Whilst certainly not a period that the majority of us tend to look back on fondly, there was something about the year 2008 that made it a very special one for the vineyards of Champagne. Despite a cooler-than-usual spring and summer, the picking conditions in September (cold nights, bright, sunny days and minimal rain) ultimately proved ideal and the harvest miraculously resulted in some of the best vintages of the decade. Case in point: Bollinger’s La Grande Année 2008, launched at the end of last month to great acclaim after much anticipation from wine experts and amateurs alike.
All good things take time and this cuvée is no different. It has taken over 10 years for the full potential of the vintage to be achieved and the result is a complex and harmonious wine with an intensity expressed through aromas of citrus and soft fruits, berries and spices, floral and mineral notes. The unique, multifaceted flavour profile is thanks to the expertly precise combination of mature pinot noir and chardonnay grapes from 18 crus, predominantly Aÿ, Verzenay, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Cramant. In traditional fashion, vinification has occurred exclusively in small old oak barrels (20 years old on average), maintained in Bollinger’s cooperage, of which there are almost 3,500.
Adding distinction is the completely redesigned bottle, inspired by a curvaceous magnum-style bottle from 1846, with beneficial properties (narrower neck and wider base) for the quality of the wine. A new wooden box, demonstrating traditional artisanal methods of winemaking in barrels, encases the unique and precious bottle. Craftsmanship of the highest quality has permeated each process of La Grande Année 2008's creation: as Bollinger's revered Cellar Master Gilles Descôtes put it, “Producing every bottle of La Grande Année requires patience and precision, and is only possible thanks to the work of the men and women of Bollinger, whose artisanal methods have been passed down from generation to generation”.