Founded in 1829 by a German national and two Frenchmen, the Bollinger Champagne
house, located in Ay, has been producing Pinot based wines for almost two centuries. In that time, Bollinger has accumulated quite a following, lead by its neighbors across the English Channel.
When he’s not drinking his favorite vodka martini—shaken, not stirred—James Bond has been known to request a bottle of Bollinger. However, Bond isn’t the only Brit with a weakness for “Bolly;” Queen Victoria
issued a royal warrant in 1884, making Bollinger the official supplier to the court.
Today, Bollinger produces 100,000 cases a year, which are distributed throughout the world. Four main bottlings are produced from 150 hectares of vines in holdings throughout Champagne. The wine, often referred to as the “British style” of Champagne, is full-bodied, powerful and rich, more appropriate at the dinner table than as an aperitif, and dominated by Pinot Noir
. The house's basic Special Cuvée, which is typically austere on release, features mature notes of toffee and toasted bread due to the fact that a portion of the wine is fermented in cask and to the inclusion of older reserve wines in the blend. It typically contains 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay
and 15% Pinot Meunier.
In the best vintages, a portion of the Grande Année is set aside for later disgorgement and released as "R.D.," for "recently disgorged." The prestige cuvee, however, is Vieille Vignes Françaises, produced from low yielding vines in Clos-St. Jacques and Chaudes Terres. This extraordinarily rich wine is made from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier or a blend of the two. Only 3-5000 individually numbered bottles of Vieille Vignes Francaises are produced each year.
France is the fountainhead of the grape varieties most craved by
North American wine drinkers: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir,
Syrah, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. In fact, these grapes are widely
referred to as "international" varieties because they have been planted and
imitated all over the world.
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