The bubbly of choice of James Bond, Bollinger is a famous champagne house located in Ay, Champagne.
Its history is an interesting one. It was formed in 1829 from the vision of a young nobleman; Athanase de Villemort (who fought in the American War of Independence), who was prevented from being in the trade by his distinguished lineage. To circumvent this, he met two characters; one Joseph Bollinger (a German who had moved to Champagne to try his hand) and one Paul Renaudin, and arrange to make Champagne on his behalf. Bollinger mastered the sales pitch while Renaudin created the wines. In 1837 Bollinger married Athanase’s daughter, Louise-Charlotte.
Via a series of successions, Bollinger remained in family hands and continued the line with the appointment of Jacques Bollinger to helm at the young age of 24. With his fluent English, Jacques cemented Bollinger’s place with Aristocracy across the English Channel. He also helped guide the house through tough times such as the great recession and World War II, until his death at the height of the conflict. With his death, his wife became a Veuve (widow) and continued to elevate the house until the late 1970’s when she too passed.
The continuation of the family line leading the house was maintained until 2008, when they agreed to allow Jérôme Philipon to take the helm. The decision was not taken lightly, but Philipon’s skills and nous were deciding factors in appointing him to maintain the ever-growing brand and implement new technologies, all the while preserving Bollinger’s traditional expertise and quality.
Special Cuvee, as reviewed here – is the entry level Bollinger, however it is supplemented with a very robust set of reserve wines to ensure quality from all kinds of grape growing seasons – good or bad. Bollinger is also very particular in the way Special Cuvée is made and stored to extract the most out of it.
Little wonder why 007 appears to be so fussy and on-point with his drink game.
From: Ay, Champagne, France
Cost & Source: ~$75 a Bottle from most Liquor Stores
Blend Ratio: Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier/Chardonnay (60/15/25)
Aging: 3 Years or more
Sipped: November 2016
In The Glass:
Look: A lovely soft golden hue with good translucence and a good amount of small sized fizz.
Smell: Bollinger’s aroma is soft, with tropical, fruity notes.
Taste: Bollinger delivers an amazingly strong performance on introduction, with the toasted honey notes evident of its aging coming through with great, solid depth. It has a nice dose of sweetness to it, but not overpoweringly so, and activates the taste buds on the tongue nice and wide. Here you will encounter flavours of crisp light citrus and trace of grapefruit, with young fresh strawberries and a fresh picked red apple.
It also develops with barely any acidic sensations on the tongue, just a pleasant, very well balanced dry sensation that stays on the tastebuds, leaving with a slow fade – which makes it optimal for food matching.
Notes: A few years ago, Bollinger changed the shape of its bottles back to a style reminiscent of earlier days in champagne (wide waist with a skinny, tall neck) – with a claim that it improves the flavour when the contents are fermenting. This is why it is a different shape than most other houses.
Party Potential: If you can absorb the price, Bollinger Special Cuvee is certainly one of the best NV Champagnes you can provide to guests. My recommendation is should you be planning a big party, keep an eye out for sales where the price per bottle can be reduced to around $65 per bottle. It is also a standout BYO offering as everyone at the table (should you wish to share) will in all likelihood enjoy it!
As a Gift: It would make an excellent present for anyone if you are looking to spend under $100 and can suit just about any celebration. It is a high quality, reputable champagne, and can be found in gift boxes.
At Home: Unless you buy it almost exclusively, I would save one for sudden celebrations of good magnitude. Save it to have at home with your closest family and friends. A bit too special for the thank goodness its Friday evening toast with the significant other.
Matching: Bollinger is an amazing match with Sushi (BYO restaurant potential – but save it for a nice place) and cured meat and cheese trays – but make a effort and hunt out some good stuff!
Score & Verdict:
The dream. Style, grace, good taste, good family line, warm character and yet somehow still accessible. Any experience will leave you reminiscing for a while, if not craving the next encounter.
At $75 I feel it is wonderful value for the quality.
How did I drink it?
I took one down the coast to a lake-side retreat and shared it with my partner and friends. Everyone loved it and some don’t always drink wines!
How did you drink it?
And how did you find it? Let me know!
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