The Person: Gilles Descôtes (Bollinger’s Cellar Master).
The Place: Champagne (OK, I could be more specific but then “Bond … James Bond” – who loves Bollinger – would have to kill you.)
According to the Bollinger web-site, 2004 was a delicate year in Champagne. It started with a dry winter and spring but a cold, wet August. The grapes were picked during a warm “Indian summer.” With the 1976 vintage, “Bollinger Vintage” was renamed “Bollinger Grande Annee.” In 2004, it became “Bollinger La Grande Année.” I would say that 2004 was an eventful year for Bollinger which happens to have produced a lovely vintage Champagne that has many years of improvement in front of it. As it ages, the score can only go up.
BOLLINGER La Grande Annee Brut, Champagne, 2004 ($114.94)
A 12% alcohol, fully sparkling blend of 66% Pinot Noir and 34% Chardonnay from 16 sites (88% grand cru and 12% premier cru). Barrel fermented in small oak casks and aged sur-lie in cask before the methode champenoise was applied to the cuvee. Aged en tirage until it was disgorged in November of 2012 and given a .7% sugar dossage (quite dry). Yellow straw in color and fully sparkling; dry, medium-full-bodied with fresh acidity and scant phenolics. This is lovely, rich luxury Champagne that is still developing with a supple feel in the mouth. Offers a fine mix of layered red fruit and citrus integrating with the toasty-yeast and nutty oak component and mineral terroir. Complete and delicious but with lots of positive evolution still to come. Beautiful in the glass and in the mouth. Give this some extra time in the glass; it’s one of those. BearScore: 97.