by Paige Donner
Bollinger « La Grande Année » Rosé 2004 Aÿ, Champagne, France
Tasting Notes : Salmon blush color. Light citrus and seashells on the nose. Almonds and red currants followed by the spice and grilled notes of a stellar Burgundy Pinot Noir. This drinks like a wine and is an exceedingly appropriate choice for meal pairing. You will find the Kirsch/cherry notes graduating to a toasty and lively, long finish.
Price: 150 € ($199USD)
Production Notes : This is a blend of one of the very best red wines of the Champagne region (6% Cȏte aux Enfants) and the great champagne both of the same 2004 vintage. 8 – 9 gr. Dosage. Cellar aged for at lest 6 years.
Pair With : Venison in a Grand Veneur sauce; Duck, quail. Certain connoisseurs will want to accompany with oriental cuisine, lightly spicy. Select red berry desserts. Serve at 10˚C. Some even suggest serving from a carafe. Though I would suggest serving it immediately then.
House Notes the technically accomplished Bollinger Rosé set the tone: fresh and well-structured, it demonstrates mastery of the blending process. The tasters then had the privilege of tasting a 2009 Côte des Enfants, a rare red wine from the eponymous vineyard in Aÿ, used in blending La Grande Année Rosé. A small quantity is put aside and bottled so that connoisseurs can enjoy the quintessence of Aÿ’s Pinot Noir. [Mathieu Kauffmann is Bollinger’s Cellar Master]
The House of Bollinger Champagne began many decades before, but “Aunt Lily,” as she was known to her family members, still figures prominently in the House’s style and legacy ever since she was at the helm of the house in the 1950s until her passing in 1977. She is probably one of the most quoted dames of Champagne (see below).
Originally a Scotswoman, she married her husband Jacques, at one point the Mayor of Aÿ, in 1923 who himself had become the managing director of Bollinger Champagne at the tender age of 24. By the age of 42 she was a war widow and it was then that she stepped in, like other famous champagne widows before her, and took the reins of her house and steered it with an eye to perfection and unwavering dedication to excellence and innovation. This is the modern legacy “Madame Jacques,” became known for.
But going back to the previous century, 1829 to be exact, when the house was first formed is really to delve into the annals of international history. Original founder of Bollinger Champagne, Count Athanase de Villermont, was a nobleman and a war hero from the American Revolution. He became fascinated with the wines of Aÿ, Champagne when he inherited an extensive estate in this choice viticultural area of the Marne upon his return to France. The reason why the house did not take the name of “de Villermont” is because at that time, the French aristocracy were forbidden to engage in trade. So Count Athanase partnered with Joseph Bollinger, a German, and Paul Renaudin, a Champenois. And thus, on Feb. 6, 1829 a champagne house was born – one that has become synonymous with excellence, quality… and international intrigue (as in, Diamonds Are Forever).
Since 2008 Ghislain de Montgolfier, a great-great grandson of Joseph Bollinger, passed the reins, for the first time in the house’s history, to a non-family member, Jérôme Philipon. In 2007 Ghislain’s great sense of humor coupled with technical expertise got him elected as Head of the Board of the Union des Maisons de Champagne and co-Chairman of the Comité interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne (CIVC).
“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 I drink it when I am.
Otherwise I never touch it, unless I’m thirsty.“
17th October 1961, Daily Mail