaking process are more carefully controlled, resulting in more consistency and structural tension—a trend exemplified by the brilliant 2008 Grande Année (97+), which I reviewed last month. There's so much more to say about this house, but much of that can wait for an in-depth article in a future issue. For the time being, it's sufficient to note that all these recent releases come warmly recommended.
Parker-Stephan Reinhardt 96, 2021-2032,
A blend of 72% Pinot Noir (mainly from Aÿ and Verzenay) with 28% Chardonnay (Cramant and Oger), Bollinger's 2007 La Grande Année Rosé Brut is a rich and powerful yet fresh and tightly woven Champagne that gets its characteristic coral color from the addition of 6% red Côte aux Enfants Pinot Noir from Aÿ. Fermented entirely in barrels and aged under natural cork, the 2007 offers a chalky-pure and matured bouquet of redcurrants, green figs, dark chocolate, minty and dried floral expressions. Very fresh and elegant on the palate, this is a full-bodied, dense, complex and structured rosé with a long, intense and well-structured finish that reveals the youthful soul of this fresh and chalky 2007. This is a long-distance runner and surely a wine to have with poultry dishes such as duck or pigeon. It will strongly benefit from further bottle aging. Tasted in May and June 2018 from lot L1733457 that was disgorged in November 2016.
I have tasted an excellent, beautifully fresh, precise and and persistent range of Bollinger Champagne. The Brut Rosé is just fabulous and helps to bridge the time we have to wait for the promising and highly refined 2007 Grande Année Rosé that still needs some years in the bottle to play out its class and complexity. 2007 saw a very early harvest, and the exceptional wines are characterized by freshness and finesse. For the moment, I prefer the very fine, elegant and chalky style of the Grande Année Rosé to the more rich and full-bodied Blanc. I'm also excited to follow the evolution of the 2004 R. D. Extra Brut that was just disgorged in February and combines freshness with maturity but will improve over the years. The 2014 La Côte aux Enfants, a 12% alcohol Pinot Noir from Aÿ, is a filigreed red Coteaux Champenois and is fabulous in its lightness, purity and elegance. However, it is still young and peppery and needs some years to gain more complexity.
Honey and roses with fresh almonds and an array of dried berries, amid deep, rich, toasted-nut, autolysis character. The palate has a bold array of rich, concentrated berry flavors in a fresh core, surrounded by a warming wrap of grilled hazelnuts. Roasted coffee to close. Terrific complexity. Drink now.