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In 1976, Bollinger Vintage became Grande Année; then, in 2004, "La" Grande Année… A name simple enough to illustrate its exceptional status: because only truly extraordinary years become vintage at Bollinger. La Grande Année made its screen débuts two years later, in James Bond’s Casino Royale.
La Grande Année is the Prestige Cuvée of Champagne Bollinger. It is only produced when exceptional quality harvests occur, and is the expression of Bollinger's experience and expertise. More than the illustration of the vintage, La Grande Année is the result of the Bollinger style, of its exceptional terroir and traditional wine making techniques. La Grande Année possesses a beautiful rounded structure and combines rich, complex and intense aromas. These wines express sincere vinosity and intense aromas that depict the conditions of that particular vintage.
Fermentation: The first fermentation takes place in small oak casks, lot-by-lot, cru-by-cru, and grape variety with all crus and grape varieties segregated. This allows Bollinger to use a very strict selection process. Bollinger only uses old casks (5 years or older) to ensure that neither tannin nor oak flavors are imparted to the wines.
Aging: Once the wine is bottled, the carbonic fermentation and cellar aging are conducted under natural cork for a minimum of 5 years, more than twice as long as required by Appellation rules.
A cold winter and a mild late spring cued for a perfect June allowing early and fast flowering. Outstanding weather conditions prevailed and the season went on without dramatic turns. Rains in August raised concerns regarding gray rot, but finally sunshine and dry conditions throughout September resulted in an abundant crop of largely healthy fruit (11,930 kg/ha). Dehydration due to wind further aided in achieving perfect ripeness and additional concentration. This, and the cool nights, helped in retaining fresh acidity and, despite the ripeness (10.3% potential alcohol), the wines did not suffer from heaviness or a lack of life. A near-perfect vintage, which produced balanced Champagnes consistently around the region. The best show an impeccable combination of freshness, power, structure and finesse. However, some have matured aromatically quicker than expected and are already past their peak. 2002 produced an abundance of spectacular champagnes, such as Dom Pérignon (the entire range), Krug Vintage and Clos du Mesnil, Piper-Heidsieck Rare, Louis Roederer Cristal and Cristal Rosé, Ruinart Dom Ruinart and Dom Ruinart Rosé, Salon Le Mesnil and Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, to name a few.