Beat Bollinger Special Cuvee in Roughly the Same Style and Price

Last night we opened a magnum of the Bollinger Special Cuvee that had a few years of age on it. It was good, exactly what it should have been. I’ve had a bunch of this wine over the years and this was spot on. When we were talking about it later, we called it Bollinger “lite” - with some of the house’s signature characteristics with a nice element of slight oxidation that I like a lot. But…it’s just not a that good a wine, even for the price we paid (EUR 74 plus shipping/import).

We started talking about all the great champagnes we have that cost the same or even less and realized that most of them don’t deliver that nutty oxidative style, though. Where would you go to beat this wine in the same general style - no bright crisp citrusy Blanc de Blancs (love those, too) - at about the same price point and available in magnum? Rodez Cuvee de Crayeres springs to mind as a possibility, though I haven’t had it. What else?

I can’t quit Bollinger Special Cuvee but it does sometimes not quite hit the mark. I wish more house made wines in this style.

One I’ve had somewhat recently that has some crossover is Dhondt-Grellet. Again, limited experience but all good experiences. Be forewarned. They seem to bottle everything in massive, heavy bottles. Not certain about availability. Ya’ll out there often have a very different access to Euro wines than we do out here in CA.

Rodez is an interesting idea, though it’s not likely to be available at that price level.

I don’t really know of another wine that quite scratches the same itch as BSC.

From the big houses Charles Heidsieck’s Reserve has been a great alternative, often to be had at slightly less. I don’t know if the style is going to change if Heidsieck is now cutting down the time the wine ages on the lees plus reducing the reserve wines portion, instead introducing oak barrels to age the base wine.

Marguet and Boulard used to really give bang for the buck if one loves that vinous, nutty, slightly oxidative Pinot-heavy style. However, they’ve been getting quite pricey as well.

And I really don’t know how’s the availability in magnums over there.

Agreed, Boulard is a great suggestion - we have a lot of the Murgier and Grand Montagne (called something else now) in 750. But I have, sadly, never seen magnums.

It can’t be done. Seriously. Sure, some disgorgements are better than others. When I find a particularly good one, I tend to try to buy multiples so I have them.

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I had a couple Bollinger SC this year for the first time in awhile and my reaction both times was, “wow, quality of this really fell off a cliff.” Not really sure I can think of a great substitute for the profile I remember though. Coutier Brut pulls off some of it. But the Bolly signature in addition to the referenced nuts was always a yeasty, doughy thing that I think has fallen out of fashion and most producers try to avoid.

I like the Vilmart NV Champagne ‘Grande Reserve’, Vilmart & Cie available in 1.5L Magnum for ~ $100 US, ocassionally under $40-45 in 750ml. As it is pinot dominant, sees some oak, it may give you the toast, nutiness without that BdB character.

Spec-wise the current stuff: 70 % Pinot Noir and 30 % Chardonnay classified Premier Cru. Manual harvest, 2016 base, Reserve wines 2014/2015, Aging process: ten months into large oak casks, No malo,Dosage: 9 g/l

The Pol Roger Reserve is OK, it’s a blend in equal parts of pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay from 30 different crus. 25% reserve wines. Not a SWC, but quite affordable and available in mag.

Both are fine for some aging, which I think improves them, but also OK for the short term

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I also agree on the Boulard Murgers. Focusing on the richness, nuttiness and slight oxidative notes, I could go totally left field a recommend a Franciacorta: Barone Pizzini Bagnadore Pas Dose with added years in the cellar (to get the slight oxidative notes). But it’s more incisive in nature. I’ve also got a similar taste profile on a Sanger Grand Cru Pères d’Origines (although I don’t know why I would list a Champagne I didn’t really like…!).

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How long since you had last tasted it?

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This is a fun exercise! I agree on the Bollinger SC - it’s great but also somewhat too rich and creamy, which impresses on the first glass, and tends to tire me as I keep drinking it. I think wine is slightly overdosed for my taste. Now, in terms of alternatives, I have three that pop to mind:

  1. Bereche & Fils Brut Reserve
    Mag from EUR 88,00. While slightly more expensive a clear step-up in quality. You get that nutty oxidative style without going overboard and retaining beautiful freshness and definition. Reserve comes from a solera dating back to 1985. No malolactic. Rich and fresh at the same time. Wonderful.

  2. Laherte Freres Ultradition
    Mag from EUR 66,00. Different direction as this is extra brut and definitely less broad on the palate, but the inclusion of around 50% reserve wines really gives it a yeasty sourdough profile, and the base of 60% Pinot Meunier lends it a unique character (think stone fruits and red apples). Hard to beat for the price.

3 Andre Clouet Grand Reserve
Mag from EUR 58,00. Not sure about the amount of reserve wines in this, but being 100% Pinot Noir from Bouzy you get a really rich, broad-shoulder Champagne, with nuts, red fruits, and baked apples. I prefer the two I mention before this but if you are after this style a grower blanc de noirs is something to consider.

Let us know how you go with your research!

IMPOSSIBLE to beat an aged bottle of Bollinger Cuvee in a similar price range.

Hmm. I really don’t find it that impressive. Good,I like the style, but dozens of bottles over many years, in multiple formats, still make me wonder what all the fuss is about.

I’d like to point out that your “overdosed” Bolly now clocks at 7 g/l in RS, while André Clouet is at 8 g/l.

André Clouet is definitely a great purchase at a very reasonable price and perhaps offers the best bang for the buck when looking for an inexpensive shampoo from the vinous, toasty end, but I wouldn’t say it really competes at the same level as Bolly’s SC.

However, Bereche and Laherte’s Ultradition are great wines. Perhaps not made in a style similar to BSC, but great bubblies all the same!

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Dunno. Decade at least.

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I was wondering if that was the case. I have great respect for your palate, but I wonder if the memories might be a bit rosy.

Alexandre Filaine Cuvee Speciale. The winemaker, Fabrice Glass, used to work for Bollinger.

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Had the Clouet tonight and I see no real resemblance to Bolly. I thought it was a little simple and a little sweet.

I think Pol Roger Brut might suit.

Gosset Grande Reserve Brut ? I haven’t had it but some reviews, at least indirectly, seem put it in a similar ballpark. I have had the Bollinger Special Cuvée and loved it.

Love Bollinger SC and also Camille Saves Carte d’Or. Both have more pinot noir and are reasonably priced for what they are.