When I came into the office for the first time last week there was a message on my ansafone from a ChampagneGuru visitor, asking if I could help evaluate or provide any information about a very old bottle of vintage Bollinger from the war years. Intriguing I thought, knowing there were several fine vintages between 1939 and 1945, some picked while the front line was very close to Reims.
Bollinger actually made three: 1941, Madame Lily Bollinger’s first vintage that produced wines that were ‘powerful and balanced’; 1943 – ‘a difficult year for an exceptional result’ with very concentrated wines; and finally 1945: ‘Solid wines that later proved to be a great vintage, powerful and able to be kept for a long time’.
Sadly I haven’t tasted any of these three and I don’t even know if they have bottles left in the cellars in Aÿ, though I suspect they do. I have tasted other wines from the 40s including Veuve Clicquot’s, but the oldest Bollinger I have a record of trying is 1979 RD a few years back. When I called back I discovered the wine in question was in fact the ’43 and we are now trying to find out its rarity, condition and thus its ‘value’. A quick look on Wine Searcher gives an average price for this wine of £798 ex tax per bottle and reveals four places, all in Germany, still offering the wine, although three of them only have half bottles.
In fact all four of them only have half bottles as I discovered when I emailed them (they do have 1941 and 1949 Bollinger in 75cl bottles though). So it is over to Bollinger to see if they still have any bottles of 1943 left.