Bollinger La Grande Annee 2015: The Excellence of a Great Vintage

The latest vintage of Bollinger, their La Grande Annee 2015, has been released with considerable fanfare, with the Bolly team declaring it “the excellence of a great vintage”. Personally, I’m not sure you’d rank 2015 among the great vintages just yet, but it is certainly a very good one, and its reputation continues to climb.

Champagne vintages have a habit of surprising us given time. What does seem certain is that of all the 2015s, Bollinger has surely produced one of the very best.

Bollinger La Grande Annee 2015 and La Grande Annee Rose 2015

Chef de cave, Denis Bunner, was in town recently to unveil both the La Grande Annee 2015 and the La Grande Annee Rose 2015 and to catch up on all things Bolly. While there will be no Grande Annee from the 2023 vintage, we did a series of fascinating tastings with base wines in various forms (none of which will ever be sold commercially, of course). It gives great insight into how Bollinger operate.

Champagne Bollinger maison

Moving to the 2015 (£175; A$350), it is no secret that the key pillar of the House of Bollinger is Pinot Noir. As a generality, the blend for the Grande Annee is usually 70/30 in favor of Pinot Noir over Chardonnay. For this vintage, Chardonnay is more crucial, the blend dropping to 60/40 in favour of Pinot over Chardonnay.

This percentage revives memories of the 2002 vintage, which was the same. That said, the heat of the vintage makes it more likely to resemble 1976, 1989 or 2003 (although all signs suggest it is superior to all of these, and undoubtedly certainly superior to 2003).



Ay and Verzenay, both Grand Cru villages supplying great Pinot Noir, are the backbone of Bollinger’s Grande Annee. Mareuil-Sur-Ay also provides quality Pinot. For 2015, Verzenay provided a higher percentage of grapes than usual, 23% in comparison 20% from Ay.

Bollinger Royal Warrant

The 2015 La Grande Annee Rose (£225; A$425) has also been released – and it is a cracker – with a blend of 62% Pinot Noir and 38% Chardonnay, with 5% of the Pinot Noir being still red wine from the legendary La Cote Aux Enfants. Bollinger make a Coteaux Champagne (a still wine) from this vineyard – something we will be exploring in another piece shortly. As is usual, the Chardonnay comes from the grand crus of Chouilly and Avize.

All told, the fruit comes from eleven different crus. This is down from the nineteen crus which were used for the 2014 La Grande Annee. Fermentation was, as usual, entirely in oak barrels and dosage was 8 grams/liter. Dosage for the Rose was 7 grams/liter.

Both wines spent around seven to eight years on lees.

Bollinger Cote aux Enfants vineyards

A great deal of this fruit comes from Bollinger’s own vineyards. In total, they own 180 hectares, with 150 of those Grand Cru. They are all located in the Marne department. At this stage, they operate with an astounding 4,200 barrels for fermentation and storage, with the plan to eventually expand that to 5,000.



Bollinger is famous for their use of magnums for reserve wines (not that they are relevant to the vintage releases), and they have some 800,000 magnums of reserves in their cellars.

Bollinger La Reserve cellar

Bunner, advised that they will not be making any decision until the end of the year, but that it is unlikely there will be a 2015 RD.

Bollinger Chief Winemaker Denis Bunner

In 2015, Denis, who had been with the CIVC, worked with former chef de cave Gilles Descotes, who so sadly passed away in 2023 (he relinquished his duties in 2022). Denis took over from Gilles, so while he was not in control for the vintage, he was certainly heavily involved.

In the lead-up to harvesting for the 2015 vintage, Denis noticed green characters in a lot of the ’15 samples they were seeing. It was a hot vintage – the hottest and driest ever recorded in Champagne – but even so, Denis felt many producers picked too early and hence the evidence of green notes. They waited and the result has been to avoid any vegetal notes and has undoubtedly resulted in a better wine.  As he said, they got the expression of fruit they were searching for.

The team at Bollinger have described that as highlighting the texture, but both the La Grande Annee and the La Grande Annee Rose from 2015 “exhibit sensory and emotional qualities that echo the theme of the forest and the woodland realm, a realm which imparted structure and precision to both cuvées during the time they spent maturing in oak casks.“ For them, “wood becomes the grain running through both the Grande Année and Grande Année Rosé”.

Bollinger wine barrel

Denis has said of the 2015, that it “expresses more of the soul of a Bollinger millésimé than any other year. More opulent, more powerful, it exalts Pinot Noir. Uplifted by maturation in wooden casks, this champagne reveals the characteristics of an exceptional year.”

Bollinger La Grande Annee 2015



Tasting Notes

La Grande Annee 2015: If ever a champagne could be described as vinous, this must be it. Opulent and intense with a lovely lifted nose of red fruits, marmalade and smoky notes, dried herbs and a line of oystershells. Hints of plums and nuts. We see notes of pears, peaches and mango. A bold style, all very 2015 but done beautifully.

Bollinger La Grande Annee 2015

Rich and layered, there is toast and brioche here. Exceptional length. The texture is utterly seductive, a lovely creamy style. Already drinking well and should do so for another five to ten years, though I am not certain it will be one of the very longest lived of the Bollinger champagnes. In the meantime, it will provide wonderful drinking. 96.

La Grande Annee Rose 2015: For me, 2015 is a year that is absolutely ideal for their Rose and this is a superb example, one of the very best Bollinger Roses I can recall. An attractive pink/orange hue, the nose exhibits florals, stonefruits, tropical notes and raspberries. Hints of sour cherries.

Bollinger La Grande Annee Rose 2015

This is finely balanced, more refined than the LGA 2015. A fine line of saline acidity, beautifully long and full of flavor. The palate sees blackberries and kirsch emerge. Ten years of pleasure ahead here. Utterly delicious. 97.

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