The 2002 vintage of Bollinger RD marks the 50th anniversary of the first RD release, which was of the vintage 1952. This new, 12 years old RD was unveiled at a launch event in Stockholm. BKWine’s Tomas Ericsson reports in this second article on the event.
Bollinger R. D. is basically the same wine as Bollinger La Grande Année but the wine in the bottles has spent a few more years on the lees in the cellar and it has been degorged later than La Grande Année. Another difference is that R.D. is bottled as extra brut rather than brut, ie with a lower dosage (addition of sugar) of 3-4 grams per litre, since the more mature style is considered not to need as much sugar to be balanced contrary to the younger champagnes. RD stands for récemment dégorgé or recently disgorged, which has the same meaning.
The bottle we tasted had been disgorged in September 2013 and had thus been approximately 10.5 years on the lees. The contents are 60% pinot noir and 40% chardonnay. 71% of the grapes come from grand cru villages and 29% from premier cru villages.
It has been quite a while since we last saw a substantial volume of Bollinger RD as not every vintage of La Grande Année becomes a regular RD release. Both 1999 and 2000 were given special treatment because the vintages apparently only were on the limit of being good enough as RD vintages. They were only released in larger bottle sizes, which are always considered better for champagne. The R.D. 1999 was sold in magnum and jeroboam (3 litre). But after a while they stopped releasing bottles since they developed a bit too rapidly in bottle. The RD 2000 was sold only in a limited edition of 350 jéroboam. The most recent Bollinger RD released in 75 cl bottle was therefore the vintage 1997 and before that the two top vintages 1996 and 1995.
R.D. 2002 comes on the market some three years after La Grande Année 2002 was launched, and about 1.5 years after that was replaced by La Grande Année 2004.
So how did the R.D. 2002 behave in the tasting?
In the glass we are greeted by a medium yellow colour with some golden tones and a subtle mousse. The nose displays ripe red and yellow apples, some peaches, hints old apples and cider, some honey, some citrus peel, mineral with some chalkiness and some general notes of maturity. The oak barrels make themselves known with a hint of vanilla.
The palate is full-bodied for a champagne and is very dry. There are notes of yellow apples and a bit of old apples, and some citrus; good concentration, some spiciness and peppery, crisp mineral tone, and a really long finish dominated by apples and mineral notes.
Although there are some hints of maturity in addition to the normal Bollinger character thanks to the easy oxidative treatment in oak barrels the wine has a young presentation with a fresh taste. The wine will develop with some more bottle age. 94 p.
RD 2002 is a typical Bollinger with its powerful and very food-friendly style and with predominant apple aromas with both red apples and old (winter) apples. It is also a typical 2002 with aromas of very ripe grapes maturation, for example in the form of some peach character while it has a high acidity level and still has a lot of youthful tones.
Anyone who has La Grande Année 2002 in memory will recognize much of it in RD 2002 but it is in this release quite obvious that the wine is drier and tighter than a regular Grande Année.
The additional aging on the yeast lees has also given the wine a little bit more tones of maturity and it has slightly muted the fruit notes compared to the La Grande Année 2002 when it was released.
Those who want full maturity will have to wait for the wine to get several more years of bottle age after disgorging. The RD 2002 will be long-lasting and will keep for long if you want but you will not need quite the same patience as for the 1996s.
R.D. 2002 is launched at Systembolaget on April 1, 2014 at the price of 1750 SEK.
A two part article on Bollinger RD 2002:
- Part 1: Bollinger RD 2002, with 11 years on the lees. Part 1: a bit of history, by Roland Eriksson
- Part 2: Bollinger RD 2002, a champagne special cuvée turns 50. Part 2: more on the wine, by Tomas Eriksson
The champagne was tasted at a launch event arranged by the Swedish importer Arvid Nordqvist in the presence of two representatives from Bollinger.
Tomas Eriksson is one of the contributors on BKWine Magazine. He is active in the wine tasting association AuZone in Stockholm and in Munskänkarna, where he sometimes holds wine courses. Tomas also runs a blog called Vintomas.
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