As I write this, the brand new James Bond movie No Time to Die has arrived to enchant moviegoers. Sadly, politicians with their border closures and different chaos have prevented attendance and as a long-term 007 fan that it hurts.
In fact, nothing goes with Bond like Bolly, so cracking the newest was some compensation. It could be very simple for me to spend a lot of this piece going by means of Bollinger’s lengthy 007 partnerships – with each the individuals and the movies – however each time a brand new Bond flick hits the screens, such data is well discovered.
Much more related I consider is that this new Bollinger launch. We aren’t speaking the PN VZ 15 or 16, which Bollinger not too long ago revealed; not even the Restricted Version Particular Cuvee launch that accompanies the movie; nor even the 2011 007 Restricted Version, which additionally accompanies the movie (speak about no stone left unturned).
Right here I’m wanting on the new Blanc de Noirs, the B13 from the 2013 classic (B13 stands for Bollinger 2013, which might be self-evident). However first, some context.
The place B13 suits within the Bollinger assortment
Bollinger is certainly one of many nice homes in Champagne and it has made some really memorable bottles. The Particular Cuvee (which is the multivintage, although in all probability extra extensively identified is the non-vintage regardless that multivintage makes a lot extra sense) is immaculate; the Grande Année (Bollinger’s classic) at all times thrilling; and the R.D. (“Lately Disgorged”) is without doubt one of the nice status champagnes. So sure, I’m a fan.
However Bollinger does have a behavior of developing with numerous particular choices, restricted editions, and one-offs, and I’m not positive that each one of them match the requirements Bollinger has set with its common wines (common within the sense of the champagnes talked about above). I’ve not tried it, however I ponder fairly why the home could be dabbling with a champagne from 2011, universally acknowledged because the least spectacular classic for round a decade.
This all began with the discharge of the 2003 by Bollinger. Removed from the worst champagne going round, it was nonetheless from the 2003 classic, so what on earth was one anticipating (silk purse/sow’s ear springs to thoughts)? I nonetheless don’t perceive what Bollinger thought it needed to acquire, however that’s prior to now.
“Removed from the worst” is hardly what one expects when one opens Bollinger.
So the place does the B13 match? That is one other curious one. The 2013 is undoubtedly a greater classic than 2003, however it isn’t universally liked (I heard the chef de cave from a really well-known home expressing the view that 2013 was très ordinaire certainly – at all times do not forget that homes supply from totally different areas and vineyards and so a yr that’s atypical for one could also be particular for an additional).
Even Bollinger itself has described the 2013 classic as “turbulent circumstances.” The final consensus appears that it’s wonderful for Chardonnay however much less thrilling for Pinot Noir. And B13 is a Blanc de Noirs – in different phrases, one hundred pc Pinot Noir.
It might sound as if Bollinger is preventing upstream already, however do not forget that that is the home that makes VVF (Vieilles Vignes Françaises, however virtually everybody merely calls it “VVF”). VVF is for a lot of probably the most legendary Blanc de Noirs made in Champagne. So if anybody is aware of how you can efficiently make this type, it’s Bollinger.
VVF is exclusive. It comes from two tiny plots – it was three, however one was successfully misplaced as I’ll clarify. The three plots totaled simply over one-third of a hectare and produced round 100 to 150 dozen 12-bottle instances (does something truly nonetheless are available in 12-bottle instances?). In complete. Given situations and requirements imply that it’s only made, say, three or 4 instances a decade. You may see why that is so uncommon and so hardly ever loved. And so costly.
What makes it particular is that these are ungrafted plots and therefore open to the risks of phylloxera, an aphid that arrived in Europe within the 1800s, an unwelcome visitor from the Americas. American vines had been proof against phylloxera however not the European. And so the aphid proceeded to start out chomping its manner throughout the continent, destroying prized vineyards because it went.
It regarded just like the European wine business is perhaps destroyed – a few of the concepts to stop its destruction of vines had been weird: flooding vineyards, having schoolchildren march out of sophistication and relieve themselves on the vines, burying a toad subsequent to each vine. In the long run, European wine was saved through the use of American rootstocks and grafting European vines onto them. There are very, only a few ungrafted vines to be discovered anyplace in Europe.
For causes of which Bollinger just isn’t fairly positive, or not disclosing, these tiny plots have remained phylloxera-free, though that third plot succumbed a number of years in the past, leaving simply two: Clos Chaudes Terres and Clos St.-Jacques. As a Blanc de Noirs, each plots are Pinot Noir. The wine, which has been made in appropriate vintages since 1969, is kind of extraordinary.
One other distinction is that the vines will not be planted as you’d usually count on in a winery. Quite, as younger vines they’re planted en foule, which principally signifies that they’re layered over one another in the best way that one might need discovered native vines centuries in the past. No trellising right here. The canes are merely bent over and pushed into the bottom to develop new roots for the following yr’s crop. So technically, regardless that vieilles means “outdated,” the vines are something however. The reference to “outdated” is to the tactic of rising the vines.
However B13 just isn’t the VVF.
In coping with this “turbulent” harvest, Bollinger has relied on the sustainable winery administration practices and moral farming practices that had been put in place effectively earlier than this classic. In 2012, Bollinger obtained the certification of Excessive Environmental Worth (HEV). In 2014, the home then obtained additional certification for its work on sustainable growth often called the Viticulture Sturdy en Champagne.
The situations encountered in 2013 actually don’t sound conducive to an amazing classic. A prolonged winter – one description of it was “by no means ending” – with each frosts and snow, a cool, moist spring, after which a highly regarded summer time, all of which meant a late harvest. The situations in summer time plus a cool October for the harvest saved the yr.
Bollinger is a Pinot home and its winery holdings are very a lot centered on the good Pinot Noir vineyards of the Montagne de Reims. Bollinger owns 178 hectares of vineyards, which offers round half of its wants, essential for a undertaking like this. It signifies that the home can establish and use grapes that attain the requirements required. That is why a home like Louis Roederer can so typically launch wines, together with Cristal, from vintages prevented by many: the staff just isn’t counting on anybody else for provide, and it is aware of whether or not or not the grapes will measure up. Greater than 90 p.c of the grapes utilized in B13 got here from Bollinger’s personal vineyards.
The small print of B13 are that it’s a Blanc de Noirs, therefore one hundred pc Pinot Noir. The grapes are sourced from 5 crus (three Grand Cru, two Premier); 92 p.c of the grapes come from Grand Cru vineyards, the rest from the 2 Premier Crus. Extra particularly, the wine is 52 p.c Verzenay, 25 p.c Ay, and 15 p.c Louvois, that are the Grand Crus. The eight p.c from the Premier Cru vineyards constituted one p.c Mareuil-sur-Ay and 7 p.c Avenay.
B13 spent seven years on lees and the dosage is six grams per liter. The associated fee will fluctuate around the globe – taxes, retailers, and so forth – however within the UK round £100 and in Australia AUD$250, give or take. For a home well-known for its use of magnums, it’s a little shocking that no magnums of B13 had been made. The label is each intelligent and enticing, whereas the elegant field during which it comes is each recyclable and largely produced from recycled supplies. In contrast to PN VZ 15, PN VZ 16, and their future incarnations, B13 will probably be a one-off.
Bollinger B13 tasting notes
So how did it style?
First up, that is chalk and cheese in comparison with one other Bolly one-off just like the 2003 (referencing chalk when discussing champagne may very well be complicated, however you understand what I imply). For me, this wine is head and shoulders a greater and extra pleasing wine.
A stunning pale, limpid gold. Opens with notes of quince and stone fruits. Cashews and orange rind. There’s a beautiful smoky notice right here that lingers all through. Already exhibiting good complexity, that is ripe and highly effective. There may be some toast already evident with wonderful focus and size. Heaps to love right here, however what it’s – overwhelmingly so – is a really advantageous instance of a Blanc de Noirs. Unmistakably so. Beautiful deep, cushiony texture.
That is no shrinking violet. Nobody goes to style this and begin considering how delicate, how elegant. It’s a massive, daring, full-of-flavor champagne. No prisoners. A stunning truffle notice emerged on the palate that jogged my memory very a lot of the truffle/fungal/mushroom notes that one typically finds in aged R.D.s. Ingesting splendidly effectively in the meanwhile, however you probably have the persistence there isn’t any motive to not put this away for a decade or extra. 95–96.
For extra data, please go to www.champagne-bollinger.com/fr/INT/la-collection-bollinger/cuvee/28.