Vintage Sparkling Wine from Champagne, France
What makes "2003 by Bollinger" so Special? A late freeze, followed by damaging storms and one of the hottest summers on record allowed the vines to ripen only a very few grapes at a time creating the earliest harvest in Champagne since 1822. The grapes come from our three most historic vineyards in Aÿ, Verzenay and Cuis, which in exceptional years would supply La Grande Année, but in this truly unique vintage display the variation that weather plays despite the same vinification process.
Light Straw. Light citrus and Gala apples with a subtle hint of Marcona almonds.
A smooth mousse, with crisp red apples notes followed by a very subtle nuttiness in the finish. This one of a kind wine displays the exceptional qualities of the 2003 vintage as made in the traditional Bollinger style.
Wine Spectator - "Inviting and seductive, this opulent Champagne features plenty of mineral, toast, butterscotch, citrus and vanilla pastry flavors, matched to a lush texture. It’s a bubbly you can relax into, like a plush pillow, yet has surprising length. Drink now through 2020"
Wine & Spirits - "Burgundian complexity is there from the moment this wine is first poured, and it is a wine as much as a Champagne, with remarkable balance given the extreme conditions of 2003. The firm's vineyards were hit with a spring frost, hail in June and excessive heat in summer. Bollinger blended pinot noir from Ay and Verzenay with chardonnay from Cuis to produce a wine that translates the vintage power and intensity into symphonic breadth. It has graceful length, a contrast of dark spice (enhanced by fermentation in older oak barrels) and pure limestone whiteness, the rasp of apple skin and the sweetness of vanilla. Delicious to drink, this is a concentrated, main-course wine for poulet de Bresse braised with truffles. "
Wine Enthusiast - "This young vintage is outside the usual Grande Année range of vintages. Bollinger sees the unique heat of 2003 as a reason to make a special vintage for release early. The wine is rich, but being Bollinger, the richness has translated into the full character of the house style. It is relatively dry, packed with white fruits. Not for aging. Drink now."
Wilfred Wong of Wine.com - "This new wine is unusual in every regard, from the label on the bottle to the wine inside it -- and even the vintage itself.
Pale gold color with pinpoint bubbles. Chalk and mineral notes provide an appealing foundation for an expansive second layer of red apple and citrus. Mineral aspects spread across the palate with pleasant notes of citrus and fresh bread dough. Underpinning these qualities is a firm, solid structure and bracing acidity. An elegant and powerful wine that offers satisfying drinking now over the next five years. "
International Wine Cellar - "Bright gold with a strong mousse. Deep, complex displays smoky apple, peach pit, buttered toast and vanilla bean scents. Fleshy orchard fruit flavors are complemented by baking spices, floral honey and a hint of candied ginger. Deep, creamy, powerful and focused, with very good finishing lift and a lingering note of bitter pear skin. This is already complex enough to enjoy; serve it with a rich shellfish dish or with a young creamy cheese. "
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Champagne Bollinger Winery
In 1829, Champagne Bollinger introduced an instantly recognizable, dry, toasty style that connoisseurs around the globe have coveted ever since. Six generations of the Bollinger family have maintained that trademark style, and Bollinger is one of the rare Grande Marque houses to be owned, controlled and managed by the same family since it was founded.
With 399 acres of vineyards situated in the best Grands Crus and Premiers Crus villages, Bollinger relies on its own estate for nearly two-thirds of its grape requirements, including the Pinot Noir that gives its Champagne its distinctive roundness and elegance. Bollinger is one of a select few houses that can control the quality of its grape supply so carefully.
Bollinger is renowned for its stringent quality standards. It adheres to traditional methods, including individual vinification of each marc and cru, barrel fermentation (it is the last Champagne house to employ a full-time cooper) and extra-aging on the lees prior to disgorgement.
Members of the British Royal Court were among the first to embrace Bollinger’s unmistakable quality, and Queen Victoria made Bollinger the exclusive purveyor to the Court by Royal Warrant in 1884. Besides royalty, loyal devotees have included heads of state, celebrities and even famous fictional characters: Agent 007, James Bond, demands the exclusive Champagne Bollinger. View all Champagne Bollinger Wines
About ChampagneView a map of Champagne wineries Champagne is both a region and a method. The wines come from the northernmost vineyards in France and the name conjures an image like no other can. An 18th Century Benedictine monk named Dom Perignon is said to be the first to blend both varietals and vintages, making good wines not only great, but also special and unique to their winemaker. Today, nearly 75% of Champagne produced is non-vintage and made up by a blend of several years' harvests.
All Champagnes must be made by a strictly controlled process called "Méthode Champenoise." The grapes are pressed and fermented for the first time. The blending phase follows and the wine is bottled and temporarily capped. Then comes the second fermentation, a blend of sugar and yeast is added and, this time, the carbon dioxide is kept inside the bottle. This process leaves a great deal of sediment that is extracted through a process of "racking" or "riddling." The bottles are progressively turned upside down until all the sediment is collected in the neck. The necks are then frozen and the sediment is "disgorged." After this phase, the winemaker may decide to add sugar to sweeten the wine. Finally the wine is corked. Some wines move through this process in a couple of months, while others are aged after the riddling phase to build greater complexity and depth.
Champagnes range from dry, "Brut," to slightly sweet, "Demi-Sec." Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are used in Champagne blends, but "Blancs de Noirs" is made entirely of Pinot Noir and "Blancs de Blanc" is made from only Chardonnay grapes. The high acidity achieved by the northern location is crucial to the balance and structure of these wines.
Not every year is a "vintage" declared. In years when it is not, the wines are blended with the produce from other years to create the non-vintage blend, the house style that remains constant from year to year. But in a great vintage year, champagne houses will bottle by itself the unblended year's produce, and use other portions as "reserve" wines to supplement and enrich the non-vintage blend. A vintage champagne can age quite gracefully, and gain complexity just like any other great still wine.
Mild cheeses like gruyere and shellfish pair nicely with Champagne. Also, oysters and Champagne is a popular combination. A full-flavored vintage Champagne can go with almost any meal.
About France - Other regionsWhen it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
- Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
- Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
- Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.