Bollinger is the name of a Champagne house that produces exquisite sparkling wines from within France’s Champagne region.
There are currently several Champagnes produced under the Bollinger name, which include the non-vintage Special Cuvee and the vintage Vielle Vignes Francaises, Grand Annee and R.D.
Today, the Bollinger house continues to be run by members of the original founding family.
Bollinger has a history in the Champagne region that dates back as far as 1585, when one of the founding families of Bollinger, the Hennequins, owned an area of land in Cramant. During the 18th Century, the Villermont family was producing wine, though not under their family name. 1750 saw the Villermont family settle in the location that would eventually become the Bollinger brand head office.
The Bollinger brand was modernized while under the leadership of Claude d’Hautefeuille, who took on additional vineyards and began to push the brand internationally. His cousin Christian Bizot is credited with adding to worldwide distribution, along with developing the brand’s charter of quality and ethics in 1992. 1994 saw Ghislain de Mongolfier take over as manager, great grandson of the founder and former president of the Commission of Champagne for 10 years.
Bollinger Champagne is fermented in barrels of oak, which makes the product perfectly suited to cellar aging.
At the time of harvest, only the first pressing or ‘cuvee’ is used to make the final product, unless the vintage is out outstanding quality when a second pressing of Chardonnay may be used.
Bollinger operate two pressing houses to ensure the shortest possible distance between harvesting and pressing. Furthermore, whenever possible, purchased grapes are pressed at the house thereof.
The cellar master at Bollinger then analyses the pressed wine musts for quality, selling off or discarding any that do not measure up.
All vintage wine for Grand Annee use is fermented in small oak barrels, arranged according to variety of grape and origin. Oak barrels are all a minimum of four-years old so as to avoid the passing of tannins to the wine within. Bollinger is left to mature for a substantial amount of time, contributing to the overall complexity and flavor of the wine. Though the standard ruled of Champagne dictate that non-vintage requires 15 months and vintage 3 years, Bollinger age non-vintage wines for three years and vintage for around 8. The very best examples are also riddled by hand.
The Bollinger Grande Annee is described as a wonderfully complex and full-flavored Champagne, sporting rich, nutty, toasty flavors and a perfect acidity level. The slightly more modestly priced Special Cuvee is described as a rich, smoky wine with hints of marzipan and fennel adding an accent to honeyed bread, baked apple and ginger. Its intense acidity and lingering finish make it an option that simply cannot fail to hit the spot.
Ghislain de Mongolfier has used the world-famous James Bond movies to promote the Bollinger brand for decades. In the 1973 film “Live and Let Die‘, Roger Moore can be heard requesting Bollinger in his hotel. Moore again recognizes Bollinger 1975 at the top of the Eiffel Tower in ‘A View to a Kill‘ in 1985, while Pierce Brosnan favors Bollinger in 2002’s ‘Die another Day‘ and Daniel Craig follows suit in the 2006 film, ‘Casino Royale‘.
Read more in the book “Champagne [Boxed Book & Map Set]: The Essential Guide to the Wines, Producers, and Terroirs of the Iconic Region“