The Friday Bubble – Review of Bollinger PN AYC 18

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Today on The Friday Bubble, Nick Baker introduces Champagne Bollinger’s new release, the 4th interpretation of the PN range, AYC 18. This follows on from PNVZ 15, PNVZ 16 and PNTX 17.

Bollinger PN AYC 18 is made exclusively from Pinot Noir (PN) with the majority of the grapes coming from estate owned vineyards in the Grand Cru village of Aÿ, based on the superb 2018 vintage. Aÿ is one of the rare 17 villages to be classified as Grand Cru in the Champagne region. The vineyards are situated at the heart of three important areas: the Côtes des Blancs, Montagne de Reims and Vallée de la Marne. 50% reserve wines, including 25% aged in magnums of 2009 Aÿ, are then added to bring a sense of aromatic harmony and further complexity to the blend.

2018 was a very unusual year in more ways than one. After an exceptionally rainy winter, spring was very mild. The warmth brought with it stormy and sometimes destructive weather as well as variable rainfall throughout the appellation. Summer was very warm, dry and sunny and surpassed even the record breaking temperatures of 2003. 2018 is therefore a new benchmark for the Champagne region in terms of the heat, drought and sunshine levels.

Bollinger are famed for their Pinot Noir so there is little surprise that its signature rich and open style shines through. The wonderful smoky, nutty and caramel tones imparted by Bollinger’s distinct foudre ageing (50% of the wines are fermented in oak barrels) are already present and the reserve wines add to its exceptional aromatic intensity.

93 → 94/100 – Essi Avellan MW | June 2023
The amply fruity 2018 vintage represents a half of the blend, its ripeness giving a light peachy tone already to the colour. The rest is constructed of 2017 and 2016 reserve wines and as much as 25% of 2009 vintage reserve wine magnums. The supple nose comes with sweet vanilla tones, apple compote, orange blossom and pencil shavings. There is an immediate charm also to the fleshy and airy yet precise palate. Towards the back palate an energising freshness emerges, adding vivacity to the creamy and textured whole. A beautifully constructed cuvée playing on all the Bollinger fortes.

Technical Information:
Vineyards: Grand Cru: Aÿ & Verzenay | Premier Cru: Tauxières & Avenay-Val-d’Or
Grape Varieties: 100% Pinot Noir
Fermentation: More than 50% vinified in oak barrels
Reserve Wines: 53% 2017, 2016 & as much as 25% of 2009 vintage reserve wine magnums.
Base Vintage: 2018
Lees Ageing: 4 years
Dosage: 6 g/l
Disgorged: January 2023