The History of Bollinger Champagne

With Ab Fab the Movie set to be released in 2016, the Ideal Wine Company thought we’d reveal the history behind Bollinger Champagne – Patsy and Edina’s favourite tipple!

Unique brand

Bollinger is a type of sparkling wine composed primarily of Pinot Noir grapes. In some ways Bollinger is like every other Champagne. Its makers have to conform to a certain set of production rules if they wish to use the ‘Champagne’ label, for example the brand must use grapes grown in the drink’s eponymous region, which is located in France.

However what we find really interesting about Bollinger is the fact that it’s one of the last remaining independent Champagne houses. It’s still run by the Bollinger family, who as we’re about to tell you, turned Bollinger Champagne into a unique brand that has become a pop culture phenomenon.

Origin story

Bollinger Champagne was originally founded by adventurous aristocrat Athanase de Villermont. He inherited an extensive estate in the Aÿ area of Champagne, and decided to use the land to cultivate Champagne grapes. Unfortunately de Villermont wasn’t allowed to enter the trade due to his status as an aristocrat. He showed the dynamic insight that would later come to characterise the Bollinger brand by finding a way to circumvent the problem.

He enlisted the services of Joseph Bollinger – a widely travelled German who wanted to learn about the Champagne industry, and Paul Renaudin, a local man who was fascinated by the world of wine. The three men officially founded Renaudin-Bollinger & Cie. on 6th February 1829. Joseph later married de Villermont’s daughter Louise-Charlotte in 1837 and their sons, Joseph and Georges, went on to manage what eventually became Bollinger Champagne.

Lilly Bollinger

They steered Bollinger through the phylloxera crisis that plagued vineyards across Europe in the late 19th Century, and the House was eventually inherited by the latter’s son, Jacques, in 1918. He died in 1941, and ownership of Bollinger fell to Jacques’ wife Emily Law de Lauriston Bourbers, also known as ‘Lilly Bollinger.’

She brought Bollinger into the modern age. Lilly expanded production by purchasing more vineyards, and promoted the Bollinger brand across the world. She’s famous for saying, “I drink it 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.”

Cultural phenomenon

Lilly’s love for Bollinger and her efforts to promote the brand turned it into a global enterprise. The innovator’s successors built on her work by using the popular James Bond film franchise as a marketing device. Bollinger became even more popular when it was deemed the favourite drink of Ab Fab character’s Patsy and Edina – who devoted entire fridges to the product – back in the 1990s.

If you want to see why throughout its fascinating history, this luxurious tipple has become popular around the world, you should buy Bollinger Champagne from the Ideal Wine Company!


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