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February 13, 2015

Bollinger La Grande Annee Blanc 2005

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Today we are delighted to be able to offer the long awaited and extremely exciting new vintage of Bollinger La Grande Annee Blanc, the 2005. We believe that of all the leading prestige cuvees on the market La Grande Annee offers the greatest value for money. The 2005 vintage was superb across Europe, although in Champagne the warm weather led to warmer riper flavours. Gilles Descotes the master winemaker at Bollinger has used these conditions to make something utterly superb. La Grande Annee Blanc is historically a Pinot dominant blend and in 2005 the Pinot Noir reaches 70%, with the remaining 30% Chardonnay. This is a decision that Richard Juhlin, the foremost critic in Champagne, finds very rewarding, I love when Bollinger leaves the Pinot Noir in the driving seat like this.’

Juhlin tasted the 2005 for the first time last month and has awarded it one of its highest scores ever, 95 points. We tasted it yesterday and agree wholeheartedly that this is a magnificent effort, with beautiful ripe fruit notes, baked apple, white flowers, particularly acacia; the 2005 is spicy with intense smokey finish. La Grande Annee is recognized as the most full-bodied vintage champagne, famed for smoky hazelnut complexity. In 2005 Juhlin believes they have taken this to another level, ‘The classic hazelnuttyness becomes Sicilian pistachio and nougat, the dark cocoa notes turns into pure heavenly milk chocolate.’

Moreover, the 2005 at first release price offers immense value compared to older vintages, providing a very investable vintage premium. It offers an incentive to buy at the beginning of its life-cycle, with older vintages rising in price quickly.  Its Price Over Points score when compared to its rival vintages is magnificent with a score of 40.

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In fact over the last 36 months the combined average case price of La Grande Annee Blanc 2004, 02, 96, 90 and 85 has risen 30%, this reflects its incredible value. Vintage Champagne – unlike most other premium wines – can be consumed as soon as it is released to market, the result is that stock of new vintages are diminished quickly. The leading names are hugely popular across the globe, meaning that as the wine ages in bottle, gaining complexity and increasing its value, less and less is available creating inherent price pressure. If you would like to read more about investing in Champagne please click here.

What makes Bollinger La Grand Annee truly special? 
The grapes are only sourced from Bollinger’s most exceptional plots with 95% deriving from their Grand Cru vineyards and 5% Premier Cru. The grape-must is fully barrel fermented in four to five year old Burgundy barrels they source from the Burgundy house Chanson, which Bollinger acquired in 1999. La Grand Annee Blanc undergoes a moderate dosage (adding sugar after disgorgement) of seven to eight grams per litre, they age on their lees in the cellar for a minimum of seven years, all stored at low pressure in magnums, a rarity even amongst the leading Champagne houses; moreover, all vintages are riddled by hand and exceptional feat. In their quest for excellence they also rest the Champagne for three to six months after disgorgement and the wine is sealed with natural cork.

History of Bollinger
Bollinger is one of the last remaining independent Champagne houses, established in 1829 in Ay, by Jacques Bollinger, (the Mayor of Ay) and Paul Renaudin. 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 cited 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 all their vineyard holdings 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. The first vintage of La Grande Annee Blanc was in 1976, making its screen debut in James Bond’s Casino Royale three decades later.

Bollinger La Grande Annee Blanc 2005 - 6×75 – £300 IB or £378.93 incl duty and VAT 
Richard Juhlin, Tasted January 2015
‘Aÿ and Verzenay are in full control. I love when Bollinger leaves the Pinot Noir in the driving seat like this. The sweet, flirty vintage is never really my cup of tea. But here its turned into an advantage. The classic hazelnuttyness becomes Sicilian pistachio and nougat, the dark cocoa notes turns into pure heavenly milk chocolate. Despite this obvious Nirvana of pleasure there is a great seriousity and sleeping animalistic power- Personally I am so impressed that I consider the wine fully mature from the release. A great Bollinger vintage indeed.’ 95 Points

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