Bollinger Special Cuvee NV - help decoding the cork for disgorgement date

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Gautam Sareen
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Bollinger Special Cuvee NV - help decoding the cork for disgorgement date

#1 Post by Gautam Sareen »

Does anyone know how to decode the code on the cork to figure out disgorgement date? Thanks, Gautam
Gautam

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Re: Bollinger Special Cuvee NV - help decoding the cork for disgorgement date

#2 Post by Brad Baker »

Not on the cork, but on the bottle. Below is from the 2nd issue of my newsletter (April 2009)

How to decode the approximate disgorgement date from a bottle of Bollinger (any cuvee)

1. On each bottle there is a lot number that is normally found printed on the neck foil of the bottle
2. This code will have the following pattern: L###### where # represents a number
3. These numbers correlate to the following LYDDDBB (L412604) where:
• Y is the last digit in the year; 4 for 2004
• DDD is the day of the year; 126 for the 126th day of the year (early May)
• BB is the batch number for the day; 04 for the 4th batch of the day
• This bottle L412604 was disgorged between January and May of 2004

So why isn’t this the actual disgorgement date? Bollinger actually uses this code to trace the labeling date of the bottle, but it will get you within 3 months of the disgorgement date (meaning the bottles are labeled up to 3 months after disgorgement). To determine the base vintage of the Bollinger NV wines, you can normally take 4 years off of the disgorgement date to get the base vintage, but depending on when the cuvee changes you can sometimes be off by a year (email Bollinger your lot number to ensure correctness).
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Gautam Sareen
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Re: Bollinger Special Cuvee NV - help decoding the cork for disgorgement date

#3 Post by Gautam Sareen »

Many thanks Brad - rockstar.

Checked one of my current stash, they are L930205. So, using your method, I am guessing 2005 juice. I have to confess this current batch is a little lacking compared to previous batches in spite of me having aged it for 12 mons in my cellar. Will give it some more time.

Thanks again, very helpful.
Gautam

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Re: Bollinger Special Cuvee NV - help decoding the cork for disgorgement date

#4 Post by Brad Baker »

Gautum,

You are close to the breaking point of the 2006 base (with a lot of 2005 and then older reserves from Magnum), but from what I know you are correct, you have the 2005 base (with a lot of 2004 and then older reserves from Magnum).

The current release is the 2007 base and it is really good; the 2006 base was really good too; I also really liked the bottlings based on 2004, 2003, and 2002 vintages. The 2005 base was okay, but not up to normal Bollinger standards IMO.
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Joe G a l e w s k i
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Bollinger Special Cuvee NV - help decoding the cork for disgorgement date

#5 Post by Joe G a l e w s k i »

I was looking for this information, and found it here. Thanks Brad!

It seems they're now using 2 digits for the year. My current bottle is L13 182 01

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Bollinger Special Cuvee NV - help decoding the cork for disgorgement date

#6 Post by Ethan Abraham »

Just opened a bottle - L1417811

This would indicate mid-2014 bottling. I purchased in Nov 14 and was told at the time that it was a bottle that had been purchased from a cellar and was disgorged 3-4 years earlier. Has the coding system changed, or was the salesperson incorrect?

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Bollinger Special Cuvee NV - help decoding the cork for disgorgement date

#7 Post by Brad Baker »

Ethan,

Unless you have a very old bottle (sold well over 10 years ago), your bottle was disgorged sometime in the 2nd quarter of 2014.

Tangent - Bolllinger has been an offender in my eyes of pushing bottles to market far too quickly after disgorgement so that is why you were able to purchase it so close to its disgorgement date. The drive for cash over quality is one of the issues this house is currently having IMO especially as they are raising prices and the quality has become uneven across the entire line.

Does your bottle look like current Bolly NV's being sold? If the label and bottle shape match then there is no way you have something other than a bottle disgorged in Q2 of 2014.
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Bollinger Special Cuvee NV - help decoding the cork for disgorgement date

#8 Post by Michael S. Monie »

Brad Baker wrote:Ethan,

Unless you have a very old bottle (sold well over 10 years ago), your bottle was disgorged sometime in the 2nd quarter of 2014.

Tangent - Bolllinger has been an offender in my eyes of pushing bottles to market far too quickly after disgorgement so that is why you were able to purchase it so close to its disgorgement date. The drive for cash over quality is one of the issues this house is currently having IMO especially as they are raising prices and the quality has become uneven across the entire line.

Does your bottle look like current Bolly NV's being sold? If the label and bottle shape match then there is no way you have something other than a bottle disgorged in Q2 of 2014.
So what is the base for this bottling?
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Bollinger Special Cuvee NV - help decoding the cork for disgorgement date

#9 Post by Ethan Abraham »

Brad Baker wrote:Ethan,

Unless you have a very old bottle (sold well over 10 years ago), your bottle was disgorged sometime in the 2nd quarter of 2014.

Tangent - Bolllinger has been an offender in my eyes of pushing bottles to market far too quickly after disgorgement so that is why you were able to purchase it so close to its disgorgement date. The drive for cash over quality is one of the issues this house is currently having IMO especially as they are raising prices and the quality has become uneven across the entire line.

Does your bottle look like current Bolly NV's being sold? If the label and bottle shape match then there is no way you have something other than a bottle disgorged in Q2 of 2014.
Just going off the picture on the website, yes.

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Bollinger Special Cuvee NV - help decoding the cork for disgorgement date

#10 Post by Brad Baker »

Michael S. Monie wrote: So what is the base for this bottling?
Most likely 2010 base with a lot of 2009 reserve wines and then a small amount of reserve wines aged in Magnum from all sorts of years prior to 2009.
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