Bollinger RD 2008


For many champagne lovers, 2008 is the greatest vintage of their life, certainly the best since 1988. Naturally, fifteen years after the vintage, there are not that many still to be released. One which has just hit the shelves is the famous RD from Bollinger.

RD was a concept invented by the legendary Madame Bollinger herself. Adamant that they already made the best champagnes they could, when all those around them began releasing prestige cuvées, she determined to leave their vintage champagne, their Grand Année, on its lees for an extended period, creating a new wine. The first release was in 1963, a tiny quantity of their 1947.

The name, ‘RD’, means ‘récemment dégorgé’, or in English, ‘recently disgorged’. It is always fascinating to compare the original release with one which enjoyed a longer period on lees and then was recently disgorged. Is one better than the other? Look to personal preference.

The RD release sees a lower dosage, just 3 grams/litre. The original 2008 Grand Année was released with a dosage of 8 grams/litre. The wine also has a slightly lower pressure, around 4.5 to 5 atmospheres rather than the usual six. This occurs because of the extra time it receives before disgorgement.

If the RD appeals to you, do not hesitate. It is a very limited release (there will be further releases in coming years but again, minute quantities). As Bollinger say, they produce less than 1% of the region’s champagnes. Of that, RD is less than 1% of Bollinger’s production. In addition, there will not be another RD until the 2012 vintage is released.

The wine is a blend of 71% Pinot Noir and 29% Chardonnay (always at least 60% Pinot Noir, but 71% is quite high). The Pinot, all from Grand Cru vineyards, hails mostly from Ay, as well as Verzenay, Verzy and Ambonnay. The Chardonnay, almost all Grand Cru, is mostly Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Cramant. 91% of the wine is from Grand Cru vineyards. The wine is a deep golden bronze color. The immediate impression is an impressive array of nutty notes. Hazelnuts certainly, but also walnuts and a touch of almond. This is a wine of complexity, power, class, richness, harmony, persistence and more – all hallmarks of great Bollinger champagnes. Stonefruit, tobacco leaves, brioche and those endless hazelnuts Sith hints of acacia florals and ginger. A wonderful intense creamy texture and great length. This is a wine with focus and intensity with the palate offering more apricot kernels, hints of toast and those nuts. Fine acidity and traces of salinity run the length, and this is a very long wine indeed. As an ’08, there is little doubt it will continue to age and improve, but for how long? I think well cellared bottles will enjoy at least another ten to twenty years.