Why not Champagne? It’s that time of year when Champagne corks are popping to celebrate the holidays while gathering with family and friends. Champagne literally marks an occasion with sparkle, aka streaming bubbles, to tickle and delight your palate. Whether you are sipping on a Grand Marque (like Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon, or Bollinger), a Grower Champagne (like Pierre Péters or Tarlant), or a Coopérateur (like R.H. Coutier) there is so much Champagne to discover. Where to start? Let me tease you with Bollinger Special Cuvée NV paired with Roasted Oysters with Bacon and Leeks.
“Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.”
This month the French Winophiles are celebrating Champagne! Check out more articles and Champagne discoveries at the bottom of this post.
Champagne Bollinger is a family owned estate founded in 1829.
Elisabeth “Lily” Bollinger is the soul of Champagne Bollinger, taking over the estate in 1941 when her husband died. She was known as a sharp strategist, bold, and perfectionist. She developed R.D. – Récemment Dégorgé (“Recently Disgorged”) in 1967, extending the aging of Champagne on its lees. In 1969, Madame Bollinger decided to make the first “vieilles vignes françaises” (“French old vines”) cuvée from two estate plots of vines that had been spared by phylloxera, as proof of the traditional specificities of Champagne.
The Bollinger style is rooted in 5 tangible principles:
- House Vineyards: Estate vineyards total 405 acres, 85% are classified as Grand Cru or Premier Cru and provide approximately 60% of their product.
- Pinot Noir: An unusually high proportion of Pinot Noir in the blends is a signature of the Bollinger style. The Pinot Noir planted around the Montagne de Reims represents 60% of Bollinger vineyards – the same proportion of Pinot Noir in the Special Cuvée NV.
- Magnums of Reserve Wines: Bollinger sets aside a portion of their best wines every year to add to their 800,000 reserve magnums used to craft the Special Cuvée NV and the Rosé blends.
- Barrels: Since 1829, Bollinger has vinified its best crus in oak. They have the largest barrel collection in Champagne totaling 4000 units. Bollinger uses only second-hand barrels from Burgundy.
- Time: The wines spend two to three times longer aging on their lees then mandated by the Champagne appellation. The longer aging time develops more complexity and delicate aromas in the wine, in addition to a velvety texture of fine bubbles. (Source: Champagne Bollinger)
My Tasting Notes
Bollinger Special Cuvée NV, Champagne France
12% abv | $80.00 wine.com | 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, 15% Meunier
Fermentation: 30% of the wine is vinified in neutral barrique, with some casks up to 40 years old.
Aging: 30-36 months on the lees. The final blend consisting of approximately 50% reserve wines and 5-10% of the total blend consisting of reserve wines 5-15 years in age kept in magnums under cork. Average age of the bottle upon release is 7-8 years.
Dosage: 8-9 g/L
(Source: Champagne Bollinger)
Medium golden in color. Aromas of roasted apples, peaches, lemon, and spices. On the palate, medium(+) body and medium(+) acidity. Flavors of apple, pear, lemon, brioche, and spices dance throughout my mouth. The mouthfeel is rich and complex with fresh acidity, very fine velvet like bubbles, and a lingering note of minerality.
Bollinger Special Cuvée Paired with Roasted Oysters with Bacon and Leeks
Oysters are a classic pairing with Champagne. The Bollinger Special Cuvée is a rich and complex Champagne with its 60% Pinot Noir composition, vinification in oak barrique, extended lees aging, and a higher level of reserve wines. Roasted oysters with bacon, leeks, heavy cream, parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs meet the weight and depth of the Special Cuvée. The Champagne’s acidity and bubbles are the perfect palate cleanser before indulging in another oyster.
Roasted Oysters with Bacon and Leeks
- 4 slices apple-wood smoked bacon, diced
- 1/2 cup leeks, (white and pale green parts only) thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fennel, thinly sliced and then diced (core removed)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 3 oz. heavy cream
- 1/8 cup parmesan, grated
- 1½ tablespoons fresh chives, thinly sliced
- lemon zest from half a lemon
- fleur de sel and freshly ground white pepper
- 12 oysters, shucked in their shell with their liquid
- 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs or panko
- kosher salt for cast-iron pan
- Preheat the oven to 425° F
- In a large sauté pan, cook the diced bacon until crispy. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Drain the bacon fat reserving 1½ tablespoons in the pan.
- To the pan, add the leeks and diced fennel and sauté over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the white wine and stir, let it reduce by two-thirds. Add the heavy cream and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 minute. Add the parmesan, chives, lemon zest and bacon to the pan. Season with the salt and pepper, stir to combine. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Line a cast-iron pan with about 1/4-inch of kosher salt. Arrange the shucked oysters in the pan. Spoon about a teaspoon of the bacon and leek mixture onto each oyster and top with breadcrumbs.
- Bake until the breadcrumbs are golden about 6-8 minutes. Serve with a glass of Bollinger Champagne.
More to discover from the French Winophiles on Champagne
• Cindy at Grape Experiences shares “Celebrate with 4 Easy-to-Make Champagne Cocktails”
• Camilla at Culinary Cam shares “A Royally Good Match: The King of Mushrooms + The Wine of Kings”
• Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles shares “Champagne Cattier–Sustainable Champagne creating a home for the hedgehogs”
• Jane at Always Ravenous shares “Champagne Paired with Roasted Oysters with Bacon and Leeks”
• Gwendolyn at Wine Predator….Gwendolyn Alley shares “Special Wines for Special Occasions: Champagne! It’s Not Just for Toasts!”
• Martin at Enofylz shares “How I Learned To Expand Champagne’s Role At The Table”
• Lynn at Savor the Harvest shares “Generations of Women in Epernay – Champagne Elodie D.”
• Jeff at Food Wine Click! shares “Hidden Champagne: The Côte des Bar