Champagne Bollinger, a virtuoso of Champagne wines
It is one of the oldest Champagne houses, and also one of the most famous. In fact, a certain James Bond made it his favourite champagne: it is not uncommon to see him on the big screen with a glass or a bottle of Bollinger champagne in his hand. Founded at the beginning of the 19th century, this house has managed to distinguish itself by offering champagnes that are astonishingly consistent and intense. Their style is marked by Pinot Noir, a grape variety as demanding as the house that produces it. Powerful, refined and complex, Bollinger champagnes are available in a wide collection. These golden-coloured bottles with their fine, velvety bubbles are perfect for both celebrations and exceptional moments.
History of the House of Bollinger
The House of Bollinger is above all the fruit of a long family history. It was founded in 1829 by Athanase de Villermont, a nobleman who inherited a vast estate in a region whose wines he appreciated: Champagne. But his aristocratic status forbade him to trade in his own name. This is why he joined forces with Joseph Bollinger and Paul Renaudin, two experts whose surnames followed each other on the labels of the champagnes until 1960.
Several generations succeeded one another at the head of the House of Bollinger. However, it really developed under the aegis of Elisabeth Law de Lauriston-Boubers. Widowed by Jacques Bollinger at the age of 42, she took over the reins, firmly and boldly. The woman nicknamed Tante Lily modernised the house, developed the brand internationally and innovated by focusing on the vineyard, pinot noir and low sugar champagnes. She gave her letters of nobility to the House of Bollinger, which she managed until 1971.
Presentation of the Bollinger vineyard
Located near Epernay, in the Marne region, the Bollinger vineyard has 174 hectares of vines, mostly classified as Grand Cru and Premier Cru. They are divided into 7 terroirs:
- Pinot noir : Aÿ, Avenay, Tauxières, Louvois and Verzenay
- Chardonnay : Cuis
- Meunier : Champvoisy
Bollinger is one of the only champagne houses to produce the vast majority of the grapes used in its blends. Another particularity of this more than two hundred year old house: it still exploits two plots in Aÿ miraculously spared by the phylloxera crisis that ravaged the French vineyards in the 19th century. They give birth to the exceptional cuvée Vieilles Vignes Françaises.
Other singularities of the Bollinger house are a long rest in the cellar and an incredible collection of reserve magnums, as well as the implementation of ancestral know-how such as the stirring of the bottles by hand or the presence of a cooper in residence.
Bollinger champagnes: presentation and tasting tips
The House of Bollinger offers different types of champagnes, the most prestigious of which are vintage.
These brut champagnes are made from cuvées whose names are pronounced in the English style and are mainly composed of pinot noir, with the addition of chardonnay and meunier. More than 80% of the grapes come from parcels classified as Grands Crus and Premiers Crus. Since 1911, these champagnes express all the know-how of the Bollinger house. Their aromas of ripe fruits and spices and their very fine bubbles accompany raw fish, especially sushi, as well as shellfish and white meats. To be enjoyed at a temperature of 10-12°. After a minimum of 3 years of cellar ageing, they can be further aged before tasting.
Here too, Pinot Noir dominates over Chardonnay and Meunier, as well as the Grands and Premiers Crus. Small red fruits and spices constitute its aromatic palette. The fine bubbles and the tannic side of this rosé champagne are the perfect accompaniment to shellfish such as lobster or langoustine, Japanese cuisine and fruity, low-sugar desserts. It should be drunk immediately after release, preferably at a temperature of 10-12°.
La Grande Année and La Grande Année Rosé
These prestigious cuvées are made from a single harvest, only in years when the crop is considered ideal. The latest Grande Année vintage dates from 2008. It is composed of more than 70% Pinot Noir, followed by Chardonnay. The Bollinger Grande Année Rosé 2007 is a blend of a vintage champagne and the rare red wine of the Côte aux Enfants. These champagnes should be reserved for great moments of tasting and gastronomy. It is recommended to serve them at 8-10°.
Only the greatest vintages of the Bollinger house are elevated to the rank of R.D., two letters that stand for Récemment Dégorgé. Their aromatic richness and generous mouthfeel accompany the most refined dishes. These exceptional champagnes should be drunk at a temperature of 8°, shortly after disgorging. However, they have great ageing potential.
Vieille Vignes Françaises
These exceptional champagnes with a heritage flavour are made exclusively from pinot noir (blanc de noirs). Rare and intense, they are to be reserved for rare and solemn moments. These wines are recommended to sublimate white caviar and white truffles. The Vieilles Vignes Françaises 2007 vintage produced 3,132 numbered bottles.
La Côte aux Enfants
Bollinger also produces a red wine for connoisseurs. It is composed of 100% pinot noir Grand Cru grown on a 4 hectare plot in Aÿ.