Amazing aromas of sweet uncooked pie crust with almonds. Then you smell dried apples, apricots and pineapple. Grilled fruits, too. Full-bodied. So tangy and energetic with sizzling acidity and creamy tannins. Flavorful and lightly oxidized at the finish. Smacking my lips. Agile. Ginger and spices. A touch of bitter complexity with some salinity. Extreme character that grabs your attention. 13 years and six months aging on the lees with cork. 3 grams dosage. 71% pinot noir and 29% chardonnay. Don’t serve too cold. Drink or hold.
98P+: When I was tasting Bollinger's brilliant Grande Année in this vintage, I was trying to imagine how good the 2008 Extra-Brut R. D. would be, as the style of the vintage seems almost perfectly adapted to this cuvée. Four years later, we have the answer, and the wine is brilliant. Disgorged in 2022, it's more reserved out of the gates than the dramatic Grande Année was on release, unwinding in the glass with notes of crisp orchard fruit, orange peel, freshly baked bread, subtle hints of fino sherry, wet stones and macadamia nut. On the palate, it's medium to full-bodied, with a deep core of fruit that's animated by racy acids and a refined pinpoint mousse, concluding with a bone-dry finish. Extremely harmonious and full of youthful energy, it's the finest R. D. of the decade and one that will richly reward a bit of additional age on cork. In style, the most obvious comparison is with the 1996, but the 2008 is more integrated and harmonious on release. These bottles were disgorged late last year with three grams per liter dosage.
The 2008 vintage was a great success for Bollinger, and I had been looking forward to tasting the R.D. for some time. Readers interested in more background on this cuvée, as well as tasting notes on older iterations back to 1955, are directed to my article published in the August 2022 Week 3 issue of The Wine Advocate, which delves into the origins of R.D., how it is made and its evolution over time.
Returning for a rousing encore at nigh on fifteen years of age, there is still a radiant brightness to the medium straw hue that heralds Bollinger. The vast panorama of complexity on wide and expansive display has ratcheted up just one more click from its riveting first appearance as La Grande Année. Meanwhile, it has shed nothing of its shuddering energy and riveting precision. A vibrant flash of 2008 acidity as stark as high noon sunshine illuminates a breathtaking plain of pure white chalkfields as far as the eye can see, mouth filling and as intricately detailed as Bollinger has ever conjured. Pinot noir assumes a stance that perfectly straddles the deep, reverberating complexity that Bollinger assumes of the southern Montagne de Reims grand crus, while upholding incisive freshness and purity that spans red cherries, strawberries, fig, brioche, golden fruit cake, ginger and layers of glorious spice. Chardonnay heightens its energy, lemon zest brightness and chalk mineral exactness. It holds a full 30 second finish. A vintage for the extreme long game, whether you cellar it as La Grande Année or as R.D., this is a cuvée to hold out on until at least 2033, and it shows every promise of maintaining its riveting, captivating beauty until it turns 50.
It takes a long time in the glass before the fruit appears and at the same time the nutty and grilled aromas tone down a bit. The taste is vibrantly fresh while being rich and grilled nutty. Here, minerality and sea aromas such as iodine and oyster shells show up together with an apricot-like sublime fruitiness. After a fresh attack, my senses are left supremely satisfied with an exemplary long aftertaste of honey.
If we stick to the facts, this fantastic champagne is composed from 18 villages, with the dominant parts as usual being Verzenay and Aÿ for Pinot Noir and Le Mesnil and Cramant for Chardonnay. It is notable that the dosage was kept to a record low 3 grams of sugar. My second bottle was a bit tighter than the first, so despite my 97 points from the start, it might be wise to wait six months before opening this already legendary wine.
Bollinger’s 2008 R.D. is a powerful, vinous Champagne. Apricot, dried pear, tangerine oil, hazelnut, dried flowers, chamomile and brioche all race across the palate. The 2008 boasts notable depth and textural intensity, with a feeling of phenolic, almost tannin-driven grip from the Pinot that propels the finish.
At times the R.D. is quite exotic, even if there is a good kick of energy from the bright, salivating acids and low dosage. The 2008 R.D. is very much a Champagne for the dinner table, a wine that benefits immensely from aeration. In 2008, the blend comprises fruit from 18 villages, 71% Pinot Noir, mostly from Aÿ and Verzenay and 29% Chardonnay, mostly from Mesnil-sur-Oger and Cramant. Dosage is 3 grams of dosage. I would give this a few more years in bottle to fully come together. Disgorged: October 28, 2022.
Bright in colour with gold reflections, the aromatics are immediately captivating, with marzipan, acacia, apricot and patisserie all vying for attention. It’s impossibly youthful yet reassuringly mature, a bread basket of delicious contradiction. Cerebral seduction ensues on the palate, with dried fruits, bergamot and lime joining the party, then come the hazelnut notes – which have been identified as a leitmotif for the vintage – and a clean, almost chalky finish to restore rigorous harmony. Precision in no way undermines generosity, and generosity in no way undermines potential. A very fine piece of work all in all, tasted from magnum, alongside bottle and jeroboam.