Champagne similar in style to Bollinger?


I’m just now starting to become more and more interested in champagne. My wife and I back in Feb attended an awesome champagne tasting which included many very expensive wines (krug, Dom-p, Cristal, etc.) that I tasted for the first time. We were excited to see that our favorite champagne of the night was very reasonable in price, the Bollinger “Special Cuvee.” I can recall really liking the philipponnat but can’t recall the flavors, I think I was drunk by the end of the night. Anyways we were able to find a Bollinger in Nice France a few weeks ago on our honeymoon and again fell in love with it, really like that “toasty” style. I don’t know if you would call it a more oxidative style (nutty, toasty) or whether its due to heavy lees aging and maybe some barrel fermentation? I don’t know… All I know is that it is what I really enjoy in champagne.

So does anybody have any recommendations in that similar price point or below? My wife and I did crack a bottle of 2006 J. Schram (schramsberg North Coast) the other night, celebrating moving into our new place. This was def very similar in style to that Bollinger… toasty… almost liqueor like… hard to describe… but unfortunately was a $100+ wine… I know I can just continue to buy Bollinger, but new discoveries are always more fun champagne.gif


In my opinion, Bollinger Special Cuvee is one of the only great values from the big houses in that price range (really THE only one for my taste), and I haven’t found anything comparable without spending more.

I went off Bollinger around 4 years ago, I found the NV and the Grand Annee quite heavy going. The 02 much more so than say the 97. Maybe they have dialed that back (I’ve hardly tried it since). I’d struggle to think of many similar wines but look for Pinot heavy growers from Ay and similar villages. Gosset might be worth a peek.

De Meric is a grower in Ay with a profile not unlike Bollinger. They do export to the States. I know K&L has it.

Gatinois, the NV is nice and <$40.

Pierre Paillard - I haven’t tried the regular Grand Cru, but if the rose is an indication the style probably matches a bit. 60% pinot.

Ayala would be a good alternative. Owned by Bollinger and is from Ay but is less $$$

This is a completely different style from that of Bollinger, almost the opposite. Bollinger is made with a high proportion of reserve wines going back 15 years, and at least some of the base wine is aged in wood. It is rich, powerful, and features maturing and oxidative characteristics, all in a wine that is dominated by Pinot Noir character. Ayala sees no oak (at least not for their regular NV), is made with 80% of the current base vintage, and is a much lighter, fresher style (their website appropriately mentions elegance, freshness, and delicacy when talking about the definition of their style), with strong Chardonnay character. I find almost no similarity beyond what is automatically there since they are both Champagne.

the NV Charles Heidsieck brut.

Thanks, Doug, for that very detailed post. Sounds like a poor match for the OP, but may be just the style I prefer.

will check out the few mentioned… funny I thought I wasn’t a Brut Rose guy… most I’ve had have been more red fruit spectrum (strawberries), too fruity and too “clean” for me… but just read the description for the Bollinger brut rose… looks like it is very similar in style to the special cuvee… another powerhouse… might have to give that one a go… and thanks for the recommendations everybody… hopefully there are more :slight_smile:

What Doug said. Ayala is much more crisp and fresh. The Brut Nature, for instance, is as far as you can get from the Bolly style and remain in Champagne. [cheers.gif]

If you are new to champagne find a wine store and taste. Many styles are available and who knows what will click. Buy a few and have with food. If all you ask for is Silver Oak you will never know the range that exists. Mike

I wouldn’t say Ayala is totally opposite to Bolly, that to me would be a crisp lively BdB, but they are distant second cousins.

Second the Charles Heidsieck Reserve :slight_smile: Great bubbles and fair price

Stylewise, I kind of agree with everyone who has mentioned the Charles Heidsieck Reserve, but with one proviso: if we’re talking about Bollinger’s Special Cuvee, I think the Charles Heidsieck is, and has been for at least six or seven years, the better wine - hands down.

Interesting. I have tried the Heidsieck several times over the last 2 years, and not been impressed at all.

I agree Tvrtko - although I also like the Bollinger Special Cuvee - I just like Charly more:-)

You have to try again David:-) - The Danish importer is always really keen on getting the “newest” disgorged bottles of the Reserve and considering how mature they actually show right away I am thinking that maybe it is not at champagne to cellar so if your bottles were “older” then maybe they have not been as “hot” as the ones I have had? Just a thought and I might be wrong

Brandon, for many years now I have been cellaring Special Cuvee for 5 to 10 years. If you like that toasty Bollinger style you might like it even better after a few years in the cellar. I call it “poor man’s Grande Annee”

I like the Bollinger style but not the price, so have long looked for alternatives. The closest I have found are Raymond Boulard and Bernard Brèmont. I’m sure there are others.