100% Chardonnay from four grands crus on the Côtes de Blancs: Avize, Cramant, Chouilly and Mesnil-sur-Oger.
An exceptionally elegant, silky and surprisingly delicate champagne. I was expecting power, but this is like a mouthful of shimmering ribbons—an unusual floral fragrance, like the elusive scent of lily of the valley in an early-morning garden. Rich citrus weaved into a baked pear, tingling with green apple sherbet. The bubbles float over the wine like cashmere lace—tremendous purity. And the wine develops in the glass in a way I was not expecting, becoming richer, more dense, beginning to taste of violets and fresh-churned pink clay, of bread-yeast starters and sleepy pools of candlelight—a poet's champagne.
Drink 2022 - 2028
Tamlyn Currin, JancisRobinson.com (December 2022)
Based on the 2015 vintage and dominated this year by Mesnil sur Oger, Billecart's NV Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru was disgorged in July 2021 with seven grams per litre dosage. Exhibiting aromas of citrus oil, tart stone fruit, freshly baked bread and white flowers, it's medium to full-bodied, pillowy and layered, its sweet core of fruit framed by racy acids and chalky structure.
Drink 2025 - 2043
William Kelley, Wine Advocate (August 2022)
A full-bodied sparkling with sliced cooked pears and apples. Dusty chalk and some mineral and stone undertones. Full-bodied with firmness and tightness at the end. Linear and compact on the palate. Tangy finish.
Drink or hold
James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com (August 2022)
The current release of the NV Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut is based on the 2015 vintage and pours a pale straw colour. The nose is clean and pure, with a sun-kissed ripeness, and reveals fresh aromatics of candied green apple, lime, and bread dough. The mousse is elegant, and the wine is ripe, with a rounded feel, and fresh with ripe green apple, lemon-lime, and chalk, followed by a balanced and fairly long finish. It is straightforward, approachable, and classic.
Mathieu Roland-Billecart assumed the position of CEO at this estate in 2019 and represents the seventh generation in his family. The house is based in Maureuil sur Ay, which is also the location of the monopole vineyard of Clos Saint-Hillaire. They source from approximately 300 hectares of vines, owning a third. French and Stockingur barrels with medium toast are purchased new and seasoned at the house for three to five years before use.
About 80% of production is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks. Only the best plots are fermented in barrels at cold temperatures before being transferred to stainless steel tanks for ageing after no more than six months. None of the wines are aged in barrel, and they never allow for malolactic fermentation to occur in barrel.
Drink 2022 - 2037
Audrey Frick, JebDunnuck.com (November 2022)
About this WINE
Champagne Billecart-Salmon was founded in 1818 in the village of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ near Epernay. It remains family-owned and run; Mathieu Roland-Billecart represents the seventh generation here, following in the footsteps of founders Nicolas-François Billecart and Elisabeth Salmon.
A family tasting committee meets weekly, joined by chef du cave Florent Nys. The eight-person panel includes three generations of the family, notably including Jean Roland-Billecart (who alone has over 75 vintages of experience). Not one cuvée is released until every member of the committee agrees on the blend.
Billecart-Salmon is a large Champagne House, with around 100 hectares of vines of its own. The process of organic conversion for the vineyards was started in 2019. The house also buys fruit from growers covering another 300 hectares of vines. Most of the fruit comes from the Champagne sub-regions of Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne and Côte des Blancs.
Rosé wines are produced by leaving the juice of red grapes to macerate on their skins for a brief time to extract pigments (natural colourings). However, Rosé Champagne is notable in that it is produced by the addition of a small percentage of red wine – usually Pinot Noir from the village of Bouzy – during blending.
Chardonnay is often seen as the king of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.