The Bollinger champagne House has created prestigious champagnes with character, distinguished by their elegance and complexity, since 1829. These outstanding wines so impressed the Court of England that the House was awarded the Royal Warrant in 1884.
The House’s 164 hectares are planted with 85% of Grand Cru and Premier Cru vines, spread over seven main vineyards: Aÿ, Avenay, Tauxières, Louvois et Verzenay are planted with Pinot Noir, Cuis with Chardonnay and Champvoisy with Pinot Meunier. Bollinger is one of a very few champagne Houses to produce the majority of their own grapes for their blends. Pinot Noir represents 60% of the House’s vineyard, corresponding to the exact proportion of this demanding grape variety in the Special Cuvée blend. Complex and powerful, it provides Bollinger wines with their remarkable structure. Another of Bollinger’s distinctive features are two plots, the Clos Saint-Jacques and Chaudes Terres, which have never succumbed to phylloxera, the disease which ravaged almost all of the Champagne wine-growing area in the early 20th century. These ungrafted vines are entirely tended by hand and reproduced using a form of layering called provignage, thereby providing the means to preserve this extraordinary heritage from which the very exclusive Vieilles Vignes Françaises cuvée is produced.
The Bollinger vines are an integral part of the geography of the Champagne region, their straight rows, which count for some of the most tightly planted in the world, creating a highly recognisable landscape. To preserve this harmony, the House constantly improves its vineyard by replacing iron stakes by pine posts, planting flowers and installing pristine boundary markers.
In 1911, Georges Bollinger’s British agent gave him the idea for the name Special Cuvée – "special" written the English way, without an accent. He thought the French expression "Brut sans année" was no match for such a subtle Champagne… More than a hundred years later, the name of Bollinger’s key figure Champagne still symbolizes both its expertise and its history. The Special Cuvée is the result of the delicate blending between harvest grapes and a majority of reserve wines, including some, aged in magnums for more than 15 years in Bollinger's cellars.
The Special Cuvée is blended with 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, 15% Meunier and over 85% Grands and Premiers crus. The wines are cellar aged for more than twice the time required by the appellation and the dosage is moderate, at eight to nine grams per litre.
To the eye, the Special Cuvée is a golden colour, which is typical of black grape varieties. It has very fine bubbles and a beautiful aromatic complexity on the nose, with ripe fruit, spicy aromas and hints of roasted apples, apple compote and peaches. The palate has a subtle combination of structure, length and vivacity, with bubbles like velvet and flavours of pear, brioche and spice, underpinned with notes of fresh walnut. The Special Cuvée would be a superb match with grilled lobster and buttered samphire.