One of the great historic houses in Champagne, Bollinger remains independently owned and operated. This Champagne house has an exceedingly rich history. Family-managed since 1889, Bollinger maintains more than 150 hectares of vineyards. They produce several labels of their Champagne, including the Vieilles Vignes Françaises, Grande Année and R.D. as well as the non-vintage Special Cuvée. Initially founded in 1829 by Hennequin de Villermont, Paul Renaudin and Jacques Bollinger, the champagne house has roots dating back to 1585 when the Hennequins, one of the Bollinger founding families, owned land in Cramant. In 1803 Jacques Joseph Placide Bollinger was born in Ellwangen, in the kingdom of Wurttemberg, in modern day western Germany. In1822, he moved to the Champagne region and began work at the Champagne house of Muller Ruinart, which today no longer exists.
The Champagne house Renaudin Bollinger was founded on February 6, 1829 in Aÿ by Hennequin de Villermont, Paul Levieux Renaudin and Jacques Bollinger. Founder Jacques Joseph Bollinger married Charlotte de Villermont and their two sons Joseph and Georges would later take over Bollinger and began expanding the family estate by purchasing vineyards in nearby villages. The sons also developed the image of the brand, and the British began to take notice of these Champagnes — such as when Bollinger received a Royal Warrant in 1884 from Queen Victoria.
In 1918 Jacques Bollinger, the son of Georges, took over Bollinger. Jacques married Lily, who later took over Bollinger in 1941. Lily expanded production through the purchase of more vineyards, but is best known for traveling the world to promote the brand. Bollinger was modernized under the direction of Claude d'Hautefeuille, who acquired additional vineyards and developed the brand internationally. Since 1994, Ghislain de Mongolfier has managed Bollinger. A great-grandson of the founder, Mongolfier has also served as president of the Association Viticole Champenoise since 2004, after heading the Commission of Champagne for 10 years. Brilliantly, Bollinger has been well-marketed in numerous James Bond films including some of my favorites like Live and Let Die and a bottle of Bollinger appears following an epic car race in Goldeneye.
I recently had a chance to review two Bollinger wines. I was absolutely blown away with their new release non-vintage wine, the NV Champagne Bollinger ‘Special Cuvee’ Brut Champagne (WWB, 92). This shows a wonderful musty character with great richness and texture. I think it is one of the great Champagnes at this price point. Considerably more expensive but even better was the 2004 Champagne Bollinger ‘La Grand Annee’ Brut Champagne (WWB, 94) which showed even more earthy and musty terroir and great citrus and tree fruit flavors. Learn more about this special Champagne house at Here are the great Champagnes of Bollinger.
NV Champagne Bollinger ‘Special Cuvee’ Brut Champagne- The nose shows wonderful mustiness with damp earth and wet stone that connects with lemon zest and sourdough bread.The palate reveals a wonderful combination of weight and freshness with kumquat, Chalah bread, and Granny Smith apple marvelously woven together. Refreshing yet showing good mid-palate weight this outstanding effort will cellar well for a decade or more. Drink 2018-2028- 92
2004 Champagne Bollinger ‘La Grand Annee’ Brut Champagne- This golden-hued Champagne is a compelling blend of primarily Pinot Noir (66%) with lesser amounts Chardonnay (34%). This wine shows a wonderful range of aromatics from white truffle to citrus zest and baked apple, as well as hints of marzipan and nutmeg. The balance and mid-palate weight is wonderful here with white tea, honeydew melon, Pink Lady apple and candied lemon. Showing great poise and tension, this great wine is simply marvelous now but will cellar well for the next two decades. Drink 2018-2038- 94