2002 Champagne Billecart-Salmon, Cuvée Nicolas François, Brut

2002 Champagne Billecart-Salmon, Cuvée Nicolas François, Brut

Product: 20028017796
Prices start from £612.00 per case Buying options
2002 Champagne Billecart-Salmon, Cuvée Nicolas François, Brut

Description

Cuvée Nicolas François was created in 1964 in deference to Billecart-Salmon’s eponymous founder; with the 2002 his successor, François Roland-Billecart feels that the wine has scaled new heights, with both the superb vintage conditions and the age of the vines, not to mention the subtle winemaking which now combines oak and stainless steel for the first fermentation, all conspiring towards perfection.

The extended ageing, over nearly a decade, has engendered greater autolytic harmony, hitherto concealed behind the wealth of orchard fruits and chalky zest. The palate adds notes of white tobacco, white peach, supple spice and intimations of Burgundian poise. For the more whimsical taster, Proustian madeleine may be detected, perhaps recalling great bygone vintages and posing the very real possibility that this will surpass them all.
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3 x 150cl magnum
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About this WINE

Champagne Billecart-Salmon

Champagne Billecart-Salmon

Billecart-Salmon is one of the few remaining Champagne houses to be owned by the original family and was established in 1818 by Nicolas-François Billecart.

Most of Billecart-Salmon's fruit comes from a small vineyard holding, though this is supplemented with grapes bought in from the Marne Valley and the Montagne de Reims. Meticulous production techniques, from the use of their own cultured yeast to its long, slow, cool fermentation, ensure that the family has 100% control of production.

Billecart-Salmon is renowned for the quality of its delicate rosé, while the Brut Réserve (a blend of three vintages) is a beautifully harmonious and balanced wine. All have the ability to age very well.

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Champagne

Champagne

Our wine buyers leave no stone unturned in their quest to find the best Champagnes, and Berry Bros. & Rudd takes particular pride in its eclectic range of artisan Champagnes that represent a real sense of terroir, original winemaking, labour-intensive viticulture (often organic/biodynamic) and the uncompromising excellence of the end product.

Grand Marques Artisan Champagnes
 Ayala Perrier Jouët Alfred Gratien Lancelot-Pienne
 Billecart-Salmon, Pol Roger Bonnaire Lahaye
 Bollinger Pommery Cédric Bouchard R&L Legras
 Dom Perignon Louis Roederer Gaston Chiquet Marguet
 Krug Ruinart Guy Larmandier Paul Bara
 Lanson Salon Eric Rodez Pierre Péters
 Laurent-Perrier Taittinger Janisson Baradon René Geoffroy
 Moët & Chandon Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Jacquesson Vergnon
    Larmandier-Bernier Vilmart & Cie


How Champagne is made 

In 1668, in the village of Hautvillers, the monk turned cellar master, Dom Pérignon, is said to have discovered how to make sparkling wine; while the same technique is used all over the world today, the region of Champagne continues to make some of the finest.

So what makes wine sparkle? Adding a solution of sugar and yeast to a white wine starts another fermentation in the bottle which results in the bubbles. Once the yeasts have done their job, a sediment known as ‘lees’ collects on the side of the bottle; contact with this deposit during maturation gives the wine its characteristic flavours of freshly-baked bread, toast and biscuit. Once this sediment is isolated (remuage) and removed (dégorgement), the Champagne is topped up with a sugar solution to make it dry or sweet

The Champagne Wine Region

Champagne is the most northerly wine region in France and is situated north-east of Paris. There are three main vineyard areas: Côte des Blancs, Vallée de la Marne and Montagne de Reims.
 
Ripeness of the grapes is often a problem, which is one reason why a blend of grape varieties is usually used: the white Chardonnay to give fruit and elegance, and two reds – Pinot Noir (particularly to provide a ‘backbone’) and Pinot Meunier.

In Champagne there are around 15,000 growers and 290 Champagne houses. Traditionally, growers have sold their grapes to the Champagne houses which account for 70 percent of production and 90 percent of exports. Recently, increasing numbers of growers are making growers’ Champagnes themselves, using their own grapes.
 
The Champagne houses used to be organized into a Syndicat des Grandes Marques, which had 28 members, not all of them of equal quality. That has now been superseded by the Club des Grandes Marques, with 24 participants: Ayala, Billecart-Salmon, Bollinger, Canard- Duchêne, Deutz, Dom Pérignon, Heidsieck & Co. Monopole, Henriot, Krug, Lanson, Laurent-Perrier, Moët & Chandon, G.H. Mumm, Perrier Jouët, Joseph Perrier, Piper-Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Pommery, Ch. & A Prieur, Louis Roederer, Ruinart, Salon, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin.
 
Champagne Styles

Vintage Champagne
Made exclusively from grapes grown in a single year, this is produced only in the best years, and is released at about six years of age.
 
Non-Vintage Champagne
Most of the Champagne produced today is Non-Vintage, comprising the blended product of grapes from multiple vintages. Typically grapes from a single-year vintage will form the base of the blend, ranging from 15 percent to up to 40 percent.

Rosé Champagne
Typically light in colour, rosé Champagne is produced either by leaving the clear juice of black grapes to macerate on its skins for a brief time (known as saigneé), or by adding a small amount of Pinot Noir red wine to the sparkling wine cuvée. The saigneé method is more elaborate and costly, requiring highly-skilled winemaking, hence only a few houses still use it – among them Laurent Perrier and Louis Roederer.

Luxury (Prestige) Cuvée
Top of the range, this is vintage-dated. Famous examples include Louis Roederer's Cristal, Laurent-Perrier's Grand Siècle, Moët & Chandon's Dom Pérignon, Duval-Leroy's Cuvée Femme and Pol Roger's Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill.

Demi-Sec (Rich) Champagne
Demi-Sec or Rich is a medium-dry to medium-sweet style which occupies the other end of the spectrum from the standard dry "Brut" style. Brut Natural or Brut Zéro contains less than three grams of sugar per litre, Extra Brut has less than six grams of sugar per litre, and Brut less than 12 grams of sugar per litre. 

Recently Disgorged Champagne
R.D. (Recently Disgorged) style was introduced for the first time by Madame Bollinger in 1961, on the 1952 Bollinger Grande Année vintage. Late disgorgement allows the Champagne to retain its freshness, vivacity and fruity expression, despite the ageing.

Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Blanc de Blancs denotes a Champagne made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes.

Blanc de Noirs Champagne
Blanc de Noir Champagnes are made exclusively from black grapes, Pinot Noir (typically) and Pinot Meunier grapes. Bollinger's prestige cuvée Vieilles Vignes Françaises is the lead example.

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Champagne Blend

Champagne Blend

Which grapes are included in the blend, and their proportion, is one of the key factors determining the style of most Champagnes. Three grapes are used - Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier.

26% of vineyards in Champagne are planted with Chardonnay and it performs best on the Côtes des Blancs and on the chalk slopes south of Epernay. It is relatively simple to grow, although it buds early and thus is susceptible to spring frosts. It produces lighter, fresher wines than those from Burgundy and gives finesse, fruit and elegance to the final blend. It is the sole grape in Blancs de Blancs, which are some of the richest long-lived Champagnes produced.

Pinot Noir accounts for nearly 40% of the plantings in Champagne and lies at the heart of most blends - it gives Champagne its body, structure, strength and grip. It is planted across Champagne and particularly so in the southern Aube district.

The final component is Pinot Meunier and this constitutes nearly 35% of the plantings. Its durability and resistance to spring frosts make the Marne Valley, a notorious frost pocket, its natural home. It ripens well in poor years and produces a soft, fruity style of wine that is ideal for blending with the more assertive flavours of Pinot Noir. Producers allege that Pinot Meunier lacks ageing potential, but this does not deter Krug from including around 15% of it in their final blends.


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Critics reviews

Wine Advocate95+/100
Wine Advocate95+/100
Disgorged in April 2016, after 13 years on the lees in bottle, Billecart-Salmon's recent release of the 2002 Millsime Brut Cuve Nicolas Franois is an amazing wine for lovers of matured, pure and spicy Champagnes. This is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir (from premier and grand crus of the Montagne de Reims and the Grande Valle de la Marne) and 40% Chardonnay (from the Cte des Blancs), with 20% vinified in oak barrels. It opens with a deep, rich, intense, pure and chalky bouquet with ripe, yellow-fleshed stone fruits, citrus fruits and beautiful bottle maturity. This is quite mature compared to the 2002 Clos Saint-Hilaire, and this might be due to the cork, which came out of the bottle neck far too easily. This 2002 is rich but more vinous now than the bright and highly delicate 2006. The palate is pretty intense, dense and viscous, while the finish is refined and pure, with vibrant freshness and gastronomic grip. It is slightly drying, though. This is a very complex, round and intense 2002 with very fine bubbles. It should be served with poultry or turbot in a creamy sauce, as recommended by Billecart's chef de cave, Florent Nys. Tasted from lot L112A675 44251 in November 2018. There might be even better, fresher bottles than this.
Stephan Reinhardt - 07/12/2018 Read more