Premier tasting of the new little brother of the ’Vieilles Vignes Françaises’ with deputy chef de cave Denis Bunner & general manager Charles-Armand de Belenet today.
mv Bollinger ’PN – VZ15’ [ base’15 – disgorged nov’19 ] | 92p
RICHARD JUHLIN TASTING NOTE ’Permanent new launches in Bollinger’s range are as rare as solar eclipses and it is of course with high expectations that I want to get to know this new wine, 50% of which has been vinified in oak barrels. The wine’s name is ’PN’ and will follow in many different editions in the future. The presentation is brilliant and is reminiscent of the house’s legendary blanc de noirs Bollinger ’Vieilles Vignes Françaises’. The first edition has the surname ’VZ 15’. A Verzenay blanc de noirs with sprinkles of Aÿ, Bouzy and Tauxières, where 50% of the wine comes from 2015 with reserve wines on magnum dating from 2009. Verzenay and Aÿ are, as you know, the dominant villages in Bollinger’s vintage wines. Verzenay is often the chalky and mineral-rich backbone of Bollinger’s vintage build-up. The wine is vibrantly fresh, mineral-driven and extremely pure. There is a clarity and sharpness that is outstanding, where gunpowder notes and aroma of grilled meat develop as the glass warms up slightly. I love this wine as it is a perfect creation from one of the most important villages in the whole of Champagne dominated by the aforementioned minerality, but also with notes of violet and red grapefruit so typical of Verzenay of the highest class. On aeration the scent develops more and more notes of pears, figs and freshly baked baguette and the taste develops towards peach and apricot jam. Personally, though, I will wait as long as I can before opening my own bottles to get the increasing depth of caramel and grilled hazelnut flavour that only time in the cellar can provide.’
RJ ON BOLLINGER Joseph Bollinger was the German from Würtemberg who founded this ancient house in 1829. The French called him simply “Jacques.” The firm’s large estates in the best Pinot villages were bought by his sons Georges and Joseph, and in 1918 it was time for the next Jacques to take over the property. He became the mayor of Aÿ, but died during the German occupation at the age of forty-seven. The most colorful person in the history of the house is his widow, Lily Bollinger, who kept a watchful eye on every bunch of grapes by cycling through the vineyards regularly. Her rigorous demands for quality still run through the house to this day. Now Bollinger is run by Jérôme Philipon, who control over 144 hectares, providing 70 percent of the grape supply. The winemaker today is Gilles Descôtes. Besides the house’s exceptional vineyards, they also use very expensive vinification methods. All the vintage wines are fermented in small, aged oak barrels and are never filtered. Malolactic fermentation—which would probably take place very late in the process—is not encouraged either. The reserve wines are stored at low pressure in magnums. Bollinger make the heaviest and most full-bodied champagnes of any house, and their wines always have a smoky and hazelnut-y complexity that is very hard to beat. The vintage wines are among the very best, but the question is whether the rare and fantastic Vieilles Vignes Françaises, made with grapes from non-grafted Pinot vines, can reach even greater heights. All wines highly recomended.