Newly launched Bollinger Grande Annee 2005 is ready to drink on release and offers a glimpse of how global warming may affect Champagne styles, writes Michael Edwards.

Image credit: Bollinger / Mentzendorff

Bollinger has launched its Grande Annee 2005 in both colours at a tasting event held at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, echoing the UK’s pre-eminence as the top market for this prestige cuvee.

Challenging vintage

Champagne had a challenging vintage in 2005; a hot summer complicated by early September rain bringing some botrytis. Bollinger, or ‘Bolly’ as it is commonly known, was picked later than usual but did so under sunny skies, between 15 and 27 September.

The house’s great advantage is that its vineyards of 162 hectares account for 95% of Grande Annee: the heart of the wine is great Pinot from Ay & Verzenay (70%) and scintillating Chardonnays of Avize, Chouilly & Le Mesnil.

Ready to drink

The 2005 is ready to drink now, a rare trait on release, due to high levels of natural sugar (10%) and lowish acidity (6.5 grammes per litre). Yet, it also has a delicate golden hue, complex aromas of honey, hazelnuts and rich fruits, fresh and confit.

Its mouthfeel is supple, full and long; dosage is a moderate 6 g/l. For drinking now to catch the lovely fruit, but will keep a while. The rose has a fraction more Pinot, including 5% Cote aux Enfants red wine. It has fresh red fruits and is opulent and honeyed.

White score: 17.5
Rose score: 17

Global Warming

The duo are the first witness of vintages to come with global warming, according to whizz kid winemaking assistant at Bollinger, Denis Bunner – referring to the wines’ maturity at such an early age.

He believes global warming will make Champagne vintages become more Burgundian. I’m sure he’s right, and 2005 is an example of the ‘Burgundy-vinosity’ trend in Champagne. Cristal 2005 is another example of this.

An extra treat at the tasting was two superb Grand Annee 1995s, the white tasting joyfully young yet so poised and complete. The pink had arresting flavours beyond wild strawberries; a range of blossoms, citrus zest and a gentle note of redcurrant. Both score 19+.

Bollinger Grande Annee 2005 white was this week on sale in the UK for £600 for a case of 12 bottles at Bordeaux Index and for £300 for a case of six bottles at Fine & Rare.

Michael Edwards has judged on the Champagne panel at the Decanter World Wine Awards. He is also author of The Finest Wines of Champagne.

(Editing by Chris Mercer)

Written by Michael Edwards