Barrel-fermented vintage Champagne.
Aged over 9 years on the yeasts.
The Champagne of James Bond.
The Champagne of Lily Bollinger (see quote below).
BOLLINGER La Grande Annee Brut, Champagne, 2002 ($126.99)
A 12.3% alcohol blend of 6% Pinot Noir and 34% Chardonnay from all Grand and Premier Cru vineyards. 100% underwent primary fermentation in small oak casks. Disgorged November of 2012 so over 9 years on the lees.
Gold-straw in color and fully-sparkling; dry, medium-full-bodied with fresh acidity and scant (but present) phenolics. Lovely, rich, developed. Supple feel. Fine mix of toasty layered red fruit and citrus but the complete integration of the whole including the toasty-yeast and mineral terroir is the amazing thing here. Stunningly good Champagne that continues to develop in the glass for as long as you can keep some in your glass. BearScore: 98+.
(A rerun of maybe the best Champagne quote ever)
I only drink champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not in a hurry and drink it when I am, otherwise I never touch the stuff unless I am thirsty. – Madame Lily Bollinger
Standing in the door of a garage, just off the street on a back road in the Vallee de la Marne west of Epernay in Champagne, I tasted a wine so good, I almost didn’t buy it when I got back because I didn’t think it could be as good as what I remembered. This vintage Champagne had been aging en triage for over 20 years and had just been disgorged as we stood and watched. It had no dosage and was “cave” temperature … and it was brilliant. Suffice to say, I finally bought some, disgorged to order and finished with no dosage. It has now come in and I have gotten to taste, or rather drink from a couple of bottles. WOW! Every bit as good as I had remembered.
JP MARNIQUET Prestige Champagne, 1989 ($101.99)
An estate-bottled, vintage blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir grown in the Vallee de la Marne and aged en tirage (on the lees of the bottle fermentation) until it was disgorged in the late spring of 2013. This disgorgement is un-dosed so the flavors and richness and balance all come from the vintage and those long years of cold, slow development in Marniquet’s cave. So how does it taste? Amazing. This is rich, developed, complete, complex Champagne with great length and purity. It is hard to describe the flavors. The first taste is like the last sip of one of the best bottles you have ever tasted and it builds from there. Toasty, rich, elegant but with an ever-changing mix of both fresh and dried fruit. The chalk-mineral-earth of Champagne is present but fully integrated. This is a wine you want to spend some time getting to know. Drink it from wine glasses rather than Champagne flutes. Sip it with richer foods or indulge in it in lieu of dessert. Lovely in the mouth. BS: 100
“A party without Champagne is just a meeting.” (with apologies to Julia Child who said “cake” but probably wishes she’d said “Champagne.”
Please check the EVENTS PAGE for an upcoming WINE 101 class and our annual CRU CLASSÉ BORDEAUX TASTING featuring the 2011 vintage.