A few days ago, I had the opportunity to taste a few of the wines of Billecart-Salmon. Although one of the smaller great Champagne houses (Grande Marques), they are also one of the oldest. Founded in 1818, they are the oldest Champagne house to still be under family ownership as opposed to being part of a larger conglomerate like LVMH.
Their wines are lovely, focusing on delicate fruit and freshness. They are one of the few Champagne houses that concentrates particularly on Pinot Meunier, long overshadowed in Champagne and the rest of the world by Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This is in part related to their landholdings, concentrated in the Valle de la Marne, the ideal location in Champagne for that grape.
Brut Reserve Champagne NV: This blend contains 40% Pinot Meunier. It shows in the light, delicate fruit and nice acidic lift. Very delicate, food friendly Champagne.
Blanc de Blancs NV: Blanc de Blancs are 100% Chardonnay. There was a nice creamy texture, apples and nuts. Delicious! I’ve become quite a fan of Blanc de Blancs Champagne.
Brut Rose: In comparison to other Rose Champagnes, this wine was very, very pale salmon colored. It tasted of very subtle red berries. Very much the rose equivalent of the NV. I later discovered that these roses are not made by partial skin contact, but by adding a small amount of still red wine.
Cuvee Nicolas Francois Billecart 1999: This is one of their prestige cuvee, 40% Chardonnay and 60% Pinot Noir, aged in oak barrels. On the nose it was immediately apparent that this was a wonderful, complex wine with notes of toasted nuts and baked apple. It managed to maintain the fruit while also being smooth and rich. At $100, it’s a fantastic value for the money among prestige Champagne cuvees.