In the same way that Special Cuvée stands apart from non-vintage Champagnes, Bollinger Rosé is an exception for Rosé Champagnes. What is more, it is a relative secret, as Bollinger did not release a non-vintage Rosé until 2008 and the quantity produced is quite limited. The wine begins as Special Cuvée and then Bollinger’s specialty as the Pinot Noir producer in Champagne takes center stage, as the red fruits that join the conversation dance vibrantly, the finish has just a hint of perfectly ripe tannin, and the deep complexity of the wine shines through transparently.
Bollinger is the producer most associated with a single grape variety in Champagne, namely Pinot Noir. This more difficult grape to grow makes up a minimum of 60% of all of Bollinger’s Champagne. The harmony of Pinot Noir’s richness and elegance plays a large part in the Rosé’s distinct profile, the ripe red berries and powerful impact a clear signature. Then there is the other association that Bollinger is so well known for: winemaking in barrel. As virtually every Champagne producer in the latter half of the 20th century moved to fermenting in large lots in stainless steel tanks, Bollinger persisted to oversee fermentation barrel by barrel for all vintage Champagnes and a remarkable 30% of the Rosé. Why? Because the development of flavors becomes so much more complex, and the texture rounder and silkier. A third Bollinger specialty is the aging of Champagnes. Most Champagnes on the market are primarily made up of the most recently harvested vintage before requirements to age in bottle. Bollinger is primarily made up of Champagnes that are not from the most recent vintage, and in the end a newly released bottle of Bollinger is around 7-8 years old. A fourth – and utterly distinct – practice at Bollinger is the use of Reserve Magnums. The best vineyards will be aged under cork in magnum for up to 15 years, and hand disgorged into the final blend to bring the aromas and flavors only a great aged Champagne can display, notes such as truffles, ginger and walnut.
So you have it all: the freshness that Champagne brings naturally, the secondary notes as the fruit character becomes riper and savory and spicy notes enter, and the third level, when fruit becomes almost crystallized, texture becomes like velvet, and the glass in front of you brings meaning to you and with those you have chosen to share. Then, because of the quality, density and power of Bollinger’s still red Pinot, only 5-6% of red wine is added to make the Rosé, less than half (or even a third) what you find in typical Rosé Champagnes. We like to say: “Fresh as a Rosé, balanced as a Bollinger.”
In total the wine is based on Pinot Noir (62%), and contains 24% Chardonnay and 14% Meunier. Over 85% of the grapes are sourced from a combination Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages. Bollinger’s vineyards are the source for over 60% of their production, as was laid down as a minimum in a quality charter written several decades ago. Bollinger has also been the first Champagne House to achieve the certification of “Sustainable Viticulture in Champagne,” a new set of standards established by the Champagne governing body to encourage stronger viticulture practices (more here). Bollinger in 2012 in addition was accredited with “High Environmental Value” certification in 2012 (more here).
The wine starts with a base of Special Cuvée: complex and full bodied, perfectly balanced with fresh acidity and a texture that only time can lend, creating a harmony of richness and elegance. 30% of the base wine is vinified in used oak barrels of 228 liters, with some 400 liter casks up to 40 years old. The wine will have matured for 30-36 months on the lees, with a final blend of 50% reserve wines, and 5-10% of the blend consisting of reserve wines 5-15 years of age kept in magnum under cork. This totally unique, laborious process (each magnum is disgorged by hand to be blended) results in wines with a vast spectrum of aromas and flavors, and an unmatched texture. Then, because of the quality and power of Bollinger’s still red Pinot, only 5-6% of red wine is added, less than half (or even a third) what you find in typical Rosé Champagnes. The red wine is made in a Burgundian fashion, with minimal handling with a pure structure and fruit the objective. It sees 8 months in barrel. The dosage is 7-8 grams per liter.
Bronze tones combined with the intense depth of a great red wine. On the nose, red berries: hints of red currant, cherry and wild strawberry. A spicy touch. On the palate, flavors of wild berries and a subtle combination of structure, length and vivacity, with a tannic sensation from the red wine addition. Bubbles as fine as velvet.
As we like to say, Bollinger is the ultimate food pairing Champagne due to the combination of richness, texture and complexity. Enjoy with any number of shellfish and seafood dishes, such as crayfish, lobster or rare salmon. And, more unexpected, the Rosé stands up brilliantly to roasted poultry, game, and white meats. Also a fantastic match for Japanese cuisine or not-so-spicy Asian cuisine. For dessert, it is best enjoyed with fruit based desserts, including fruit soup, strawberry tarts and fresh raspberries.
Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir
Champagne Bollinger supports sustainable wine growing by grassing over the ground, using biological pest control, reducing the use of herbicides, recycling pruning waste, and planting hedges and orchards to encourage biodiversity. The Côte aux Enfants vineyard is managed organically.
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Wine Advocate - "Bollinger's NV Brut Rosé is a beautiful pink Champagne composed of 62% Pinot Noir, 24% Chardonnay and 14% Pinot Meunier. The wine gets its noble rosé color from 6% of added red wine from vineyards in Verzenay and Aÿ. Bread rolls, a hint of mocha and very fine red fruit aromas on the beautifully pure, fresh and perfumed nose lead to a highly delicate and fruity palate with a silky texture and filigreed structure. This is an aromatic, perfectly balanced and intense Rosé of great elegance and finesse. The finish is clear and fresh but also intense and highly stimulating in its subversive salinity. This is a great Rosé, and although it can surely age, I would always miss the delicacy and perfume of its youth!"
James Suckling - "This marries a dash (5%) of still red wine from the Bollinger vineyards with the house's stalwart, complex non-vintage cuvée to fine effect. It has playful red florals and citrus fruits on the nose with freshly grilled hazelnuts, wild berries and spiced-berry biscuits. Actually, it smells superb! The palate offers plenty of concentrated red-apple and bright light-cherry fruit flavors amid a balanced and lively frame. A Champagne that finishes smooth and fresh. Brilliant take on a fresher style. Drink now."
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