I have always had a lot of admiration for Bollinger. Created in 1829, this wine estate has always pushed its visionary projects. From the beginning, the owners have had a constant desire to grow their estate while extending the influence of the Bollinger brand.
The house took an historic turn when Elisabeth Bollinger took charge of the company. At first, she acquired new vines in Aÿ, Mutigny, Grauves and Bisseuil. Furthermore, in 1961 she created the ‘Recently Disgorged’ R.D. style which is a Champagne that has been aged on its lees for longer than usual. Lily, as she is affectionately known, raised the Bollinger brand to its legendary status. History will remember her silhouette crossing the vineyards by bicycle and her famous quote:
‘I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.’
I particularly enjoy two of their cuvées – the first being the Special Cuvée. This Champagne was named by Georges Bollinger’s British agent in 1922 – ‘special’ written the English way, without an accent. He thought that the French expression ‘Brut sans année’ did not suit such a subtle, singular Champagne.
Composed of 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay and 15% Meunier, the Special Cuvée is an atypical Champagne. Its gold in colour with very fine bubbles. We smell ripe fruit, different spicy aromas and apple compote and peaches. On the palate, it presents vivacity and structure. We can find brioche and spicy notes. I especially enjoy it with seafood like grilled crayfish or prawns.
The other cuvée I love is the Bollinger R.D. Extra Brut 2002. It also happens to be James Bond’s favourite Champagne. It is a blend of the 2002 vintage with 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. This Champagne is gold in colour with subtle highlights and the nose reveals ripe fruit and discreet notes of honey and nutmeg. On the palate, it is intense and rich, thanks to the very long maturation which is more than three times longer than required by the appellation! We find subtle flavours and lemony notes. It is a classic French wine and should be enjoyed with an old Comté or Swiss Gruyère. You could also drink it alone as an aperitif to fully engage with its complexity.
– Alexandra Parfus, Wine Cellar