Bollinger R.D. 2008 Champagne.
Amidst the Houses of Champagne, the name Bollinger resonates with a profound legacy of viticulture and winemaking. With the release of their R.D. 2008, Champagne Bollinger once again cements its reputation for creating champagnes that are not merely wines but stories bottled within the confines of glass and cork. The R.D. 2008 is a celebration of Bollinger’s winemaking prowess, a journey through time and taste that honors both tradition and innovation.
The R.D. 2008, a brilliant golden elixir, represents the culmination of a vintage that has defied the odds. It is an ode to the meticulous care and patient nurture of vineyards, a toast to the delicate balance of freshness and maturity. With the house’s unwavering commitment to excellence, each bottle of R.D. 2008 disgorged is a narrative of resilience, a chronicle of the meticulous blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The result is a champagne that offers a complex olfactory bouquet and a palate that sings with precision and intensity.
Dutch Wine Apprentice founder Niels Aarts, delves into the depths of this champagne, articulating its journey from grape to glass, revealing how Bollinger R.D. 2008 secures its place in the pantheon of timeless vintages. With a DWA score of 99 points, it stands as a paragon of the craft, a testament to the vision of Madame Bollinger, and a treasure now available to connoisseurs through select partners and, notably, at the prestigious De Lindehof restaurant in the Netherlands. The R.D. 2008’s story is one of triumph, a tale best savored one sip at a time.
About Champagne Bollinger
Founded in 1829, Champagne Bollinger stands as a beacon of tradition and quality in the Champagne region of France. This prestigious house, with nearly two centuries of winemaking heritage, has consistently produced wines that are not only refined and complex but also deeply reflective of its commitment to the art of Champagne making.
At the heart of Bollinger’s identity is its unmistakable style, a testament to the house’s dedication to the Pinot Noir grape. This style is a perfect amalgamation of strength, sophistication, and a complex flavor profile that brings out the full spectrum of fruit aromas. The essence of this style lies in the balance between the robustness of Pinot Noir and the freshness of Chardonnay, combined with the creamy effervescence achieved through oak barrel vinification and extended yeast contact.
The vineyards of Bollinger are as storied as the house itself. Spread across 179 hectares, with a significant portion classified as Grand and Premier Crus, these vineyards are the cornerstone of Bollinger’s exceptional quality. The house’s commitment to tradition is exemplified in its maintenance of two unique plots, Clos Saint-Jacques and Chaudes Terres, which have remained untouched by the phylloxera plague. These vines are cultivated using age-old techniques, contributing to the rare Vieilles Vignes Françaises cuvée.
Bollinger’s devotion to Pinot Noir is not just a choice but a hallmark of its identity. This grape, demanding in its cultivation, is central to the character of Bollinger’s wines, contributing depth, power, and a distinctive vinosity. It’s this grape that forms the majority of Bollinger’s plantings and is a key component of its renowned Special Cuvée.
The essence of Bollinger, however, extends beyond its vineyards and vintages. It’s embodied in the “Bolly family” spirit, a shared passion for fine wines that unites everyone associated with the house. This spirit is evident in the historic streets of Aÿ, where past and present merge seamlessly, from the rolling of barrels along the cobbled streets to the preservation of Madame Bollinger’s house.
The Story behind Bollinger’s R.D.
Bollinger’s R.D. Champagne is a testament to the harmonious blend of tradition and innovation within the effervescent world of Champagne. The inception of this revered cuvée dates back to 1963 when Madame Bollinger and her American agent set out to create a champagne that could stand toe-to-toe with the prestigious “bouteilles spéciales” of their competitors. Their ingenious strategy involved selecting a mature vintage and recently disgorging it, then dosing it as an Extra Brut to ensure a freshness akin to younger wines.
Unlike other houses that produced “prestige cuvées” as their highest quality offerings, Bollinger considered all its wines to be of exceptional quality. This philosophy meant they didn’t need a separate prestige label, which could potentially detract from their other products. Instead, they focused on maintaining excellence across their range, a commitment that ultimately gave rise to the R.D. concept.
The cuvée was officially launched as Bollinger R.D. in 1967, with the initial offerings being the remarkable vintages of 1952, 1953, and 1955. These vintages, especially the 1955 which was released in the United States and Italy, were pivotal in catapulting Bollinger R.D. to global acclaim, not just for its novel production technique but for its exceptional taste profile as well.
The allure of Bollinger R.D. lies in its unique duality; it presents the freshness of a new wine while delivering the intricate, mature aromas that only aging can provide. Extra Brut dosing highlights the wine’s pure taste and structural finesse. This juxtaposition of freshness and maturity is the cornerstone of Bollinger R.D.’s charm and solidifies its status as a timeless icon in the world of Champagne, offering a tasting experience that captures a wide spectrum of sensations in a single bottle.
About the R.D. 2008
The Bollinger R.D. 2008, disgorged in 2022, is a remarkable expression of the artistry and patience inherent in world-class winemaking. Its story begins with its visual appeal, a captivating dance of golden reflections that hints at the richness within. This champagne not only embodies the Bollinger house’s commitment to excellence but also represents the epitome of a vintage that has braved the whims of nature to emerge triumphant.
At its introduction the Bollinger R.D. 2008 greets the senses with an olfactory tapestry rich in complexity. The nose is a delightful interplay of contrasting and complementary aromas. There’s the sweet richness of marzipan and stewed apricots, intertwined with the comforting warmth of honey. These are beautifully offset by the zesty freshness of bergamot, creating an intriguing balance. Underlying these initial notes is a deeper layer of savory breadcrumbs.
The palate experience of the R.D. 2008 is where the true artistry of Bollinger’s craftsmanship shines through. Each sip begins with a rich, precise mousse that tantalizes the tongue, paving the way for a burst of vibrant citrus notes. These initial zesty flavors gradually give way to the richer, more rounded notes of Mirabelle plums and vine peaches, creating a tapestry of flavors that are both vivacious and elegantly structured. The champagne then unfolds further, revealing an intriguing juxtaposition of fresh hazelnut flavors against a backdrop of salinity. This combination creates an intense, lingering finish that is both satisfying and thought-provoking.
The assembly of this champagne—a meticulous blend of 71% Pinot Noir and 29% Chardonnay from 18 different crus—is a testament to Bollinger’s mastery over the art of blending. The choice of crus, including Aÿ and Verzenay for Pinot Noir and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Cramant for Chardonnay, coupled with fermentation entirely in oak barrels, imparts the R.D. 2008 with its distinctive character. The low dosage of just 3 grams per liter, a signature of the R.D. line, ensures that the innate qualities and freshness of the wine are at the forefront, unmasked by excessive sweetness.
The journey of the 2008 viticultural year is a narrative of triumph over adversity. The year was marked by unpredictable weather, with cool spring temperatures lingering into the summer. However, the return of the sun in time for the harvest played a crucial role in defining the vintage’s character. The resulting yield was bountiful, particularly for Pinot Noir, lending the R.D. 2008 its richly aromatic profile. The Chardonnays were lively and powerful, while the Pinot Noirs were characterful and well-balanced, reflecting the expertise and knowledge of Maison Bollinger in navigating the challenges presented by nature.
Bollinger R.D. 2008 offers two distinct tasting experiences. Enjoyed immediately post-disgorgement, it showcases a specific aromatic range with complex fruity notes that highlight the freshness and immediacy of the wine. Alternatively, allowing the champagne to mature in the cellar for several more years reveals the depth of aromas characteristic of the finest vintages, a testament to the wine’s exceptional aging potential.
In sum, the Bollinger R.D. 2008 is not just a champagne but a narrative of resilience, skill, and vision. It stands as a benchmark for the decade, comparable to the lauded 1996 vintage but surpassing it in integration and harmony upon release. Serving it at a temperature of 12°C allows one to fully appreciate the evolution of its complex aromas, whether enjoyed immediately or after years of maturation.
This champagne is a brilliant realization of Madame Bollinger’s visionary spirit, offering a timeless vintage that beautifully encapsulates the essence of patience and the rewards it brings. We award this icon and part of Champagne’s history, with a 99-point DWA score.
This review is written by our own Niels Aarts. The R.D. is produced and released in very limited numbers (only 1% of the total Bollinger production). Importer Verbunt Verlinden is the proud importer of this iconic Champagne, as well as the rest of the Bollinger portfolio, in the Netherlands. The R.D. is available through selected retail and hospitality partners.
In December Michelin Restaurant De Lindehof (2 stars), by Chef Soenil Bahadoer, has the honor and privilege to offers the R.D. 2008 per glass in their restaurant, being the first restaurant world-wide to open the door to this Champagne icon for a wider audience.
You can read more about this rare opportunity in our upcoming article.
Taste date: November 2023
Score: 99/100 DWA Score
Website: Champagne Bollinger