Bollinger Special Cuvée – ‘Lily’ Would Be Quite Pleased

Lily in Her Vineyards in the 1940s, Protecting, Promoting, Perfecting.

     Lily in Her Vineyards in the 1940s, Protecting, Promoting, Perfecting.

There are Grandes Marques, “Mini-Marques”, and then there are the TRULY grande marques. Bollinger is so grande (so important) that the most famous quotes on Champagne are attributed to its most endearing owner. Lily Bollinger was not only the most important character in the story of Bollinger, she remains its most charismatic.

The technical side of Bollinger – the unmatched level of investment in every bottle produced – is every bit as important as Lily’s story. Stepping into the cellars of Bollinger will take your breath away. Imagine the greatest collection of Champagne you could ever hope to personally witness in one place. Imagine magnums of the most pristine, Grand Cru Champagne – bottled under cork – resting there before your eyes. How many bottles would it take for you to think, “Holy bubbles, Batman, that’s a LOT of Champagne”?

In the cellars of Bollinger rests 600,000 magnums (100,000 cases) of Champagne reserves. It is this massive – truly mind boggling – stash of reserves which contributes to the unmatched quality and consistency of the Bollinger Special Cuvée. The master blending performed which results in the richness, the depth and full body we love in Bollinger includes 50% of these reserve wines, some of which are up to 15 years of age. This Bollinger Special Cuvée you’re buying today contains a healthy percentage of reserve wine from the vintage of 2000.

Moreover, in keeping with the historical Bollinger tradition and winemaking style – the style Lily championed across Europe – the Special Cuvée is vinified in seasoned oak barrels of varying size, shape and age. This barrel vinification is followed by another 3 years of aging on the fine lees, a process absolutely unmatched across the region. It’s a time consuming, laborious, expensive process that’s driven by passion; as only Lily Bollinger would have had it.

Lily took over the estate upon her husband’s passing in 1941 and is celebrated for greatly expanding the estate’s vineyard holdings as well as the soaring popularity during her time as Director and beyond. Recalling her arrival to London to declare her 1955 vintage, a reporter made public Lily Bollinger’s reply when asked how much she enjoyed her own product. I think of it every day, or least every day I have a bottle of Bollinger:

“I drink my Champagne 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”. — Elizabeth ‘Lily’ Law de Lauriston Boubers Bollinger

One of the finest Bollinger Special Cuvée bottlings to date.

One of the finest Bollinger Special Cuvée bottlings to date.







I’ve got mine, and I know where the best price in the States may be had.


2004 Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blanc – A “Visceral Thrill”


One of the first lessons we connoisseurs of the really good stuff figure out is “the French keep the good stuff for themselves.”

So it is with Champagne Ruinart, named in honor of the Benedictine Monk, Dom Ruinart – the bulk of their production is still sold mostly in France. Precisely why I attempt to squirrel away a few precious bottles of the 2004 Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blanc whenever possible.

Established in 1729 with the inimitable declaration,

“In the name of God and the Saint Virgin shall this book be commenced”

Ruinart was the First Champagne House the world had ever known. The firm survived and even flourished through the upheavals of the Revolution, the Empire and the Restoration, celebrating successes in America, making an indelible impression on President Jackson in 1827.

This is a Blanc de Blanc truly without comparison in the ranks of the Grande Marques; produced entirely in steel, full malo, a significant holding on the Montagne de Reims. Time in bottle broadens this vinous treasure, today the 2004 is far superior when compared to my notes from last year.

Galloni – perhaps this nation’s greatest taster of Champagne – fawned over it,

“…viscerally thrilling…exceptionally beautiful…”ruinart-ii