Few Houses are as synonymous with Champagne as Bollinger; the eminent producers boast a decorated history, their wines as popular and revered as ever – it’s even 007’s Champagne of choice (keep a look out in the latest Bond installment!)
Bollinger have always been frontrunners in Champagne since its establishment in 1829, then known Renaudin-Bollinger & Cie, a collaboration between Athanase de Villermont, an aristocrat with a extensive family estate in the Champagne village of Aÿ, Paul Renaudin and Joseph Bollinger himself, a German man in fact who was drawn to the region. Joseph’s great-great-grandson Ghislain de Montgolfier is now head of house.
Bollinger features in WineTrust’s very own selection but in more ways than one, the House having expanded operations through numerous business ventures, in Champagne and beyond. Bollinger bring their own expertise and resources combined with local knowledge and craft, all topped with a shared vision and passion for creating wine of the best quality.
WineTrust has selected three fantastic wines from Bollinger and co, one Champagne partnership, a Crémant de Loire and even one of the leading producers in Burgundy.
Find out more about the individual brands below and the contributions Bollinger has made in creating leading wines from their respective regions.
Sticking to what they know best, Bollinger bought Ayala in 2005; an eminent Champagne House in its own right, Bollinger is just a recent chapter in it’s long and decorated history.
Ayala was one of the original eighteen ‘Grandes Marques’ Champagne houses; it dates back to 1860 when Edmond de Ayala received the magnificent Château as the dowry for his wedding. Edmond’s brother Fernand then settled in London in order to build sales, mingling with British high society and even became a close friend of the Prince of Wales, who enjoyed Champagne but found it too sweet. So Ayala released its special “drier” 1865 vintage especially for the Prince, using a much lower dosage than the norm. British connoisseurs also took to this visionary style, thus modern era of “dry Champagne” was born.
Ayala’s success continued into the 20th century; by the 1920’s the brand was one of Champagne’s finest and most revered, producing over a million bottles a year and official suppliers of England and Spain’s royal courts. This is the history Bollinger want to emulate, the combination of two highly esteemed Champagne houses has created something of a masterpiece, giving this historic estate a new lease of life and success.
Ayala Brut Majeur epitomises the dry, elegant style of the house. The blend of grapes varieties – 15% from older reserve wines – is integral to the Champagne’s overall complexity, balance and poise. Pinot Noir ensures the fullness and the intensity of the wine, while Chardonnay gives elegance, liveliness and finesse and the Pinot Meunier a delicate fresh and fruity note.
“Clean as a whistle, with notes of red and white berries and a touch of brioche. Lacy, with a creamy, mildly nutty core. Beautifully pure and focused this is a racy, refreshing and zesty style.” Nick Adams MW
A great aperitif style, but would also work really well with shellfish and sushi. Try with native oysters for real indulgence.
So often the bridesmaid! At last – a French Sparkling Wine to shout about (with a little help from the big boys). Proving that the Loire Valley can also be a front runner on the sparkling scene.
Langlois Chateau, in Saumur in the heart of the Loire Valley, for many years now has been under the ownership and direction of Champagne Bollinger. This estate has simply gone from strength to strength, but as importantly it has remained true to its values and heritage of the Loire Valley.
First of all there was a Monsieur Langlois and a Madame Chateau and they married in 1896 and they formed the Langlois Chateau company in 1912, when Edouard Langlois (already a cellar man at another firm) saw the potential to run their own sparkling wine business.
In 1973 Bollinger acquired ownership of Langlois Chateau and Michel Villedey (a son-in-law of the Bollinger family took over control). Today the company is run by Françcois Régis de Fourgeroux.
Langlois Chateau already had a fine reputation, but in the last 40 years the Bollinger investment in the vineyards and expertise in making sparkling wine has transformed them into one of the very finest producers in the region. With 73 ha of their own vineyards and Bollinger’s laser like focus on quality we think these sparkling wines are as good as any outside Champagne.
The Crémant de Loire Brut NV is an intriguing blend of whites grapes Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay with the juice from 20% Cabernet Franc (black grape) which adds real back bone and body to lift the finesse and fruit of the white grapes. These also represent a lovely marriage of white and red grapes which are fundamentally part of the Loire Valley.
All the grapes are hand harvested come from 6 different specific sites – or “Crus”- which are known to produce the finest quality grapes for sparkling wine at Langlois. Matured for at least 24 months on its lees.
“This is a really lovely zesty, crisp and refreshing sparkling wine – with notes of white flowers and blossom, bold orchard and citric fruits and a touch of minerality. Really refreshing and moorish simply enjoy on its own, but brilliant with a crab salad or sushi.” Nick Adams, MW
A benchmark Beaune. Domaine Chanson have unrivalled access to vineyard holdings and with a little helping hand from Champagne’s leading light is now a front runner in the appellation.
Beginning in the 18th century, Chanson enjoyed some of the early successes of Burgundy wine, with clientele such as Voltaire and the sister of King Louis XVI, Madame Elizabeth.
Domaine Chanson first acquired on of Beaune’s historical 16th century bastions during the time of the Revolution; it’s 8 meter thick walls and the controlled humidity and temperature conditions as a result were ideal for wine ageing, henceforth the site enjoying a much more peaceful pastime. Of the bastion’s four levels, three are dedicated to red wine production, each floor assigned to a particular vintage.
Bollinger’s Burgundy venture began in 1999 when the Champagne house took over the running of the estate. The Domaine was given a financial boost and with all the expertise Bollinger provided, alongside the intimate knowledge and deep history of Beaune and it’s vineyards, Chanson are at the top of their game.
Considered Beaune specialists, the Domaine have some of the largest and best holdings of any in this important appellation.
Grapes for this wine are sourced from some of the highest quality Burgundy terrior, the Domaine comprising 45 hectares of exclusively Premiers and Grand Cru vineyards. With such an array of vineyards along the south side of the Côte d’Or, the Domaine are able to draw upon a multitude of terroirs that best suit their production. Still, an unusual wine in that it is a selected blend of 7 different Beaune Premier Cru holdings, including Clos du Roi, Clos des Fèves and Clos des Mouches, giving the wine unique character and style.
“This is a super little Beaune – with a subtle nose of forest fruits and dark chocolate leading onto a rich and creamy palate.” Nick Adams MW
“This is a lovely, classic Pinot noir – perfumed aromatics, with flavours of dark fruits and spices. Quite full bodied, with enough complexity to keep you sipping.” Decanter 2015
Try with simply roasted red meats with their jus, especially lamb, along with duck, chicken and even mild game like Guinea Fowl.