Billecart Salmon epitomizes the style, grace and elegance typically associated with Champagne. Founded in 1818 by Nicolas Francois Billecart and Elisabeth Salmon, Billecart Salmon produces some of the most magical and inspiring champagnes available in the market.
Billecart Salmon currently stands as the oldest family operated champagne house and is now being managed by seventh generation brothers, Francois and Antoine. Considered to be a medium size house by Champagne standards, they call Mareuil-sur-Ay home and own a total of 15 hectares of vineyards distributed between the Vallee de la Marne and the Cote des Blancs; a number of their parcels of land happen to be of Premier Cru and Grand Cru pedigree. Billecart’s distinctive style promotes and protects the delicacy of its fruit while highlighting glorious fruit aromas, layered complexity, rich textures and linear precision.
There are currently approximately 5000 champagne producers; however most people are only familiar with names like Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Pommery and Laurent Perrier; and pop culture dictates that people should drink Crystal as if it were water (what a shame…) Billecart Salmon is certainly not one of these marketing powerhouses, but should be regarded with the same, if not higher, esteem as they have successfully delivered excellence and finesse for over 200 years. Their champagnes are steeped in tradition, their land and their family rather than volume sales and marketing tactics. Lucky for us, these champagnes can only be found at the finest wine shops and in the best restaurants around the world.
Champagne lovers swear by Billecart Salmon’s Rosé, however Haute Wines was able to experience a unique tasting opportunity presented by Francois Roland himself, the Managing Director of Billecart Salmon, where he guided media and trade through his entire line up of champagnes. This week brings you Billecart Salmon’s crème de la crème. We tasted through nine wines and these were our favorites.
Billecart Salmon Brut Reserve, NV, $55 – This is Billecart’s signature wine. For anyone who drinks Champagne “à la Lilly Bollinger,” $10 more than the yellow label gets you 10 times the wine in Billecart Salmon. There is nothing particularly wrong with the yellow label, but this is exactly what is right about Billecart…It is deeply concentrated with wonderful, soft cooked apples, sweet honey roasted hazelnuts, tart cranberries and butter biscuits running through the nose and the palate. It is 100% pleasure and with Thanksgiving around the corner, Billecart’s Brut Reserve sounds like the ideal way to launch the festivities.
Billecart Salmon Brut Blanc de Blanc, 1999, $240 – This is the type of bubbly that sends you to the clouds. Thank goodness we were partying in 1999 because now most of us are old enough to enjoy the fruits of the vintage, a bit over a decade later. This 100% chardonnay sparkler has deep and intense citrus notes like candied grapefruit skin, bitter orange marmalade and meyer lemon oil. These miraculously fortified flavors are intertwined with a string of buttered, toasted almonds lending additional layers of complexity and body.
Billecart Salmon Le Clos Saint-Hilaire, 1998, $750 – Only one word aptly describes this wine – Sensational. It comes from a vineyard only 1 hectare of land; that is ¼ of an acre. It is a Blanc de Noir, meaning it comes from only pinot noir and pinot meunier; in this case, it is 100% pinot noir. The vineyard regulations are so stringent for this wine, each plant only yields 10 clusters of grapes and is only made in exceptional years. Le Clos Saint-Hilare is as unique as it gets. The wine starts off with an dry, oxidized almond not, similar to a dry oloroso sherry, but develops notes of cooked, sweetened quince, honeyed oranges, chamomile flowers and extra buttery short bread. Absolutely extraordinary.