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The Alchemy of Champagne: How Bollinger's PN VZ19 Redefines Pinot Noir

In the rolling hills of Champagne, a revolution is quietly fermenting. Bollinger, one of the region's most storied houses, has just released its latest creation - the PN VZ19 champagne. However, this champagne stands apart from the ordinary. It's the latest installment in Bollinger's ambitious PN series, a project that aims to redefine our understanding of Pinot Noir's role in champagne.

To fully appreciate the significance of the PN VZ19, let's consider the unique conditions of the 2019 vintage. While many winemakers fretted over the intense heat, Bollinger's team saw an opportunity. They knew that their strategic advantage - the cool, north-facing slopes of Verzenay - would provide the ideal balance to the vintage's inherent richness.

"Verzenay is our key asset," explains Cyril Delarue, a sixth-generation member of the Bollinger family. "Its chalky soils and unique microclimate give us Pinot Noir with incredible depth and tension. In a warm year like 2019, that's invaluable."

But Verzenay is only part of the story. With precision akin to a culinary artist, Bollinger's winemakers blend Pinot Noir from other villages - Aÿ, Louvois, Tauxières - to create a harmonious whole. Each terroir brings its own unique characteristics, from the power of Aÿ to the finesse of Tauxières.

The true artistry, however, unfolds in Bollinger's cellars. Here, a complex dance of fermentation and aging takes place. Over half the base wines are fermented in old oak barrels, imparting subtle spice notes without overwhelming the fruit. Then there's the reserve wines - a staggering 48% of the blend - some aged in magnums for over a decade.

"It's akin to capturing the essence of time in a bottle," one champagne expert told me. "You're tasting the essence of Pinot Noir from 2019, but with echoes of vintages stretching back to 2009. It's extraordinary."

The result is a champagne that defies easy categorization. On the nose, it's a symphony of yellow peach, citrus, and delicate spice. The palate balances ripe fruit with a laser-like mineral core - a direct expression of Verzenay's chalky soils. The finish is remarkably persistent, a testament to Pinot Noir's ability to transmit terroir.

The PN VZ19 is more than just a delicious wine; it's a statement of intent from Bollinger, challenging the champagne world to rethink what's possible with Pinot Noir. In an industry often bound by tradition, Bollinger is pushing boundaries.

"We're not interested in making the same champagne year after year," Delarue asserts. "With the PN series, we're exploring the full potential of Pinot Noir. Each release is a new discovery."

As I savored the PN VZ19, I reflected on the layers of complexity in my glass. It was more than just a blend of grapes from different villages. It was a liquid time capsule, capturing the essence of a unique vintage while honoring centuries of winemaking tradition. In an age of instant gratification, here was a champagne that demanded contemplation.

The PN VZ19 is not a champagne for everyone. At around £75 a bottle, it's a serious investment. But for those willing to take the plunge, it offers a glimpse into the future of Pinot Noir in Champagne. It's a future that's bright, bubbling with possibility, and utterly delicious.

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