Bollinger Champagne comes with an aura of elegance and sophistication. It’s a bottle for grand events and marquee celebrations. Something to share, something to savour and certainly something to enjoy. So when we heard that today was the 52nd Anniversary of Madame Lily Bollinger’s famous Daily Mail quote, we just couldn’t resist writing a small piece to celebrate the life and contribution she made to the House, and to the industry as a whole.
“I drink it when I am 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”.
There is something wonderfully poetic about this quote, and I’m sure many of us wish we had the funds to be able to drink a fine bottle of Bollinger on any one of the occasions mentioned by Madame Bollinger.
The quote above was taken from Lily Bollinger’s visit to Britain in 1961. She was also awarded the Royal Warrant by not one, but two monarchs; George VI and Elizabeth II. It was her infectious personality that endeared her to so many and the image of her cycling through her vineyards is as iconic as any wine or Champagne image we have seen yet. She would peddle through her vineyard using a bespoke Hermes saddle, greeting all employees and wishing everyone a good morning, by name. She was known as Madame Jacques.
Madame Lily took management control over the Champagne House in troubled times, with difficult circumstances. It was following the death of her husband, Jacques, in 1941 with Europe entangled in a ferocious war, with France being the centrepiece of a horrid picture that was the landscape of mainland Europe. The Champagne region was under Nazi occupation for 4 years. Madame Bollinger worked tirelessly to ease the daily suffering and misery that descended on the region as a result of the occupation. She gave victims of the bombing raids security and shelter, earning her much admiration by employees, locals and foreign onlookers.
Once the war was over and the celebrations wilted, no doubt on the back of several bottles of Bollinger’s finest, the work really began. Lily began the hard task of promoting her House brand to the most important markets. Her personality and her ability to deliver speeches with charm, zeal and enthusiasm ensured that her wonderful Champagnes would continue to be consumed with enthusiasm. Under her leadership, Bollinger’s vineyards expanded, acquiring vines in Aÿ, Mutigny, Grauves and Bisseuil.
A lot of Bollinger’s current prestigious status owes to the tireless effort that Madame Lily put in to her work, developing “R.D” one of the most iconic wines. with English journalist, Cyril Ray.
So, on this day, the anniversary of one of her most iconic quotes, we say raise a glass to Madame Bollinger, Madame Jacques or just Aunt Lily! Cheers!