Robert Parker – 97
Bollinger’s 2008 La Grande Annee 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 Annee built for the cellarâ€”the real excitement will come with a bit more bottle ageâ€”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 Annee to be bottled in Bollinger’s new narrower-necked 1846 bottle, which should make for a slower evolving wine.
Anticipated maturity: 2022-2060
JancisRobinson.com – 18/20
Disgorged June 2018. This of course was a more considered tasting, at the London launch of the wine, than during the blind tasting described below. Dense nose with some of the really dry Bollinger savour on the palate. This is a wine, like so many Bollingers, that really needs time in the glass to open out ” and indeed time in the bottle to develop to its full potential. This is an extremely dry-tasting wine, even though the dosage was 8 g/l, higher than usual because of the extremely low pH, 2.92. Very Bollinger but, for the moment, by no means a charmer. Initially (and in the blind tasting on 29 March 2019) I thought the wine lacked a bit of persistence, but in fact it is a particularly slow burner and developed a sort of peacock’s tail effect long after swallowing. This encourages me to think it will eventually be a fine wine but I would cellar it for quite a while. At the London launch at The Ledbury, we were given a chance to taste the wine from bottle, then magnum, then jeroboam with successive courses, the two bigger formats having been disgorged in November 2018. Each time the wine seemed ever crisper and tauter, with the magnum sample (perhaps poured from a just-opened magnum?) so powerfully fumy that it had a whiff of cordite. As chef de cave Gilles Descotes observed, if he’d been served the jeroboam blind, he might have taken the wine for a Blanc de Blancs…
Anticipated maturity: 2020-2035
Vinous – 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.
Anticipated maturity: 2020-2048