Bollinger: 2014 to be the year of R.D.6th February, 2014 by Patrick Schmitt
This year will see Bollinger place a special emphasis on the sales and positioning of its late-release and recently disgorged prestige cuvée vintage Champagne called R.D.
In an interview with the drinks business in Champagne last month, Bollinger’s CEO Jérôme Philippon said the house was shifting its focus from rosé last year to R.D. for this year due to a number of reasons, but primarily because the brand now has the stock.
“For Bollinger, 2014 is the year of R.D,” he stated.
Explaining the comment, he initially said that he likes to focus on a particular part of the Bollinger portfolio each year.
“In the last few years I have felt that it’s more exciting for our agents and customers to focus on a few things, so I have decided a theme for each year,” he explained.
Back in 2012, the emphasis was placed on the brand’s James Bond cinematic tie-up with the release of Skyfall, as well as the launch of Bollinger’s new bottle shape, referred to as 1846 because the packaging was inspired by a bottle of Bollinger from that year found in the company’s cellars.
Then, for last year, the theme was Bollinger rosé, which proved so successful, Philippon told db that the brand “ran out of stock by September” meaning that the pink Champagne is “on full allocation on all formats”.
As a result, Bollinger’s pink Champagnes, including its vintage rosé, now account for 8% of the brand’s total worldwide sales.
For this year, he stressed that the focus was R.D, Bollinger’s late-release and recently disgorged prestige cuvée vintage Champagne.
The RD stands for récemment dégorgé (or recently disgorged) although Philippon said that he wanted to market the wine according to its abbreviated name.
“The brand is R.D,” he said, “and while wine buffs know it stands for recently disgorged, the concept is hard for others to understand, and the words are ugly.”
Looking back, Philippon said that over the past five years Bollinger has had “little” R.D. to sell – the house only puts aside Champagnes for extended ageing in their cellars if the vintage is exceptional.
The brand had a “limited stock” of the 1997 vintage according to Philippon, while the next R.D. release was from the 99 vintage, but due to an issue with cork-related problems, the RD 99 was not released in bottle, but just magnums and jeroboams which were not affected by the closure-related defect.
Following this, the ripe and forward 2000 vintage was only released as an R.D. in Jeroboam due to the slower ageing in this large format, while Bollinger made no vintage Champagne at all from the problematic 2001 harvest in the region.
“Now we are ready with the 2002,” he said, “so on Tuesday 25 March we are launching the R.D. with the 2002 vintage with enough quantities in bottles, magnums and jeroboams.
“So this is the year of R.D. because now we have enough of a wine that deserves to be called R.D. which is extremely fresh and has incredible ageing potential.”
As part of this increased emphasis, he stressed that he wanted to increase the “cachet” of the rare Champagne.
Finally, Philippon pointed out that the 2002 vintage was the 50th in R.D’s history – the launch vintage was 1952, which was released in 1961.
As for next year’s theme, 2015 will see Bollinger once more cement its association with the world’s favourite fictional secret agent as next year will see another James Bond film, which will again feature Daniel Craig as 007.
The last Bond movie, Skyfall, which was screened in October 2012, saw Bollinger release a special edition of its 2002 vintage housed in a gun silencer shaped gift box with a combination lock – opened using the code: 007.
2015 will mark 42 years since Bollinger developed an on-screen relationship with the fictional character created by Ian Fleming.