Bollinger is fermented in oak barrels, making the Champagne well-suited to aging in the cellar. At harvest, only the first pressing is used, the cuvée, unless the vintage is of particularly high quality, when a second pressing of Chardonnay will be used. Bollinger sells the second pressing, the tailles.
Bollinger utilizes two pressing houses (Louvois and Mareuil sur Aÿ) to ensure a short distance between harvest location and pressing. When possible, grapes purchased from growers are pressed by the house. When the pressed wine arrives, the Bollinger cellar master analyzes the musts for quality, discarding and selling off those that do not meet the house standards.
The first fermentation is done cru by cru, variety by variety, preserving many of the unique characteristics of the vines location. Bollinger is one of the few Champagne houses to do some first fermentation in oak barrels. Wines that will not hold up to first fermentation in wood are vinified in vats. Bollinger Champagnes usually undergo malolactic fermentation. The Grande Annee 1995 did not undergo malolactic fermentation. Bollinger uses only traditional yeasts, having decided that new generations of yeasts (agglomerated yeasts and encapsulated yeasts) do not produce satisfactory Champagne.
Vintage wine, including all wine to be used in Grand Annee, is fermented in small oak barrels, sorted according to origin and variety. Both oak and stainless steel are used for non-vintage wine. Bollinger employs the last cooper in Champagne. The oak barrels are all at least four years old, avoiding the transfer of tannins to the wine. The wines are only lightly filtered.
All Bollinger Champagne spends a long time on its lees, contributing to the complex flavour of the wine. Though appellation d'origine contrôlée rules only require 15 months on lees for non-vintage Champagne and three years on lees for vintage, Bollinger ages their non-vintage wines three years, and the vintage wines five to eight years. Furthermore, the Grand Année and R.D. Champagnes are riddled by hand.
At disgorgement, Bollinger wines are given a low dosage, to maintain the balance and flavor of the wine. The company uses 6-9 grams of sugar per liter for the Special Cuvée and La Grande Année. The extra-brut R.D. is dosed between 4 and 5 grams. After dosage, the wines are aged an additional several months, resting for a minimum of three months before shipping.