Bollinger PN VZ 16: a haute couture champagne that pays tribute to the terroir Pinots

Oct 7, 2021 • 3 mins

Following on from the remarkable success of its PN VZ 15 champagne, the famous Champagne house, founded in Aÿ in 1829, is launching a new version this year. How did this champagne (fast becoming iconic) come about? We recently met with Denis Bunner, deputy cellar master at Bollinger, to learn more...

The weather in Aÿ on 30 August 2021 was glorious and the harvest was fast approaching. It has been a difficult 2021 vintage. Disturbed by the April frost and outbreaks of mildew, the yields will be low. Denis Bunner took advantage of a moment's respite to taste and comment on the wines from this Champagne House famed for its vinification in oak.

Dennis is a very affable guy who is precise in his explanations. His career thus far has been impressive. After a long and distinguished stint with the CIVC (the Champagne Wine Board), this native of Alsace joined Bollinger in 2013. Upon his arrival, Gilles Descôtes (Bollinger's Cellar Manager) got his team together to create an ambitious new champagne. As he carefully pours the second edition of PN VZ into a glass, Denis tells us about the creation of this champagne that is close to achieving cult status. 

"Two years ago, Gilles Descôtes had a brilliant idea: to set his team a challenge. The brief was simple. The entire technical team and I had to present a blend crafted from the Champagne House’s finest Pinots. Until then, the iconic “Vieilles Vignes Françaises" cuvée (a blend of two plots, Chaudes Terres and Clos Saint-Jacques) was Bollinger’s only 100% Pinot Noir champagne. Gilles wanted to expand the range by creating a "haute-couture" champagne and a new expression of the grape variety for which we are famous. He also wanted to highlight the quality of the village of Verzenay, located on a chalky ridge, which gives the wines structure and a saline touch," Denis tells us.

In order to select the best blend, a blind tasting was held and, to everyone's surprise, Gilles' blend was chosen. His proposed blend was 50% wines from the 2015 vintage and 50% reserve wines. 

“The balance was perfect. You could feel the chalky softness of the Verzenay Pinots. For this second edition, we decided to stick to the same formula. It should be remembered that PN VZ is a multi-vintage champagne. Today, the base year is 2016, but among the reserve wines, there is some 2006 still aged in magnums worked by hand. Say goodbye to those Pinots that are soft and smooth, but with low acidity…."

Thanks to its terroir and its vinification process, this champagne, intended for gastronomy and champagne connoisseurs, demonstrates that a Pinot can be nervy and taut while still preserving its soft, delicate character.

PN VZ 16: RRSP 90 €