White and rosé Champagnes
Since its founding in 1829, Champagne Bollinger has always been marked by great characters. Whether it's the dashing Jacques Bollinger who flew fighter planes in the First World War, the irrepressible Elisabeth 'Lily' Bollinger who raised the house to new levels of fame, or fiction’s greatest super spy, James Bond who frequently extols the Champagne's virtues. It is this collection of passionate individuals, past and present, and their commitment to excellence who have created such an inimitable brand.
The other important character in the story is Pinot Noir, the grape that forms the core of every Bollinger blend. Difficult to master, the finesse, delicate aromatics and ageing potential it brings are worth the effort. And to produce the very best grapes, only the very best vineyards will do. Over the centuries, Bolliger has acquired vineyards in some of the most celebrated sites in Champagne. Of its 179 hectares, 85% are in Grand and Premier cru vineyards. These are scattered across seven sites. Among them are two special vineyards, the Clos St Jacques and Chaudes Terres. These plots never succumbed to phylloxera, a blight which ravaged vineyards across Europe in the 19th century. Ungrafted and tended entirely by hand, the vines growing there today are the direct descendants of those lucky survivors. It is from these small plots that the house produces the celebrated, pure Pinot Noir cuvée, 'Vieilles Vignes Françaises', one of the rarest of all Champagnes. Another unique site is La Côte Aux Enfants, just four hectares outside the town of Aÿ. Situated on a steep slope with perfect orientation, in only the best vintages Bollinger produces another regional rarity, a still Pinot Noir. The house's uniqueness continues in the winery. Bollinger is the last house in Champagne to employ a resident cooper. Bollinger continues to emphasise the traditional use of barrels – largely replaced by stainless steel in the 20th century – for vinifying its best wines. Today, Bollinger has the largest collection of barrels in the region, 4,000 in total. Some of these are over a century old and so need exacting care and attention. The final flourish in the winemaking process is the use of reserve wines. At any one time, Bollinger stores as many as 800,000 magnums filled with reserve wines for its Special Cuvée and Rosé blends. These 'aromatic bombs' contribute to the intensity and complexity of the non-vintage wines and are the signature of the house style.
Visitors are welcome by appointment, and any visitor to Champagne should seize the opportunity to wander the cellars and courtyard and drink in the atmosphere of this incredible domain.