Who: This eponymous estate was founded in 1829 by three gentlemen: the Count of Villermont, Athanase Louis Emmannuel Hennequin, local winemaker Paul Renaudin, and businessman Jacques Bollinger. As it was deemed unseemly at the time for a nobleman to link their name to entrepreneurial activities, the company was originally called Renaudin Bollinger. However, the next twenty years saw Jacques marry the Count’s daughter and inherit his part of the business before Renaudin passed with no heirs and left his part of the business also. As such, in 1854, the estate became Renamed Société Jacques Bollinger and has remained family-owned ever since.
What: Bollinger are famed for producing more muscular Champagnes with body, depth, and power. As well as sourcing almost all their fruit from their own estate and from a mixture of premier cru and grand cru sites, they also work extensively with barrel-fermentation and ageing. They currently own over 3,000 oak barrels, with an average age of 50 years.
This Wine: The Special Cuvée is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Meunier sourced almost exclusively from grand cru and premier cru vineyards. To deliver the typical Bolly style, they use a large proportion of reserve wines that are aged in magnums (known to be better ageing vessels) for between 5 and 15 years. The final wine is then aged for an extended period on the lees for added creamy texture and complexity.
Why I love it: Bolly really is one of the greatest Champagnes out there and as one of the most famous Champenoise, Lilly Bollinger, once said, “I only drink Champagne 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 in a hurry and drink it when I am; otherwise I never touch the stuff unless I am thirsty.” I don’t think I can give a better reason than that!