Nicknamed ‘Bolly’ by devotees who view this independent family-owned brand( founded in 1829) as the ‘aristocrat of champagne’, the House of Bollinger, with its uncompromising rich and powerful style of classic Pinot-dominant champagnes offering great potential longevity and complexity, is known to have ‘a certain idea of champagne’ based on proud family traditions. Bollinger’s rigorous approach to champagne-making centres around using only the first pressing of high quality grapes from vineyards in the Marne (ie. Bollinger never uses grapes from the Aube region).
The name ‘Special Cuvée’ was introduced for Bollinger’s non-vintage champagne in 1911, at the suggestion of William Folks from its London agency, Mentzendorff. Folks felt the wines showed far too much finesse to be called ordinary ‘non-vintage champagne’. Always aged for a minimum of three to four years prior to release and containing on average 10 per cent reserve wines (up to 15 years old), at least half of the wines used for the Special Cuvée are cask-fermented – which makes Bollinger Special Cuvée one of the most complex and long-lived non-vintage champagnes on the market. Its somewhat austere character upfront combined with traces of oakiness on the finish can surprise champagne lovers unfamiliar with the House, but this unique signature also makes Bollinger easy to recognise in a blind tasting. A classic, old school 75 per cent black grape blended champagne, ‘Special Cuvée’ is the purest expression of Bollinger style, characterised by its vinosity, freshness and finesse. With more than 150 hectares of primarily Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards at its disposal, Bollinger’s holdings supply 70 per cent of the grapes required, which allows for strict quality control of both fruit and wines.