Disgorged on July 10, 2020, with three grams per liter dosage, Bollinger's eagerly awaited 2007 Extra-Brut R. D. is beautiful, unwinding in the glass with aromas of crisp orchard fruit, citrus pith and white flowers mingled with hints of honey, orange oil, buttery pastry, English walnuts and delicately spicy bass notes. Full-bodied, vibrant and incisive, it's unusually elegant and structurally fine-boned for what is routinely one of Champagne's more muscular tête de cuvées, with a bright spine of acidity that's cloaked in vibrant, concentrated fruit, complemented by a pearly pinpoint mousse and concluding with an intensely sapid finish. Long and penetrating, this is a tightly coiled R. D. that will reward bottle age.
The fruit of an early harvest, beginning on September 1st, Bollinger's superb 2007 R. D. is an unusually delicate, fine-boned rendition of this habitually muscular cuvée. An additional seven years on the lees has brought additional textural and amplitude to the acid spine that was already evident in the 2007 Grande Année, and the slight loss of pressure during aging on cork makes for a more refined, pearly mousse that complements the wine's enhanced texture and amplified sapid nuance. Fermented in used oak cooperage, with tirage under natural cork and disgorgement without added sulfur dioxide (but now with jetting to ensure consistency), it's one of the few tête de cuvée bottlings still made very much as it was 40 years ago. While I don't tend to comment on packaging, Bollinger's decision to revive the tasteful aluminum label that graced this cuvée's debut 1952 rendition, when the redoubtable Madame Lilly Bollinger still presided over this house, does underscore what is a real and not merely superficial commitment to artisanal traditions.
Bollinger’s 2007 R.D. is superb, but it is also a wine that reflects the nature of a unique and challenging growing season. In most vintages the R.D. is marked by the distinct creaminess and breadth of Aÿ Pinot Noir. Two thousand seven, though, was a difficult year marked by very dry weather, rain at the end of the growing season and an early harvest in August, something that was not as common as it has become. Selection was essential. For the 2007, the blend is composed of just 14 villages compared to the more typical 18-25. Verzenay is the main Pinot component while Cramant plays the leading role in the Chardonnays. For these reasons, the 2007 is an R.D. driven by more focus, energy and tension than readers are used to seeing. Lemon confit, dried flowers, sage, mint, crushed rocks, almond and ginger are some of the aromas and flavors that give the 2007 its complex, multi-faceted personality.
The 2007 can be enjoyed now, but I would prefer to cellar it for a few years. It will age effortlessly for decades as it moves through the various phases of its life. I was reminded of the way Champagne can magically traverse time by magical bottles of the 1976 R.D. and 1996 Vieilles Vignes Françaises I tasted recently. The blend is 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, 91% Grand Cru fruit and the rest Premier Cru. Bollinger fans will notice the return of the original label, with the disgorgement date clearly visible, a tribute to Madame Bollinger, who was a pioneer in so many ways. Disgorged: July 10, 2020. Dosage is 3 grams per liter.
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