Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Bollinger Champagne

We had an appointment with Bollinger thanks to Alcoholic Anonymous ST who helped us to arrange this :))))))))))))
*no, he's definitely not an alcoholic :P*

we were rushing from the town of Epernay after another visit at another champagne house
and asked the taxi driver in super broken french whether he can drive like Michael Schumacher, to reach Maison Bollinger in time
we didn't wanna be rude and miss our appointment

our driver shoved his hands on the air to let us know it was easy peasy
nope he ain't driving a Ferrari but just a comfy Renault
and we screeched at the doorstop of Maison Bollinger in 3 mins

"aiks....so near only?"

JS answered in amusement:"Now u know this place is really small....the town of Ay."
Maison Bollinger is so classically beautiful
u know wat I mean???

Founded in 1829, Bollinger is one of the last few remaining independent Champagne houses
well these days, everything has been being bought over by the Giant-Thirst-Hunger Corporations like LVMH
I dunno how many more independent brands will be left in 5 years time
*my company was almost...almost..... bought by LVMH a few years ago.......gawd....*
Bollinger Double 0 Seven 007 *jeng jeng jeng*
every James Bond movie featured at least a bottle of Bollinger
in Britain, it's fondly known as "Bolly"
from James Bond played by Roger Moore to Daniel Craig
Monkey and Madame Lilly Bollinger
she took over the business in 1941 after her husband died
very notable Lady in the Town of Ay

her most famous quote:
"I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it—unless I’m thirsty."
Madame Bollinger worked very hard to expand the business by purchasing more vineyards
and traveled worldwide to promote the brand

Monkey oso worked very hard.....drinking lotsa champagnes
and traveled around the world too
heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee :D
I know...it's not the same
such beautiful post-sunset taken by JS
it was almost dark when Denis the PR Director took us out for the tour that will enlightened us
we were then taken to one of their oldest vineyards across the Maison
the very old stone that marked its property
we had a good 30 mins outdoor discussing the plant
yes the the important plant that bear the beautiful pinot noir grapes to make this sparkling golden perfection

and all the challenges in maintaining a great vineyard
safe from diseases and predators *some forms of insects*
coz if it gets infected....everything has to be uprooted and GONE
GONE!!! all the hundreds years of hard work and cultivation
later we were ushered along its properties which stretches along this lil town of Ay
buildings and underground
we walked a bit more in the chill late autumn cool air
along the quiet streets of Ay
passed some houses, restaurants and was lead into another Bollinger Property

I whispered to JS: "Looks like the whole town of Ay belongs to them :P"
JS let out a small lil composed laugh
wow Bollinger still ferment their champagnes in barrels????
this practice is almost gone and disappear in Champagne region!!!!!!
these days, all Champagne Houses ferment their bubblies in stainless steel tanks

they really stick to their traditions huh?
according to Denis, Bollinger believes in malolactic fermentaion
which can only be achieved with oak barrels
thus creating a much more richer, buttery and rounder tasting champagnes
"Denis, where do u get ur oaks??? coz they certainly looked older than me."
Denis: "Hohohohohoho, we buy the oaks from Burgundy. Yes you are right, these are as old as me. They are half a century old!!!!"

that explains the streaks of red marks on the barrels
coz they were from Burgundy....hmmmmm
I wondered if that contributes to the characteristics of Bollinger Champagne
inside this preserved and controlled environment
the temperature was 17.6 degrees celcius with a humidity of 75%
that's optimum coz u dun want this place to be too dry
later, our private tour lead us to kilometres and kilometres of beautiful champanges aging inside their cellar which happened to be underground

Monkey to JS:
"psttttt....looks like they own the whole underground of Ay town too!!!"
Monkey: "Euwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!"
Denis: "Don't worry....we needs this to help in the process."

Monkey: "Those dust are thicker than my attic!!!"
*like I have one??? -_-
Denis: "It's very important that we have them, and keep them this way.....and we wash them 3 times with machines before labeling..."
actually the cellar was quite creepy
in this pic...no it's not wat it seems....
it's the entrance to another cave...not some hooded ghostly image with a hood

and we rushed through the dimly litted cellar
with Denis leading us out
I can't remember how many kilometres we walked
but we ended up at the garden of the Maison

Once out, and breathing into the chill air
trying to orientate meself...I was surprised to find us at the garden
"Wow....we are here already!!!"
Denis: "Oui Madame, now if you follow me, we'll do some tasting :))))"
a bottle of Rose, which they added exceptional red wine from the Grand Crus plots
consist of:
62% pinot noir
24% chardonnay
14% Meunier

Bollinger tends to age their champagnes longer than the other houses
they have one of the most outstanding collection of 300,000 magnums bottles
of wines which they saved from every harvest *mainly grand and premier crus*
these they aged for 5 to 15 years
we had tasting of these....
my favourite was the La Grande Anne for its body and length
fermented entirely in barrels from only pinot noir and chardonnay grapes
all of its productsion are 100% grand and premier crus
my mission now is to search for a bottle of Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francaises 2002
100% pinot noir of very very limited production
very very rare

only 3,000 to 5,000 bottles varying depending on vintages
*just to give u an idea and comparison vs MASS production of Moet & Chandon of 35 Million bottles a year*

from its ungrafted vineyards
this idea is to grow grapes that produce less juice so each grapes has got more INTENSITY and RICHNESS

it was such an educational private tour
and we learnt so much from Denis *Thank Gawd he speaks perfect UK English*

he was so sweet and drove us back to the City of Reims after that
which was 45 mins away :)))))))))))

I guess every French said the same thing....
Parisiens and Frenchs are 2 different people huh
so just bcoz u've only been to Paris doesn't mean the French behave that way too

Big Hugs to Alcoholic Anonymous ST for this arrangement

For more reading on Bollinger:


Chasing Food Dreams said...

Oo.. so nice to be able to visit Bollinger and I never knew you have to aged champagne like this!

I have tried Bollinger Special Cuvee and it was quite fabulous!

You know.. JS's pictures of scenery are so out-of-this world... does he just stand there for a while waiting for that special moment or was he always this lucky to be at the right place & the right moment to capture gorgeous sceneries of the sky? ;0)

js said...

Thanks food dreams for dropping by and the compliment too :)
Actually I think I am quite lucky to always encounter nice landscape and spectacular lighting conditions......and I think the more patient one gets the more lucky one gets :)

CHER-RY said...

JS is just too humble :P

I think with experience and "eye" for your surroundings, u'll be able to capture wonders effortless-ly
that's wat most renowned photog told me :)))))

js said...

Basically if you wanna compare the bubblys from the different champagne houses, go ahead and drink the "village" equivalent and for the case of Bollinger, it's the special cuvee which is a blend of many vintages and for me this one beat moet chandon's equivalent hands down!