Often regarded as the Champagne for the British palate, Bollinger’s popularity was only increased by James Bond’s penchant for it. Although over the $50 price point, it’s a surprisingly affordable cuvée.
In this review, you will learn about Bollinger Special Cuvée as we touch on the following points:
- Bespoke Unit Champagne Sheet [BUCS]
- Cuvée Overview
- Champagne Robe
- Nose & Aromas
- Palate & Mouthfeel
- Ideal Pairings
- Overall Experience & Value For Money
Simply use the links above to jump ahead or scroll down to read it all.
Overview Of Laurent-Perrier La Cuvée
- House: Bollinger
- Cuvée: Special Cuvée
- Location: Äy, Montagne de Reims
- Class: Cru
- Vintage: No
- Blend Style: Tradition
- Grapes: 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Pinot Meunier, 15% Chardonnay
- Sugar: Brut
- Producer Identifier: NM-121-001
- Price: $65 [Buy Now]
Bollinger was founded by Hennequin de Villermont, Paul Renaudin, and Jacques Bollinger in 1829. Although it earned a Royal Warrant in 1884, it became famous thanks to Emily Law de Lauriston Boubers who married Jacques Bollinger, the original Jacque’s grandson, and became known as Lily Bollinger.
When Jacques died, Lily took over and expanded the brand but also travelled around the world to promote it.
Today, Bollinger is one of the few remaining independent Champagne houses. It owns 160 hectares of vines, which caters to 60% of its production with some from grand and premier cru plots.
The still wine is fermented in a combination of oak barrels and stainless steel tanks and then bottle-aged for at least 30 months, which is double the legal minimum. After the dosage and corking, the wines are aged for an additional minimum of three months.
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Bollinger Special Cuvée’s Robe
- Hue: Mid-Gold
- Transparency: Clear
- Bubbles: Lively
Special Cuvée begins with a rich frothy mousse, which lazily settles into a lively perlage to highlight its rich mid-gold hue.
Special Cuvée’s Nose & Bouquet
Detected Nose Notes:
- 1st Nose: Green Apple, Butter
- 2nd Nose: Baked Apple, Vanilla
There’s a good diversity of notes and it’s quite vivid as well in flavour. You’re looking at on the first nose, green apples and butter, and on the second nurse, if you persist and you keep smelling, is going to start to feel more like baked apples. So a buttery apple with a hint of vanilla as well.
There are going to be some notes that you will taste later on, although it seems to be quite coy at this stage.
Special Cuvée’s Palate & Mouthfeel
Tasted Palate Notes:
- Opening: Grapefruit, Conference Pear, Granny Smith
- Heart: Baked Apple, Butter, Hazelnut
- Finish: Brioche, Chalk, Vanilla
- Overall Flavour Length: Long
First of all, you may notice that even a single sip makes you salivate and struggle to speak. That’s because of its very high acidity. Indeed, Bollinger Cuvée Special is meant to be one of the most dry and acidic of the major French champagne house flagship cuvées.
Therefore, if you prefer them sweet, this is definitely not for you. It’s also very yeasty and it delivers a rich intensity and flavour just like on the nose.
The texture is not light. It’s going to be quite balanced, but you’re not yet on the velvety side of very mature champagne. This has been aged indeed for about 30 months, so less than three years in ageing overall.
Nevertheless, there is some complexity which does show some maturity. In the opening, you’re going to experience largely these green fruit notes, an accord of Conference pear and Granny Smith apple, but there’s also just a hint of bittersweet citrus, which adds a little bit more acidity at the back of the tongue.
Then moving into the heart, the apple and pear accord basically turned into a sort of baked apple as we noticed in the second nose earlier. There’s also a hint of butter, which is probably derived from the baked apple itself. This is quite oily on the tongue.
You do notice a change in the texture, as well as a hint of hazelnut. You could basically compare the heart to a tart apple crumble.
Moving on to the finish of the champagne, it’s going to be quite yeasty. You still get a couple of elements of that fruit, but you also get the yeasty brioche, a little bit of minerality from some chalk, as well as just an essence of vanilla that basically adds some substance to the brioche note.
Best Pairings With Bollinger Special Cuvée
Needless to say, you could pair Bollinger Special Cuvée with caviar and foie gras. However, it wouldn’t be my first choice. Instead, I would opt for something less tart. Meanwhile, oysters are certainly a possibility.
Personally, I enjoyed the bottle that was reviewed with homemade pizzas. Red wine tends to clash with tomatoes but since Champagne is derived from red grapes without the tannins, it’s a good compromise. However, you could also consider fish, pasta, pastries, shellfish, and white meat.
Most cheese is fine aside from blue cheese. Instead, consider Beaufort, brie, camembert, and goat cheese. As for dessert, it won’t pair well. Nevertheless, it can be used as a starter with fries, potato chips, nuts, breadsticks, and olives.
Finally, if you’re a cigar smoker consider a light or mild tobacco blend. I personally would consider something like a Plasencia Reserva Original. Alternatively, a Davidoff No. 2 would be a classic choice.
Overall Experience & Value For Money
The box is beautiful with its cream and red and gold colours. It’s bold, just like the champagne, but it’s still retained some elegance, again, just like the champagne! The plaque is equally regal. I wouldn’t say it’s ornate. We’re looking at more kind of an Imperial presentation with a bold shield in black with 1829, the house name and Äy, which is where it’s made.
As for the cork, the cork hasn’t retained its original shape. It hasn’t puffed out as you would want from a high-quality cork. That being said, it has been sitting probably in this bottle for quite a while. Then again, they’re also rested for three months after they’ve been corked.
It should expand eventually to a relatively cylindrical shape, but that hasn’t happened just yet. Otherwise, it’s a good quality cork, nice and firm, and it does bounce back, but here does feel a little bit stiff.
As for the occasion, Bollinger is very versatile champagne that you can drink for a variety of occasions. It’s going to be more champagne that you would accompany with a meal or as a starter. This isn’t something that I would consider really as just an apéritif.
It can be also enjoyed on special occasions. Indeed, this is probably one of the best of the major house standard non-vintage Cuvées that you can enjoy for a lavish moment, but you can also drink it casually with some friends.
As for the value, I would have wanted to have included this champagne in our guide to the best champagnes under $50, which only takes into account champagnes that are easy to find in most convenience stores or online and in the end ends up being mostly from the larger houses.
Unfortunately for Bollinger, you’re looking about $59 to $65 if you buy it online. I personally paid 39€, which comes to $47 at the current exchange rate but it’s very rare that you’ll find it at this price stateside.
Although slightly pricier than most of the main houses’ flagship cuvées, Bollinger does offer a refined experience that is indeed a cut above. If you want to experience wonderfully dry and acidic champagne that delivers both complexity and maturity, Bollinger Special Cuvée is an excellent choice.
"Tart, acidic and refined, Bollinger Special Cuvée is somewhat more complex than its similarly-priced peers."
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