Bonhams 22 March 2018

Presented by Gilles Descotes, Cellar Master


I tasted the following blind, at a fascinating and educational tasting to mark the launch of the 2004 vintage of Bollinger R.D. (Recently Disgorged)*

The first two glasses of Champagne were surpisingly different in character, given that we were to dicover they had been poured from the same bottle. The only difference was the 15 minutes of extra time the first pour had spent in the glass.

The following three glasses were all 2004 RD but with different amounts of dosage**, created especially for this tasting. The first had no added sugar, the second was the regular bottling (3 g/l of sugar) and the last was an unusually high dosage of 8g/l.

The next two glasses demonstrated the profound effect of disgorgement dates. The same vintage showed very differently, when disgorged five years apart. A vote amongst the attendees was spilt roughly 50-50 as to which style was prefered. Personally, I enjoyed the evolution and complexity of the matured bottle but the more recent release was also enjoyable for its greater freshness.

Lastly, we enjoyed a glass of the current release, served from magnum. 


Cellar Master, Gilles Descotes told us that a good rule of thumb for RD is that it is generally happy being aged in bottle, after release, for the same amount of time as it has sent on its lees. This disgorgment of 2004 RD has spent 14 years on lees so should comfortably age as long in your cellar.


2002 RD
Richer and more honeyed than the second glass, with dried fruits. Waxy, lanolin. 
Broader palate. Creamier with ginger snap character.

2002 RD (poured 15 min later, from the same bottle)
Very buttery. Hazelnut, honey and floral.
Zesty and vibrant. Racy acidity. Fresh lime and greengage.

2004 RD (3 bottling with different dosages: 0, 3 & 8 g/l)
Darker golden straw colour 
Very ripe and fruit driven nose. 
0, 3 & 8 g/l dosage

Zero dosage is very taut and precise but 3G/l brings and the texture and softens a slight bitterness, whilst 8g/l dumbs things down and the finish appears shorter.

1996 RD (2012 disgorgement) 
Dark honeyed colour. Impressive bouquet of compl x and evolved. Beeswax, ginger and fruitcake. Clearly a mature vintage. 
Rich ripe and evolved. Candied orange star fruit and spice. Long and delicate finish. Vibrant and fresh.

1996 RD (2017 disgorgement) 
Intensely floral. Meatier. Toulouse sausage
The palate is much fresher and racier but it pr fee and he richness and development of the aged RD

2004 RD (magnum)
Profoundly autolytic yeasty lees character. Fresh green apple and a hint of lemon. This has an impressive rounded core of ripe and generous fruit. Wonderfully balanced and creative complete. In 3D terms the palate is spherical. This is perfect now but with the promise of riches to come.


* Disgorgement is the process of separating a sparkling wine from its lees (solids deposite from the action of yeast in the secondary fermentation, in bottle).

**Dosage is the final addition to a sparkling wine which determines the sweetness, or residual sugar, of the finished wine. Known as the liqueur d’expédition, this comprises a mixture of wine and cane sugar syrup. Bollinger use the same wine for the liquer as the wine they are adding to.