x
  • Country ranking ?

    708
  • Producer ranking ?

    26
  • Decanting time

    15min
  • When to drink

    2020-2035
  • Food Pairing

    Seafood, Salads & Consommes

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The Story

Destroyed at the dawn of the 20th century by the infamous phylloxera vastatrix, all the Champagne region’s vines had to be replanted with American rootstocks that were resistant to the destructive insect.

All of them? Not quite... In Aÿ, two Bollinger plots classified Grand cru, the “Chaudes Terres” and “Clos St Jacques”, were miraculously spared by the phylloxera. From these vines cultivated using traditional methods, planted “en foule” (without any visible order) according to the provignage method, and worked by hand, is crafted the Vieilles Vignes Françaises cuvée: a Blanc de Noirs matured in the cellar for at least five years, with a cork stopper and then disgorged by hand. Vieilles Vignes Françaises is a confidential production of a few thousand bottles, an exceptional and extremely rare wine, with a memory of bygone days; a symbol, an extraordinary, evocative and moving legacy.

 

Bathed in golden morning sun of Champagne, three diminutive Pinot Noir plots are under the exacting scrutiny of vineyard workers. The plots, surrounded by stone walls, have been given special attention for over one hundred years. These are the only ungrafted vines in nearly all of Champagne that have managed to escape the ravages of phylloxera decade after decade. It is on this morning that the vineyard workers have discovered a fateful problem on the 16-are Croix Rouge plantation in the village of Bouzy. The year is 2004—phylloxera has landed.

“It was over in the blink of an eye. Right when we found out that phylloxera had hit us, it only took a couple of weeks before everything was gone. There wasn’t a thing we could do,” recalls Bollinger’s Christian Dennis.

Champagne Bollinger has cared for the vines on these three plots with an extraordinary passion since 1969. Renowned English wine author Cyril Ray was the guest of Madame Lily Bollinger when he recorded the history of the Bollinger Champagne house in 1968. His attention was drawn to these exceptional plots and the truly unique character of the wines they produced. At his urging, Lily Bollinger decided to produce wines from these plots under her own name. The 1969 vintage produced in honour of Madame Bollinger’s 70th birthday was released in 1974. The first actually commercial vintage was released in 1970. This ‘museum wine’ instantly became a favourite among collectors and a much-desired rarity, so seldom encountered in a lifetime.

Bollinger is one of only a handful of the remaining family-owned prestige champagne houses. Founded in 1829, Bollinger attained legendary status in its pursuit of perfection: its renowned Charter of Ethics and Quality was published in 1992 by Christian Bizot and Ghislain de Montgolfier, when the syndicate of Grand Marque houses was not ready to accept the stringent criteria as a guideline for all houses. Bollinger decided to stick with the Charter and its own values, which respect not only quality, but also family, the region and tradition. In an age of increasing champagne production and giant champagne houses, Bollinger has been able to keep its scale small. Export manager Philippe Menguy explains:


“Every year we produce two million bottles of champagne, even though we could sell four million. We have 12 million bottles in our cellars, which is a six-year inventory. We own and cultivate a majority of our grape needs, so we’re not dependent on purchased grapes.”

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Vintage 2007

An unusually warm spring led to early flowering and initial optimism, which soon gave way to disappointment following one of the murkiest summers on record. Overall, 2007 was a difficult vintage saved by last-minute sunshine in late-August. Mildew and rot were the main culprits of the harvest, and the level of gluconic acid rocketed. The harvest began early, on August 24th, and was abundant in volume averaging 14,242 kg/ha. Pinot Meunier posed the biggest problems and Chardonnay clearly outperformed the rest. Many of the iconic prestige cuvée blanc de blancs were successfully produced, such as Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, Ruinart Dom Ruinart, Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Louis and Salon Le Mesnil. Some blended prestige cuvées such as Louis Roederer Cristal and Philipponnat Clos des Goisses were also made. Champagnes from 2007 are typically high in acidity and restrainedly classic in style, but lack the spine and strength of the greatest harvest years. Even if the vintage only receives three stars, its best Chardonnays are well worth seeking and storing.

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

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Written Notes

To the eye, a deep golden colour. On the nose, a wonderful aromatic complexity revealing the perfect maturity of the wine. Initial floral notes of lime blossom and chamomile, developing into notes of truffle and acacia honey.
 
To the palate: Impressive intensity, opulence and balance. Aromas of candied lemon, tarte tatin and gingerbread. Exceptional persistence, finishing on sweet spices evocative of cinnamon.

A total of 3,132 numbered bottles of the 2007 Vieilles Vignes Françaises vintage were produced.
 

Vieilles Vignes Francaises 2007 is a 100% Pinot Noir Grand cru (Blanc de Noirs). Exclusive use of the cuvee. Fermented entirely in barrels. At Bollinger, only the highest quality harvests become a vintage: in 2007, the harvest dates were among the earliest in over a century in the Champagne region.
 
The Vieilles Vignes Françaises were harvested on 31 August and produced a superb Pinot Noir Wines of exceptional quality are therefore needed from the outset. Grapes used to make the Vieilles Vignes Francaises comes from the Chaudes Terresand the Clos St Jacques, plots of Pinot Noir Grand Cru from Ay.
 
After bottling, the second fermentation and cellar ageing are conducted under natural cork in order to protect them from oxidation and preserve their freshness as well as the bouquet and clarity of their aromas.
 
Cellar aged for more than twice the time required by the appellation. Sealed with a natural cork whilst ageing.
 
After manual riddling and disgorging, Vieilles Vignes Francaises receives a low dosage (8 g/l) and then rests for a minimum of 3 months prior to shipment, time for the wine to assimilate the dosage and settle.

Vieilles Vignes Françaises 2007 can be paired with the finest dishes but can also help create a special occasion on its own; wine connoisseurs will share it thoughtfully, enjoying the opportunity to try its rare unmatched flavours, if only once… To fully appreciate its unique style, bouquet and aromas, it is best to serve Vieilles Vignes Françaises 2007 between 8 and 10°C. You can enjoy Vieilles Vignes Françaises 2007 right away, or choose to age it in your cellar.

  • 92p
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Information

Origin

Ay, Champagne

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