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The Bollinger champagne House has created prestigious champagnes with character, distinguished by their elegance and complexity, since 1829.
The story began with Athanase de Villermont, the youngest son of a noble family. A great soldier who shone during the American War of Independence, he inherited an extensive estate from his family in the Aÿ region. He immediately foresaw the extraordinary potential of the wines of Champagne, but as an aristocrat he was forbidden to become involved in any sort of trade.
Upon meeting Joseph Bollinger, a widely travelled German who left his country to learn about the Champagne wine trade, and Paul Renaudin, a local man who was fascinated by the world of wine. The firm of Renaudin-Bollinger & Cie was founded on 6th February 1829. Joseph took care of sales and Paul of the cellar. Athanase had founded a champagne House that was to endure through the centuries.
Owning 164 hectares of vineyards of which 85 per cent are Grand Cru and Premier Cru vines, spread over seven main vineyards: Aÿ, Avenay, Tauxières, Louvois et Verzenay, planted with Pinot Noir, Cuis with Chardonnay and Champvoisy with Pinot Meunier. Bollinger is one of the few champagne Houses to produce the majority of their own grapes for their blends. Pinot Noir represents sixty per cent of the House's vineyards, and this is the predominant grape in the Special Cuvée blend. Complex and powerful, it provides Bollinger wines with their remarkable structure.
Another unique character of Bollinger wines is that the best crus are vinified in wood thanks to a stock of 3,000 small, aged casks. The House lets its wines mature for twice as long as the appellation requirement as they believe that great Champagne needs time to develop its full character.
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.
Bollinger never yields to the easy option: wherever ancestral techniques have proved to guarantee the highest quality, they are preserved however challenging this choice might prove. Hand riddling, reserve magnums and vintage cuvées stoppered with natural corks, and a resident cooper: the House proudly perpetuates ancient skills and valuable crafts. Bollinger is the first champagne House to obtain the highly respected Patrimoine Vivant (living heritage) seal of quality which rewards exceptional craftsmanship and skill.
In 2008, for the first time in its history, the House placed its future into the care of a Chairman who was not a family member. Their choice fell on Jérôme Philipon, originally from the Champagne region, who had led an impressive career with large industrial groups. The choice might be unexpected - but Bollinger has never hesitated to reject conformity for the good of the House and its wines!
With the Bollinger family's support, Jérôme Philipon has extended his predecessor's programme of modernisation and investment. The House has continued to preserve its traditional expertise while incorporating the best of new technologies for the future development of the brand, both in terms of quality and commercial growth.