Bollinger is one of the most prestigious champagne brands in the world. With its high profile image and clever marketing campaigns, this sparkling wine brand conquered an important role in the gastronomy world.
Top chefs from all over the world have Bollinger on the wine list and it is the preferred brand of many sommeliers and wine lovers worldwide. The Champagne house cannot be visited without an invitation, so we were very happy when we were invited for a guided tour and Champagne lunch at Bollinger.
During the day we had an interesting tour of the wine vineyards, a visit to the cellars, the cooper’s workshop, the casks room and a tasting of the different Bollinger varieties. We discovered the secret that makes Bollinger one of the most qualitative champagne brands: the grapes. Bollinger uses only grapes of the highest quality: up to 60% Grand Cru and 30% Premier Cru.
Next to the grapes, the ageing on wooden barrels are important for the taste as well: all vintage Champagnes (= millésimées) and a part of the basic Champagnes are aged on oak. Moreover, Bollinger is the only champagne house in the world that ages its reserve wines on cork magnum bottles, under slight pressure and during around 15 years. A unique system in the Champagne region!
During the lunch we tasted different kinds of Bollinger and discovered this champagne can easily compete with a wine pairing arrangement! The Bollinger Rosé was our favourite: a Special Cuvee blend that consists of 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay and 15 % Pinot Meunier. An interesting sparkling wine with a beautiful colour and delicate aromas of red fruit, while keeping the typical Bollinger deepness.
The following text is partially copied from the Bollinger website http://www.champagne-bollinger.com.
The independent Bollinger champagne House has created prestigious champagnes with character, distinguished by their elegance and complexity, since 1829. These outstanding wines are the result of rigorous attention to detail, for Bollinger accepts nothing less than excellence. Each and every detail represents a quest for a certain form of perfection.
The Bollinger vineyard covers 164 hectares, most of which are classified Grand or Premier cru. Pinot Noir predominates, a demanding grape variety with an intense character which forms the backbone of the Bollinger style.
Continuity of style is ensured by an exceptional collection of over 600,000 reserve magnums, making Bollinger the only champagne House with such a wide and precise palette of aromas for their blends. As a guarantee of supreme quality, the best crus are vinified in wood thanks to a stock of 3,000 small, aged casks. The House lets its wines mature for twice as long as the appellation requirement.
The underground world of the House’s cellars reveals the full importance of time at Bollinger’s. After primary fermentation in small stainless steel or wooden casks the wine is bottled in the spring and taken down to rest in the pervading silence of the chalk cellars; Special Cuvée champagne will remain there for at least three years and vintage cuvees for much longer. It is this long period of rest that develops the extraordinarily delicate aromas of the wine and gives the bubbles their smooth texture.
Bollinger’s pursuit of excellence does not stop with the winemaking process. Riddling and disgorging of all vintage wines, with their natural cork stoppers, is still carried out by hand. The House has always striven to keep the natural balance of its wines and adds very little extra sugar. Bollinger is also uncompromising in its choice to allow bottles to rest for three months after disgorging to give the wine all the time it needs to stabilize.
La Grande Année and La Grande Année Rosé, the House’s prestige cuvees, are cogent demonstrations of a vintage year’s extraordinary qualities. Vinified exclusively in casks, they illustrate Bollinger’s interpretation of a grape harvest. The outstanding Bollinger R.D. cuvée takes these vintages to an even higher level with a remarkably long period of aging on lees. This is champagne that truly demonstrates the advantages of the passing years.
Entering the Bollinger cooper’s workshop (the last resident cooper of the Champagne region) is like stepping back through time. His neatly organised tools hark back to another age. Cooperage is a highly skilled craft: each one of Bollinger’s 3,000 aged barrels, of which some are nearly 100 years old, requires great attention.
BOND – Four decades of British elegance
The relationship between Bollinger and the British secret agent goes back to the years when the latter was an exclusively literary hero. Champagne produced by the Aÿ-based House appeared in 1956 in Ian Fleming’s fourth Bond novel, Diamonds are Forever. In 1973, as 007 pursued his adventures on the silver screen, the relationship reached a crucial turning point: Christian Bizot, Bollinger’s Chairman, met Albert R. Broccoli, producer of the James Bond saga.
It was the start of a strong friendship between the two families, which was to seal the legendary association between Her Majesty’s secret agent and the champagne to which Queen Elizabeth awarded her Royal Warrant. For 007 and Bollinger, which has featured in Bond films since Live and Let Die, share a certain number of values: a passion for excellence, a sense of refinement, and consummate elegance.
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