The underground world of the House’s cellars reveals the full importance of time at Bollinger’s. After primary fermentation in small stainless steel or wooden casks the wine is bottled in the spring and taken down to rest in the pervading silence of the chalk cellars; Special Cuvée champagne will remain there for at least three years and vintage cuvees for much longer. It is this long period of rest that develops the extraordinarily delicate aromas of the wine and gives the bubbles their smooth texture. Each year, some of the very best wines are added to the House’s exceptional collection of 800,000 reserve magnums which are kept for blending Special Cuvée. Stoppered with natural corks during a light secondary fermentation, these magnums enable each wine, from every cru and every plot, to reveal the infinite subtlety of their bouquet and to develop their full complexity while being protected from oxidation. This is a luxury that gives Bollinger the opportunity of letting wines mature over many years before being used. The art of using reserve wines has reached absolute perfection!
Bollinger’s pursuit of excellence does not stop with the winemaking process. Riddling and disgorging of all vintage wines, with their natural cork stoppers, is still carried out by hand. The House has always striven to keep the natural balance of its wines and adds very little extra sugar. Bollinger is also uncompromising in its choice to allow bottles to rest for three months after disgorging to give the wine all the time it needs to stabilize. The finishing touch is given in a brand new building at Oger, set in the Côte des Blancs vineyards, where modern technology and perfection go hand in hand. Here, amidst the bustle of machinery, the bottles are at last clad in the House colours. Labelled and packaged, they are finally ready to be shipped to clients the world over.
Bollinger does not seek to produce vintage cuvées at all costs. It is only done when a grape harvest turns out to be absolutely exceptional: grapes must be perfectly ripe and present an ideal balance between sugar and acids. The House’s uncompromising commitment to according vintage status to only the very best of years has given rise to the name of this outstanding cuvée. La Grande Année and La Grande Année Rosé, the House’s prestige cuvees, are cogent demonstrations of a vintage year’s extraordinary qualities. Vinified exclusively in casks, they illustrate Bollinger’s interpretation of a grape harvest. The outstanding Bollinger R.D. cuvée takes these vintages to an even higher level with a remarkably long period of aging on lees. This is a champagne that truly demonstrates the advantages of the passing years.