Special Cuvée, Bollinger
19 years ago, Peter Florence of the Hay Festival, James Naughtie of the BBC Today programme and I joined with Bollinger to invent the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for the funniest novel of the year. Winners have included Howard Jacobson (the Mighty Waltzer), Michael Frayn (Spies), Marina Lewycka (A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian), Paul Torday (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) and Ian McEwan (Solar). It has been a joy for me to get to know Bollinger so well and to dine and drink Bollinger with the judges in Madame Bollinger’s house in Ay.
They remain family owned, with more than 2 kilometres of remarkable cellars holding many millions of bottles and sensibly given the Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria in 1884 which they have kept ever since. The Special Cuvée is kept in the cellars for more than twice the time required by the appellation before its release. This is Grande Marque champagne at its very best. For 40 years James Bond has thought so too.
Tasting note: This wine is full-bodied with the classic Bollinger breadth and depth of flavour. The small bubbles give a fine and persistent quality to the mousse. The wine is made from first-run juice only, and the majority of grapes are from Premier and Grand Cru vineyards.