The prolific appeal and excellent marketing of the Champagne region and its wines are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they are highly sought after and heralded as the “world’s best sparkling”. On the other, there’s the misconception that most Champagne houses have morphed into large-scale soulless affairs to keep up with the global mass consumption of their bubbly wines.
It’s the way R.D. is crafted that makes this wine the most spectacular out of an already outstanding vintage. The R.D. on the label stands for “Recently Disgorged”, and this unique cuvée was disgorged as recently as October 2022. As a recap, disgorgement “wakes up” wine, giving it a kick, which is best to drink within the next two years. So even though it has spent 14 years of its life sleeping in the Champagne caves on its lees (the yeast cells that die after fermentation and live inside the bottle), the wine exhibits incredible vibrancy.
To put R.D. in perspective, take its relationship to Bollinger’s famed vintage Champagne La Grande Année (made only in excellent years). It is exclusively from those premium vintages, that the Chef de Cave selects the best of the best to become R.D. So while R.D. is always made from La Grande Année, not all LGA becomes R.D.
Each of these wines is still crafted by hand; hand riddled, hand disgorged, hand selected. Fermentation occurs entirely in oak barrels (coopered on-site and tracked throughout their life) to maintain the integrity of the wine and specific Bollinger style.
Now, onto the delicious part; the wine comprises 71 per cent pinot noir and 29 per cent chardonnay, an unusually traditional blend for the Bollinger house, which built its name on excellent pinot noir vines. It tastes like grapefruit in its entirety – peel, pith, and flesh – alongside oyster shell minerality and an upfront creaminess that will have you reaching for a second glass. But the most predominant characteristic is roasted hazelnuts. This flavour comes from the house’s signature style of slightly more oxidative characters developing with age. Keep these creamy and nutty flavours at the forefront of your mind when pairing. When I had the delight of trying it upon release in Paris, Jerusalem artichoke and marrow ravioli with hazelnuts made for a standout match.