Champagne Bollinger R.D. 2007 Launched

Champagne Bollinger R.D. 2007

© photo provided

Champagne Bollinger R.D. 2007

Champagne Bollinger R.D. 2007

© photo provided

R.D. - Récemment Dégorgé – or „late disgorged“– probably is the most emblematic bottling of Champagne Bollinger. It is down to Lily Bollinger herself that this style of Champagne – ground-breaking at the time – became popular. Its first iteration, the 1952 vintage, was released in 1967. Today, each new vintage release is eagerly awaited. 

Madame Lily Bollinger

Madame Lily Bollinger

© photo provided

Lily Bollinger ran the house from 1941-1971 and often hosted intimate dinner parties. After dinner, Bollinger would take her guests to the cellar where the cellar master was ready to disgorge one long-matured bottle of Champagne, still on its lees, by hand, à la vollée. This freshly disgorged wine was drunk there and then, in the cellar, without dosage. It was always delicious since the extra ageing had given roundness and suppleness to the wine –no dosage was needed to balance it. 

Ahead of Her Time

At a time when sugar dosages in Champagne were still far more generous than today, when many Grandes Marques vied with each other to create distinct bottle shapes, Lily Bollinger was only concerned with the quality of the actual wine. She wanted to share that intimate experience of the nocturnal cellar visit with the entire world and deliberately decided to hold bottles back. In 1967 she was ready to present the first release of this new style: it was the 1952 vintage which had matured on its lees for 14 years. The wine did have an Extra Brut dosage of less than 6g/l – less than half of what was common then – and the world had never tasted such a kind of Champagne before. 

Since both disgorgement date and vintage were stated on the label, Madame Bollinger demonstrated what long lees ageing, unclouded by added sweetness, could do. Champagne lovers immediately realised how special this was. Now, for the first time since 1967, Champagne Bollinger has decided to use the same font and once again print the disgorgement date on the front label. The wine is as special as ever because not every vintage, known at this house as Bollinger Grande Année, will be made into an R.D. 

Artisanship

All the base wines for Grande Année and Récemment Dégorgé are vinified in small, used oak barrels and the Champagnes themselves mature under natural cork, rather than under the usual crown cap. Each bottle is hand-riddled and hand-disgorged. As always at Bollinger, Pinot Noir plays the leading role. In the 2007 vintage of R.D. it is responsible for 70% of the blend, the rest is Chardonnay. Deputy cellar master Dennis Bunner was careful to note that a large proportion of that Pinot Noir was not from Bollinger’s home village of Aÿ but from Verzenay, another Grand Cru village in the Montagne de Reims. 

The 2007 vintage was a challenge: the rainfall just before the harvest demanded the most stringent selection of grapes. The fact that Bollinger owns 180 hectares of vineyards allowed the house to select only the finest and healthiest grapes. The evidence is in the glass. Perhaps we should take a leaf out of Lily Bollinger’s book and allow this wine to become the highlight of our evening. At the very least we should toast her pioneering spirit and brilliant idea. 

Champagne Bollinger R.D. 2007 

see the tasting note