From Bollinger Millésime’ to ‘Grande Année’ & ‘La Grande Année’ 2015-1921

Picture of Björnstierne Antonsson

Björnstierne Antonsson

Vintage Bollinger which has become one of the milestones in the champagne empire with its masculine oxidative rumbling style. The pinot-dominated wines are nutty and chocolaty and fermented in oak barrels. Every vintage is fantastic and even though they are good for storage, you can drink them as soon as they are released on the market. The most legendary vintages are 1995, 1985, 1973, 1966 and 1945. [read the full champagne story] 

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

1.      1945 Bollinger ‘Millésime’ 98[99]p
2.      1966 Bollinger ‘Millésime’ 98[98]p
3.      1921 Bollinger ‘Millésime’ 97[97]p
4.      1928 Bollinger ‘Millésime’ 97[97]p
5.      1929 Bollinger  ’Millésime’ 97[97]p
6.      1959 Bollinger  ’Millésime’ 97[97]p
7.      1934 Bollinger ’Millésime’ 96[96]p
8.      1964 Bollinger ’Millésime’ 96[96]p
9.      1969 Bollinger ’Millésime’ 96[96]p
10.   1973 Bollinger ’Millésime’ 96[96]p
11.   1985 Bollinger ‘Grande Année’ 96[96]p
12.   1996 Bollinger ‘Grande Année’ 96[96]p 
13.   1999 Bollinger ‘La Grande Année’ 96[96]p
14.   2002 Bollinger ‘La Grande Année’ 96[96]p
15.   2014 Bollinger ‘La Grande Année’ 94[96]p
16.   1962 Bollinger  ’Millésime’ 95[95]p
17.   1979 Bollinger ‘Millésime’ 95[95]p
18.   1988 Bollinger ‘Grande Année’ 95[95]p
19.   1995 Bollinger ‘Grande Année’ 95[95]p
20.   2008 Bollinger ‘La Grande Année’ 94[96]p
21.   1953 Bollinger ‘Millésime’ 94[94]p
22.   1975 Bollinger  ’Millésime’ 94[94]p
23.   2000 Bollinger ‘La Grande Année’ 94[94]p
24.   2015 Bollinger ‘La Grande Année’ 93[95]p
25.   2012 Bollinger ‘La Grande Année’ 93[94]p
26.   1970 Bollinger ‘Millésime’ 93[93]p
27.   1982 Bollinger ‘Millésime’ 93[93]p
28.   2005 Bollinger ‘La Grande Année’ 93[93]p
29.   1990 Bollinger ‘Grande Année’ 92[93]p
30.   2007 Bollinger ‘La Grande Année’ 92[93]p
31.   1983 Bollinger ‘Grande Année’ 92[92]p
32.   1989 Bollinger ‘Grande Année’ 92[92]p
33.   1992 Bollinger ‘Grande Année’ 92[92]p
34.   1955 Bollinger ‘Millésime’ 90[90]p
35.   1961 Bollinger ‘Millésime’ 90[90]p
36.   1976 Bollinger ‘Millésime’ 87[87]p
37.   1952 Bollinger ‘Millésime’ 80[80]p
38.   1947 Bollinger ‘Millésime’ 80[80]p
39.   1952 Bollinger ‘Millésime’ 80[80]p
1949 Bollinger ‘Millésime’ [0]p
1937 Bollinger ‘Millésime’ [0]p
1923 Bollinger ‘Millésime’ [0]p

2015 Bollinger ‘La Grande Année’
Aÿ Grand Cru

95 points

Tasting note – Oh, is it already time for another vintage of this gem? Amazing how fast time goes. 2015 is generally a problematic vintage with heat stress and a period of drought. It is no art to get richness and power in the wines, but elegance and freshness are rare.

Because Bollinger’s house style is inherently so masculinely powerful, Bollinger’s eminent team focused on preserving freshness first and foremost. According to head de caves Denis Bunner, Bollinger felt that the grapes they had access to gave more typicity and greater elegance to the chardonnay this time. Hence a slightly higher content of the green grape than in the original recipe. Perhaps even more important was the choice of Avize and Verzenay as engines.

Verzenay behaves in many ways like chardonnay with its chalky elegance and great purity. This time the shares of Aÿ and Verzenay were equal, for the sake of unusualness. Fat Cramant and Oger were now downplayed and Avize was primarily supported by tight Chouilly. An interesting detail that reduces tannin, clumsiness and contributes to an increased sense of freshness is, oddly enough, oak barrels. This is due to its great age and the company’s strict selection of the best casks that only provide microoxidation.

The color is already deep golden with a fine stream of tiny bubbles fighting their way up through the glycerol-rich concentrated wine. Intense and rich and at the same time nuanced and complex. The smallconcentrated grapes ultimately produced an ultimate gastronomic masterpiece. The scent cannonade is classic Bollinger, but fresh and more nuanced than I expected from the vintage. Stone fruits, honeysuckle, honey, plum marmalade, Cox Orange, raspberry, almond, hazelnut, leather, tanned skin, cigar, and duck liver are all clear instruments in the orchestra playing their richly generous vintage anthem.The freshness does not come from acid this time, but from lack of water, water stress, and concentrated extracts in a similar way to the even more extreme 2003. In the finish I find tobacco, forest and chocolate with sea salt, a delicious combination. Precisely the saltiness and the slightly higher tannin content contribute to making this a perfect partner for poultry in all its forms.


According to Champagne Club by Richard Juhlin

After a cold and rainy winter, we had to rely on a brilliant sunny start to the summer. Fortunately, some rain fell in August, and when the harvest was salvaged in perfect conditions in September, very fine wines could be looked forward to despite very low acidity.

There are similarities here with 1947, so a long life despite the low acidity and the fat fruit cannot be ruled out. In fact, the vintage is one of the three warmest in a hundred years. I have been most impressed so far by some insanely clean and lusciously modern wines from pure pinot meunier with Maillart Mont Martin from Villers-Allerand as the biggest star. Keep your eyes open for wines from Marnedalen in particular. The leader right now is the 2015 Bollinger P.N. Verzenay and Marguet Ambonnay La Grande Ruelle.

1976 Bollinger ’Millésime’

Aÿ Grand Cru

97 poäng

Tasting note TheChampagneSommelier – Debut vintage of ‘Grande Année’. The name ‘La Grande Année’ was launched with the 1997 vintage. Guess if I jumped when the bottle was revealed at a blind tasting! If someone like me grew up in the 70s, most of us remember the incredibly hot summer of 1976. How many of us Swedish children stood in the afternoons hitting tennis balls on the garage door and playing Björn Borg vs Ilie Nastase [ROU], Guillermo Vilas [ARG] or Roscoe Tanner [USA] ?

Interesting that water stress characterized this extremely warm vintage as well. Flowering took place between the 10th and 15th of June, the harvest began 84 days later, on the 1st of September. The grapes were generally very ripe and of sound quality, further to a very hot and dry summer that allows us to achieve high alcohol levels (from 10° to 12°).

Grapes come only from Grands crus and Premiers crus. Normal blend of 65 percent Pinot Noir and 35 percent Chardonnay. 70% of the grapes come from Bollinger’s own vineyard, which guarantees the consistency and quality of its wines. 16 crus were included in the 1976 blend, with 83% Grands crus and 17% Premiers crus. These were mainly from Aÿ, Bouzy, Tauxières, Verzenay, Cuis, Grauves, Oger and Chouilly.

In good or exceptional years, a large part of Bollinger’s wines ferments in small oak barrels (205, 225 or 400 litres), lot by lot, cru by cru, grape variety by grape variety. Only old barrels are used, to ensure that neither tannin nor oak flavors are added to the wines. This technique increases both the aromatic complexity and storage capacity of such wines.

In the glass? This is what Bollinger is all about. The color is deep, and the concentrated, glycerol-rich champagne forms clear »bones« along the edges of the glass. The fragrance combines weight with complexity. Today full-bodied and crunchy with rich bready, nutty and chocolate-saturated tones. A classic Bollinger with its sweet honey fruit. However, not at all the same resilience and purity as large R.D. bottles, but damn what a great champagne! If you find a completely freshly disgorged vinothèque bottle directly from Bollinger, the score skyrockets.


A bumper crop of sun-ripened grapes initially produced slightly porky and extract-rich Champagnes reminiscent of the 1947s and 1959s but rarely quite living up to the greatness of those years. Quite often you could find a smoky biton in the taste through the fatty oily structure. However, the vintage is one of those that has developed most positively in the last ten years, and today this is one of my favorite vintages to open at home and enjoy in big buttery sips. Louis Roederer Cristal, Dom Pérignon, Billecart-Salmon and Salon are all delicious wines that have managed to avoid clumsiness in this year of heat. The most enjoyable of all are De Venoge Des Princes and the inimitable Taittinger Comtes de Champagne!

According to Champagne Club by Richard Juhlin

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