Few, if any, champagnes are as mythical and legendary as Bollinger ‘Vieilles Vignes Françaises’. Unfortunately, we are only a few who have ever had an opportunity to get acquainted with this unique beauty. Since from the first vintage 1969 only between 2,000-3,000 bottles were made and since the wine lice attacked the vineyard in Bouzy in 2005, now only about 1,500 bottles are made a year, very few have tasted enough vintages in different phases to have a really good picture of what this heroic wine stands for. Even less do we know how it develops over time. I also groped a bit in the dark before my trip to Copenhagen as I usually have tasted each vintage on a few occasions a very long time ago.
WHAT IS SO SPECIAL about ‘Vieilles Vignes Françaises’ that we champagne connoisseurs usually call this holy grail? Simply put, ‘Vieilles Vignes Françaises’ is the only quality wine in the world that is made exclusively on pre-phylloxera vines. That is, on a genetic material that is identical to how European wines tasted and were made before the catastrophic ravages of wine lice Europe in the mid and late 19th century. Wines from the deep sandy soils of Portuguese Colares are admittedly still in most cases pre-phylloxera vines, as the wine lice simply do not thrive in pure sand. On the other hand, those wines are far too simple and oxidative to arouse any greater interest today.