Madame Bollinger’s presence can still be felt strongly in the family home at 16, rue Jules Lobet in Aÿ. Her discreet sophistication can be detected in the refinement of each detail and the deceptively simple elegance of the house. The archive building lies on the opposite side of the courtyard. Old photographs, account books and menus with surprising combinations of food and wine are safely stored away, for Madame Bollinger kept everything with the utmost care. The garden is reached through a museum of traditional tools, where rare specimens in wood and metal bear witness to a bygone era. Beneath the garden’s venerable trees lies a secret the icehouse where food was stored in the old days. Behind high walls, sounds from the village seem to fade away to nothing; it is as if time stands still in the beauty and peace of this garden.
The Bollinger spirit was born here, in the lanes and alleys of Aÿ. From the courtyard where wooden barrels are left to dry, just a few steps will take you to the wine cellar where full casks are kept. Two roads further up, at the Chaudes Terres plot, is the vat-room with its gleaming thermo-regulated stainless steel vats. From it, a staircase leads to the cellar where the bottles are disgorged. This is the place where Bollinger’s whole winemaking process is centred. As soon as you open a door the sound of constant activity reaches your ears: barrels being moved, machines being operated… Even the wine does not stay completely still: the corks used to stopper the casks move during fermentation. This perpetual motion is in stark contrast with the peaceful silence of the cellars where, in the muffled coolness of age-old passages, the wine patiently waits until it is ready.
A family-owned House from the heart of the Champagne wine-growing area, Bollinger is nonetheless present in over 100 countries. From the very beginning, the House has given priority to promoting its wines abroad. Bollinger’s very close relationship with England began in 1858 when Joseph Bollinger met Ludwig Mentzendorff, a wine shipper who had recently set up in London. Their strong friendship was at the root of a lasting relationship of trust which still continues today, and which has made Bollinger the most British of champagnes! Throughout the world, the House and its agents share a strong foundation of common values. Bollinger has made the challenging choice of building enduring relationships with their agents to ensure a quality distribution network.
The relationship between Bollinger and the British secret agent goes back to the years when the latter was an exclusively literary hero. Champagne produced by the Aÿ-based House appeared in 1956 in Ian Fleming’s fourth Bond novel, Diamonds are Forever. In 1979, as 007 pursued his adventures on the silver screen, the relationship reached a crucial turning point: Christian Bizot, Bollinger’s Chairman, met Albert R. Broccoli, producer of the James Bond saga. It was the start of a strong friendship between the two families, which was to seal the legendary association between Her Majesty’s secret agent and the champagne to which Queen Elizabeth awarded her Royal Warrant. For 007 and Bollinger, which has featured in Bond films since Live and Let Die, share a certain number of values: a passion for excellence, a sense of refinement, and consummate elegance.