Madame Lily Bollinger – one of the great ladies of Champagne
On 10 November 1923, Jacques Bollinger, the grandson of Joseph Jacob – better known as Jacques Bollinger, cofounder of the House a century earlier – married Elisabeth Law de Lauriston-Boubers, a descendent of John Law de Lauriston, the Scottish adventurer, banker and economist, who co-founded the Compagnie des Indes.
When she married Jacques, Elisabeth (Lily) embraced, with verve and passion, Champagne and the vineyard. In 1941, when her husband died without an heir, the young 42-year-old widow took up the reins without hesitation. Known as “Mrs Jacques” to the villagers of Aÿ and “Aunt Lily” to the family, Elisabeth Lauriston Bollinger was considered by all as one of the great ladies of Champagne. She saw the House through the war and German occupation bravely and firmly and then from the 1950s represented Bollinger wines across the world with her now famous elegance, determination and several noteworthy quotes.
When asked when to drink Champagne, Lily Bollinger famously replied:
“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 drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it—unless I’m thirsty.”
For thirty years, she guided the House she had inherited between tradition and modernity, with intelligence and subtlety. It was she who took the decision to launch Bollinger R.D. in 1967, followed by Vieilles Vignes Françaises in 1969. Madame Bollinger stood down as head of the company in 1971, and died on 22 February 1977, leaving the House with her stamp of an unquestionably great lady of Champagne.
There really is a lot that’s special about Bollinger’s Brut Special Cuvée, an icon among non-vintage Champagnes. That’s why it has become the signature bottling of the Bollinger estate, one of the world’s most revered Champagne houses. It is a blend of the three Champagne varieties, 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Meunier, from mainly Grand or Premier Cru vineyards, symbolic of exceptional quality. It also includes ‘reserve’ wines from previous vintages to add flavour and weight to this sophisticated blend, a subtle combination of structure, length and vivacity; bubbles like velvet; pear, brioche and spicy aromas with notes of fresh walnut. This really is an absolutely fabulous Champagne that can be served for afternoon tea, at a picnic, as a pre-dinner drink and is an ideal accompaniment to sushi, prawns and crayfish, good cured ham or sliced, seared beef fillet.
May De Lencquesaing, grande dame of Glenelly Estate in Stellenbosch
Madame May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, grande dame of Glenelly Estate, is a member of one of Bordeaux’s oldest wine families, the Miailhe, who owned the famous Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Bordeaux. Her pursuit of excellence at Château Pichon Lalande over 30 years saw the wines being elevated to some of the best in the world and led to Madame being awarded Decanter Magazine’s Woman of the Year in 1994, among several other prestigious accolades.
May’s wine journey continued in South Africa with the purchase of Glenelly Estate in 2003 at the age of 78, where she replanted the former fruit farm to pristine vineyards, built a state-of-the-art winery and tasting centre, and began producing a highly-acclaimed range of wines. In 2007 Madame sold Château Pichon to Roederer Champagne and has since devoted her time to the development of Glenelly.
Today, 14 years after she purchased Glenelly, alongside her two grandsons Nicolas Bureau and Arthur de Lencquesaing, the 8th generation of vintners and wine producers, they are reshaping what was already a great success. After closing to the public for a year due to extensive renovations, the Stellenbosch estate re-opened as a world-class winelands destination including a hospitable bistro, a tasting room with spectacular views and a new presentation of Madame’s unique glass collection. Launching a series of new vintages across the range, the team took the opportunity to refresh the brand, creating a clearer, more distinctive identity that better conveys the three key elements that define these award-winning wines: power, elegance and balance.
May de Lencquesaing was recently honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2017 International Wine Challenge Awards. Tim Atkin, Master of Wine and co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge, paid tribute to May at the Awards ceremony,”Anyone who has been lucky enough to drink a bottle of the legendary 1982 Pichon Lalande and to see the foundations she laid at the Château will recognise what she achieved in Bordeaux; anyone who has tasted recent vintages of her Glenelly Lady May red will recognise what she has achieved in South Africa. Few people make such a mark on two continents.”
Glenelly Lady May 2011
The Lady May, Glenelly’s flagship estate wine named in honour of May de Lencquesaing, is an exceptionally graceful and stylish Cabernet Sauvignon with a dash of other Bordeaux varieties. Elegant and complex, the wine develops flavours of cassis, blackcurrant, dark cherry, raspberries and delicate spicy plum. The wine displays an exquisite structure, seamless oak, velvety tannins and a silky savoury finish and has a very good aging capability of 12 to 18 years. A sculpture of Madame de Lencquesaing by Maxime Real del Sarte (1948), a wedding gift, is depicted on the Lady May wine label.
This highly acclaimed Cabernet has received many prestigious awards, including a pinnacle 5-star rating for the 2009 vintage in Platter’s wine guide. The 2011 Lady May received a 92 point rating in Wine Advocate, 93 points in Wine Enthusiast and 95 points in Tim Atkin’s South African Report.
Paulina de Villiers, the original owner of Rickety Bridge Estate
… and one of the first women to own and farm land in the Cape.
On 7 May 1797, more than 200 years ago, the widow Paulina de Villiers was granted the land that straddles the river and rises up against the mountain at Franschhoek. This land that she affectionately named ‘Paulina’s Drift’ later became Rickety Bridge, making her one of the first women to own and farm land in the Cape. Fable has it that her spirit still hearkens after the land which she tamed, nurtured and loved, and that her whisperings can often be heard rustling through the vineyards as she keeps vigil over the vines.
Paying homage to the pioneering spirit of Paulina de Villiers, Rickety Bridge’s restaurant, Paulina’s, and their flagship range of wines, Paulina’s Reserve, proudly bear the name of the estate’s original owner. The award-winning Paulina’s Reserve range comprises a Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc and Semillon.
Paulina’s Reserve award-winning range:
Chenin Blanc 2015, Semillon 2014 and Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Paulina’s Reserve Chenin Blanc 2015: A richly layered wine with gorgeous notes of honey, lemon, peach and pear with hints of spicy oak, a creamy mouth-feel and a long finish of dried fruit, white flowers and subtle minerality.
Paulina’s Reserve Semillon 2014: This Semillon is produced from 25 year old vines. Lime and apple aromas are layered with nuances of honeyed beeswax. The full, rich palate of honey and citrus is perfectly balanced with well-integrated oak notes, minerality and a delightful lingering creamy finish.
Paulina’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014: Classic red and black berries are layered with herbal notes, pencil shavings and oak spice. A full, rich lingering palate follows with powerful fruit expression, silky polished tannins and well-integrated oak.
Muratie’s Ansela van de Caab, an icon of the struggle against slavery and wife of Muratie’s first owner
At Muratie, the passion for preserving the estate’s rich heritage and the intriguing human stories woven into the very fabric of its centuries old history, are captured in every nook and cranny of this family farm. Even the wines reflect a tangible sense of time suspended. The Melck family has honoured the estate’s fascinating history by naming all Muratie’s Iconic Wines after extraordinary characters from the farm’s colourful past.
Muratie Ansela van de Caab, the estate’s flagship Bordeaux-style blend honours Ansela van de Caab, whose remarkable story is written into South African folklore as an icon of the struggle against the horrors of slavery at the Cape in the late 17th century. Born in the slave quarters at the Castle, this little slave girl only had a Christian name, her surname being “van de Caab”, Dutch for “of the Cape”, as was the case with all slaves born at the Cape at the time. The first owner of Muratie, a passionate and determined young German soldier called Laurens Campher, fell in love with Ansela who was a slave-girl at the Castle in Cape Town. During their 14 year courtship, Laurens frequently walked the 64 kilometres to Cape Town and back, a three day trip, to see his beloved Ansela. When she was eventually emancipated, Ansela returned as Laurens’ wife to Muratie. The oak tree Ansela planted to bless their marriage still stands on Muratie, as does a small white house, their first home, built for them by Laurens.
Muratie Ansela van de Caab 2014
The Muratie Ansela van de Caab is a classic Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The Cabernet Sauvignon gives the wine a structured backbone, which is enhanced by the Cabernet Franc, with the Merlot adding the upfront fruit flavours. Dark, intense and brooding, the nose promises much – cedar wood, cigar box, blackcurrants and a distinctive herbaceous and spicy edge courtesy of the Cabernet Franc – and the palate more than delivers on that promise with rich, savoury flavours of black olive tapenade, cassis, some perfumed sandalwood and a long finish which develops from fruit to savoury, and ends with an enticing combination of the two. This wine epitomises balance, with the elegant tannins, fresh acidity and masterly oak treatment all playing their part. This is a wine to savour with the very finest culinary offerings, or simply to be enjoyed with good friends.
It’s your chance to win this Women’s Month!
WIN! We’re giving one lucky reader the chance to win the ultimate Women’s Day wine hamper worth R2 945! This hamper includes:
- Bollinger Special Cuvée in a gift box (R890)
- Glenelly Lady May 2011 Magnum (1.5 litre) (R850)
- Rickety Bridge Paulina’s Reserve range of three wines: Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Semillon 2014 and Chenin Blanc 2015 (R510)
- Muratie Ansela van de Caab 2013 Magnum (1.5 litre) (R695)
To enter, simply complete the entry form below. Terms and conditions apply. Competition ends 31 August 2017.