bollinger, rd 2002
A fine example of power married to elegance, this is impeccably balanced, with a mouthwatering palate of crème de cassis, toasted brioche, fleur de sel and crystallized honey flavors. The rich, smoky underpinning is carried on a finely detailed bead. (AN)
A wine that really needs time in the glass to show at its best, Bollinger’s 2002 RD comes from a total 23 different crus (71% being Grand Cru) and is a 60/40 split of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Disgorged in 2013 after spending 11 years in bottle, it offers a dry, savory style that quickly morphs toward more stone fruits, toasted nuts, dried earth and exotic spices. Deep, pure, and incredibly chiseled on the palate, with a gorgeous texture and great finish, this is a Champagne I’d decant if drinking anytime soon. The dosage is in the 3-4 grams range, and while it’s certainly on the dry/savory end of the spectrum, it offers incredible complexity and depth.
Expressive and richly textured Pinot Noir. Profound. Drinking Window 2019-2040.
Super fresh, this is striking given the 10 years in the cellars; it has a fine citrus nose - plenty of lemon, grapefruit, yellow chalky notes, some lighter floral elements too. The palate is super dry (dosage at 3-4g) and there's a silky, sherbet-like texture, smooth, fine and long. The citrus flavours give way to the driving surging acidity, thunderous acidity, really driving and powerful. The finish twists very slowly through to light-toasted cashew fruit flavours, but lemon citrus prevails. This is thrilling Champagne.
The most remarkable thing about the 2002 Extra Brut R.D. is how tense and structured it is. Despite having been disgorged over two years ago, the 2002 is very much tightly wound. After several hours, the power and resonance of the vintage start to come through, along with the natural richness of Pinot from Aÿ. Whereas most 2002 Champagnes are quite ripe in profile, the 2002 R.D. has plenty of depth, but it is depth through concentration as opposed to elevated ripeness. The low dosage style further adds to that sensation. Hints of chamomile, sage, dried flower and red fruits emerge over time, but only with reluctance. I would prefer to cellar the 2002 for at least a few years. If that is not possible, readers should open the wine at least a few hours in advance. Even so, the 2002's best drinking lies somewhere in the future. My sense is that the 2002 will be at its best between the ages of 20 and 30.
Wine & Spirits
When we tasted the 2002 Grande Année in 2012, I scored it 95 points, impressed by its pale chalk power, its muscularity and the freshness it expressed as a ten-year-old wine. It had the scent of a sunny meadow. With two years of additional time on the lees and a lower dosage, the current R.D. version of that wine is more extreme. If you break it apart you might consider how the barrel-aged base wines from 23 crus intensify the structure, or how the acidity of the vintage has sustained the bright, buzzing freshness of the peach and apple flavors. The fruit seems to be wedded to rock, so strong is the chalk streak of limestone. And yet the resonance of the wine, subsuming any and all of those factors, brings it together in a sumptuous texture, making it a pleasure to drink even now. It’s more sensible, however, to wait. In ten years, this should begin to fulfill its promise, at the start of its prime.