I am a big fan of sparkling wine and for our second anniversary last month, my husband – after some not so subtle hints – treated me to a bottle of Vintage Bollinger – La Grande Année 2000. Which is quite fitting seen as though it is 10 years since we first got together.
Bollinger is an independent Champagne house, whose house style is famed for the dominance of Pinot Noir in its blends, providing a richness, strength and concentration not found in Chardonnay dominated blends, which are generally lighter and more elegant in style.
Only sparkling wine made within the geographic Champagne appellation can be called Champagne. Other sparkling wines made by the same traditional method (or méthode champenoise as it used to be known, before the EU forbade this description) but from outside the Champagne region cannot use the Champagne term. Instead you’ll see Crémant for traditional method sparkling wine produced in France, but outside of Champagne, Cava in Spain and Cap Classique in South Africa.
Each village in Champagne is graded on a percentage scale according to the quality of the grapes. Seventeen of the very best villages, rated 100%, are known as Grands Crus and there are 43 Premier Crus villages which each have a rating between 90-99%. The lowest rating of all is 80% often found outside the real heart of Champagne – I’m betting many of the supermarket own brand labels and the cheaper Champagnes source many of the grapes from here.
All of the grapes from Bollinger La Grande Année come from the very best vineyards, 16 crus in total have been used in the blend of La Grande Année 2000 – over three quarters of which are Grands Crus.
Considering most UK Champagne consumption is of Non Vintage (a Champagne made from a blend of wines from different years) bottles, is it worth splashing out extra for a vintage bottle??? In my opinion, oh hell yeah!
Bollinger La Grande Année is one special bottle. Only made during the very great vintages it bills itself as a ‘rare and memorable experience for any wine connoisseur’ although I think the consumer comment on the Majestic website sums it up perfectly ‘Just beautiful. Try before you die’.
It is a fantastic golden colour, perhaps from age as well as the time spent in oak. It has been fermented in small, aged oak barrels to avoid overpowering the wine with oak aromas and oak tannins but to help to slowly oxidise the wine and allow it to age better and build up more complex aromas.
The Bollinger La Grande Année has intense, rich, complex aromas, a good weight and body and a deliciously long, toasty finish. It is simply a beautiful wine and one worth the expense for those extra-special occasions.
Inspired by Gourmet Chick’s recent trip, I’m hoping hubby will go one better next year and take me to Champagne itself for our third anniversary. Fingers crossed!
Champagne Direct £49.95