Founded in 1829 by Jacques Bollinger, Paul-Joseph Renaudin and Admiral de Vilermont, the company came into it's own in the 20th century with Lily Bollinger at the helm. Bollinger's signature style was delveloped during Lily's tenure and it's rich, oak-aged, Pinot dominant style has many dedicated fans.
Bollinger R.D. – in gift 2007
2002 Bollinger R.D. – 2002 is the fiftieth anniversary of Bollinger’s staggering tour de force R.D. The bottle that I tasted was disgorged on 19 Sept 2013 (very much in keeping with its mantra of Récemment Dégorgé or Recently Disgorged). The freshness versus development axis of R.D. is what Bollinger strives for in every release of this monumental wine. In 2002 R.D. achieves this balance like no other vintage that I have ever tasted. When Lily Bollinger decided to release an older vintage, disgorged late rather than a current release préstige cuvée, like all of the other Houses, she created her own unique style of Champagne. R.D. is, of course, copied today but it is never bettered. Bollinger is, to my mind, defined by its beloved R.D. and it is this wine that fires my passions for this exemplary House and accordingly why I am such an unwavering disciple. The 2002 vintage is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. Of the 23 Crus used to assemble this cuvée 71% of them are Grand Cru. It is also important to mention that the dosage in R.D. is always kept purposefully low (3-4 g/L or residual sugar) – this gives it epic focus and tension. I attacked this wine in two distinctly different ways. Firstly, without food and secondly with roast chicken and chips – the benchmark gastronomic foil for ultra-high spec Champagne. The nose is nothing short of awesome. It shows remarkable restraint and focus in spite of its exotic florals, warm brioche and faint canelé notes, all straining to be let loose (this will happen with age). There is an impeccably clean and sleek chassis here, very long, tubular and with great density of flavour. It travels across the tongue like a powder-coated titanium lozenge rather than a broader, antique, galleon of years gone by. The finish brings the senses back to familiar R.D. territory with a whoosh of bitter orange and honey. While this lithe, muscular wine seems to be lighter than past vintages it isn’t. It is an illusion. 2002 R.D. is fit to burst with nervous energy. This is, in effect, the ultimate ‘catapult wine’. Bollinger pulls the rope back during the aging process and then releases the payload, hurling the flavour forward on release. All too often préstige cuvée Champagnes are slack and lacking in momentum. 2002 R.D. is going somewhere fast. All you have to do is flick the catch. Later on, when I drank it with chicken and chips, the flavour responded immediately and brought it alive with terrific vivacity and increased horse power. There is a power to weight ratio in this vinous work of art that no other white wines on the planet can match. As the wine opened up, layers and layers of fruit emerged, swathed in musky scent and wild honey. This is a classic R.D. with a remarkably reined-in introduction and a rip-roaring final handshake.
– Matthew Jukes 19.5+/20