Bollinger La Grande Annee Blanc 2012, follows on from the 2008 release last year. It is something very special indeed, a must for Champagne collectors and investors. La Grande Annee Blanc 2012 is a first introduction to this special vintage. It also speaks volumes about the material shortage of supply in the market, moving directly from the 2008 which sold out in one day, to 2012, which qualitatively it mirrors. The 2012 vintage is exceptional, the natural successor to the 2008. The vintage started with frost and hail, which reduced yields. From then on, the conditions were exemplary, with August and September outstanding, the Pinot Noir harvested and is viewed as the finest since 1952. The grapes were harvested with archetypal acidity and grape health.
So far La Grande Annee Blanc 2012 has only been scored by Richard Juhlin who has bestowed it 95 points, one less than the 2008. He is verbose and vibrant about the stellar quality saying ‘the wine is characterized by vitality and energy…The scent is beautifully house typical, dominated by apricot, almond, hazelnut and a smoky sophisticated intensity as from a newly lit outdoor fire. The attack is stunningly intense and the weight in the oral cavity leaves nothing left to wish for. Resilient energy and fullness are combined with greatness. Anyone who has patience will be rewarded with truffled flavor layers, chocolate saturated complexity and added exoticism of honeysuckle in the wine’s bouquet.’ We wanted to curtail his prose but that is a magical tasting note.
Since its release last March, the 2008 has risen 9%. Indeed, over the last five years the average price of Grande Annee has increased 26%. We expect a continuation of this and acceleration of the next four years – the smart money secures it on release. We can expect incredible scores from the other critics once they release, creating further buying pressure on a wine which will sell out quickly indeed. Priced at £440 per case of six today on release, it represents another brilliant champagne buy. The 2012’s score on release is its highest from Juhlin, other than the 2008 which trades at £480 per case. The 1996 which matches the 2012 in points trades at £900 per case. The 1996, 2008 and 2012 will go down as some of the greatest ever vintages made in Champagne.
The first vintage of La Grande Annee Blanc was in 1976, making its screen debut in James Bond’s Casino Royale three decades later. It is a blend of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay, aged entirely in barrels, which provides a hugely desirable smoke and toast to the Champagne. It is sourced from 21 crus: mainly Aÿ and Verzenay for the Pinot Noir, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Oiry for the Chardonnay.
History of Bollinger
Bollinger is one of the last remaining independent Champagne houses, established in 1829 in Ay, by Jacques Bollinger and Paul Renaudin and managed by the family since 1989. The vineyards date back as far as 1585 when they were run by the Hennequins, one of the Bollinger founding families. Bollinger today is still owned by the original founder’s descendants and has never been relocated. The 164 hectares used to make the superb Bollinger wines are sited in the very best position, with Montagne de Reims to the North, the Marne Valley to the South and the Cote de Blancs opposite. Bollinger can also boast that 85% of their vineyards are Grand Cru or Premier Cru and 70% of their grapes come from the Estate’s own vineyards.
The Bollinger style was established based on a predominance in Pinot Noir grapes and is one of the archetypical Champagnes for the very highest standards across their range. In 1884 Bollinger became the official supplier to the British Court, thereby receiving a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria. The Estate’s greatest expansion happened under the stewardship of Lily Bollinger, who ran the company between 1941 and 1977, travelling the world to promote the brand. Today the estate is managed by Lily Bollinger’s nephew, Ghislain de Montgolfier. Bollinger is known for producing weighty, muscular and powerful Champagnes.