2012 Grande Année Brut Champagne Bollinger
|Grapes||Chardonnay, Pinot Noir|
Aromatic, rich pastry and brioche nose, touch of almond, citrus and some stone fruits, touch of creme anglaise. Palate has great lift and intensity, undoubted ripeness, rich citrus and peach, juicy and bright, creamy and a touch nutty, with that note of brioche bringing richness to the finish. An open and immediately attractive style. L&S (Feb 2020)
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65% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay; 78% grand crus, 22% premier crus; 21 crus, mainly Aÿ and Verzenay for Pinot Noir, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Oiry for Chardonnay; exclusive use of the cuvée; fermented entirely in barrels (average 20 years of age); aged under natural cork; riddled and disgorged by hand; 8g/L dosage; disgorged August 2019. The bombastic complexity that defines Bollinger rises to a grand and flamboyant crescendo in the mighty 2012 season. True to the vintage, it presents a medium straw hue, deeper in colour, tone and mood than the dynamic 2008 before it. The pure red and black cherries of ripe pinot noir from the grand slopes of Aÿ are masterfully toned by the perfume and energy of the north-east-facing hillside of Verzenay, backed by the citrus zest of Le Mesnil and Oiry chardonnay. It’s simultaneously ripe, juicy, zesty and tense, with fruit presence of tantalising beauty seamlessly fused with fine chalk minerality and an acid line of sensational drive, yet at every moment perfectly ripe and effortlessly integrated. Fruit rightly takes a confident lead here, with the fig, spice, honey and roast almond of barrel fermentation and bottle age welling up in a rising background chorus. The modern era of Bollinger’s attentiveness in the vineyards and cellar characterises a style ever more pure and seamless. This does nothing to diminish the multifaceted layers of signature Bollinger complexity. Indeed, it somehow manages to achieve precisely the opposite, magnifying and focusing its myriad details with greater clarity than ever. This serves to present the mood of the season with more articulate typicity than ever, while celebrating all of the rumbling depth and power that we love of Bollinger. While it won’t live as long as the enduring 2008 (no house will) it achieves equal heights of fantastic line and incredible length. The result is consummately 2012, emphatically Bollinger and gloriously, irresistibly delicious. Rating: 98 Tyson Stelzer - TysonStelzer.com (Dec 2020)
The 2012 Grande Année is vibrant and wonderfully nuanced. Citrus peel, orchard fruit, brioche, dried flowers and chamomile are all finely knit in a Grand Année built on energy and persistence more than size. Readers will find a restrained Grand Année in 2012. There is plenty of the textural richness that is such a signature of the house style, but I am also struck by the wine's freshness. Best of all, the 2012 will drink well right out of the gate. It is quite expressive today, even in the early going. (Originally published in August 2020). Drinking range: 2020 - 2030 Rating: 94 Antonio Galloni, www.vinous.com (Nov 2020)
Wine Spectator's wine No. 10 of the year 2020.
Founded in 1829, Bollinger is one of Champagne’s few remaining grandes marques that’s entirely family-owned. Cellar master Gilles Descôtes was elevated to head winemaker in 2013. He blended the 2012 La Grande Année, a racy version that doesn’t hold back, deftly pairing an intense spine of acidity with an expressive range of flavors offered by the two-thirds Pinot Noir, one-third Chardonnay blend, sourced from premiers and grands crus vineyards. Following tradition, primary fermentation occurred in a mixture of 228- and 400-liter, neutral oak barrels. After blending and bottling for secondary fermentation, the 2012 aged in Bollinger’s cellars for six years before disgorgement in 2019.
This goes from zero to 60 right out of the gate, with an intense spine of acidity driving tightly meshed flavors of crushed black currant, ground coffee, candied grapefruit peel and toasted almond. The profile expands on the palate, carried by the fine, raw silk–like mousse. Richly aromatic and expressive from start to lasting, spiced finish. Disgorged July 2019. Drink now through 2037. Drinking range: 2020 - 2037 Rating: 97 Alison Napjus, The Wine Spectator (Nov 2020)
Jacques Bollinger, who was born at Ellwanger in the Kingdom of Wurtemberg, came to Champagne in 1822. In 1829, together with Hennequin de Villermont and Paul Levieux Renaudin, he founded the Champagne House of Bollinger Renaudin at Ay. The Bollinger family have managed the House ever since. Despite Paul Renaudin dying without issue, his name remained on the label until the 1960's. Pehaps the most famous member of the Bollinger family was "Lilly" Bollinger who married Jacques' great grandson and took over the Company when he died in 1941. She is responsible for the famous quote "I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it—unless I’m thirsty" Except in the very best vintages, only the first pressings are used (the rest being sold off) and Bollinger still carry out first fermentations in oak. Bollinger own around 160ha of vineyard which account for about 60% of their requirements. They are planted to about 60% Pinot Noir.
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