Esquire (UK)

A Bollinger corker from the vaults

Bollinger uncorks a cracker

- By Rachel Fellows Photograph by Paul Zak

Long remembered as 12 months of global financial crisis and catastroph­e, 2008 is a year best forgotten. Except to Champagne enthusiast­s, for whom, perversely, 2008 summons the sound of corks popping rather than celebratio­ns being put on ice. The most recent house to release its loot is Champagne Bollinger, fashionabl­y late to the party but well worth the wait with a deep, aromatic Grande Année with a hit of acidity. This dry Champagne uses 71 per cent Pinot Noir and 29 per cent Chardonnay grapes from 18 villages in the region, fermented solely in old French oak barrels.

“We believe that the 2008 is a genuine gastronomi­c wine,” says cellar master Gilles Descôtes, who served it to Esquire alongside silken, salty jambon — the rich flavours and mutual salinity complement­ing one another while the Champagne’s tartness cleaned up the fat on the meat. Descôtes has enlisted the help of some of Britain’s finest chefs to create more food pairings: Ollie Dabbous, Tom Kitchin, Lisa Goodwin-Allen and Atul Kochhar are among those each putting a bespoke dish on their restaurant­s’ menus for one month this year, to complement the fizz.

If you would rather enjoy it at home, you’ll find the Grande Année 2008 is Bollinger’s first prestige cuvée bottled in its newly-designed 75cl vessel. Mimicking 19th-century ones, the patented “1846” bottle is more akin to a magnum, with a narrower neck and broader base to lower the oxygen exchange with the wine, meaning it’ll keep better — and for longer... if you can resist sampling what all the fuss is about, that is. £100/75cl; leaandsand­

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