A Sparkling Pair

Daydreaming while contemplating a decent glass of wine may lead you to consider two people you would love to put in a room together.

We have a couple in mind.

One is an alluring woman, who has, malheuresement, been dead for many years and the other is not a real person, although we have met him twenty three times. This may seem to be an insurmountable problem. But a fine glass of fizz can transcend such inconveniences. The woman is Bollinger. Lily Bollinger. The man is of course James Bond. Ladies first.

The story of Bollinger begins in 1829 in the Champagne town of Ay. Jacques Bollinger and two partners set up the Maison Renaudin Bollinger. The first inkling of a strong connection with English speakers was the granting of a Royal Warrant in 1884 by Queen Victoria. Bollinger had the nod from the best house in London. The desire for Bollinger at the highest levels is quite understandable. There are dozens of small habits of production which set this marque apart. They are among the last of the champagne houses to make their own barrels. Their wines are aged longer than most before release. They are one of the few champagne houses to have part of the first fermentation in oak. And one of the only houses to age some of its wine under cork not crown seal … you can see the lip at the top of a Bollinger bottle is squarer in profile. Small details add up to power, complexity and fabulous flavours. Anyone writing about Bollinger would have their accreditation immediately cancelled if they failed to mention Madame Lily’s famous comment delivered in London in 1961: ” 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 I drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it, unless I’m thirsty. Today Bollinger is still perhaps the most ‘British’ of champagnes, with many devotees from Victoria’s son the Prince of Wales (later to become King Edward VII) to the gorgeous Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous and the hero of this very piece …  007 himself. The story of James Bond begins in the mind of Ian Lancaster Fleming, himself a veteran of the worlds of espionage. His first book published in 1952 was ‘Casino Royal’. The first mention of Bollinger was in the book ‘Diamonds are Forever’ in 1956. The first film was ‘Dr No ‘ released in 1962. Since then we have been on a magnificent rollercoaster ride with Bond, his girls, his cars, his villains and his drinks. Along the way two real life characters became friends. Producer Cubby Broccoli (father of the producer of today’s movies, Barbara) and Christian Bizot then President of Maison Bollinger. The secret agent and the wine have been close ever since, sharing a moment or two in 12 of the films. At the end of an exhausting round of world premieres for the latest movie ‘Skyfall’, Daniel Craig, finally finding himself in Sydney, told his audience that he ‘might have a few drinks tonight.’ Was he perhaps talking about the bitter lager favoured by Sydney connoisseurs, Reschs?

No it would have to be the Bollinger, neither shaken nor stirred, but coruscating crisply in a flute.

You can learn more about this timeless wine at www.champagne-bollinger.com

You can catch James at the movies.

To celebrate 50 years of Bond movies, you can buy a special gift box modelled on a Walther PPK silencer containing a bottle of La Grand Annee 2002, one of the finest vintages of the last decade.

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e.h reliance

e.h reliance is a raconteur, empresario and, on a good day, a modern renaissance man (or woman). The editors at This Magnificent Life have not personally met e.h. All articles are mysteriously delivered by carrier pigeon.

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