I try to keep my investment and purchases of sparkling wines and Champagnes in a reasonable range. My daily sparkler, the Veuve du Vernay form Loire is well under $10. But once in a while, I will have a special treat, like the Billecart-Salmon, Le Reve from Domaine Carneros, the Lanson or the Comtes.
Here is a nice review of the 2006 Billecart-Salmon “Cuvée Nicolas François Billecart” Brut Champagne (Previously $160) ($99.99).
This is a simply stunning price for one of the most renowned cuvées in the region. With unanimous acclaim and from a top-notch vintage, our regular $160 price would be more-than-fair for what’s in the bottle. But at under $100 and way below what you’ll find it for elsewhere, it is destined to be an instant bestseller and an asset to any collector of the world’s finest wines. Named for the house’s founder, this pure and tantalizing expression of Champagne is sourced from some of the region’s most prized plots. Stephan Reinhardt of Wine Advocate was delighted with this vintage, writing: “The typical finesse of Billecart-Salmon is palatable as well as amazingly pure, with the persistent structure of a great Champagne.” The wine’s pedigree is immediately recognizable from the first sip. Having spent eleven years on the lees, it shows unparalleled range, depth, and character, putting it on par with the region’s very top tête de cuvées. Any fan of Billecart-Salmon will want to add this beauty to their collection as it deftly captures the signature style of this historic house. Champagnes of this caliber always disappear quickly and given the strong critical acclaim, we expect this 2006 will follow suit, especially at this incredible one-time price.
Further proof: 97 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: “Created in 1964 as a tribute to the house’s founder, the youngest release is the 2006 Millésime Brut Cuvée Nicolas François, a blend of 60% Pinot Noir from premier and grand crus from the Montagne de Reims and the Grande Vallée de la Marne and 40% Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs. Almost entirely fermented in stainless steel (only 5% was vinified in oak barrels) and aged for 11 years on the lees, this is a beautifully ripe and rich yet pure champagne with ripe fruit flavors intermixed with chalky notes and brioche/nougat flavors. The palate is intense and concentrated in its rich fruit and substantial depth but also tight, highly elegant and perfectly balanced. The typical finesse of Billecart-Salmon is palatable as well as amazingly pure, with the persistent structure of a great Champagne. The 2006 already drinks dangerously well, but there is no need to hurry, this will go a long way.
Did you know? Scientists estimate that one million bubbles are the likely number that will form in a flute of Champagne – that is if you leave it to sit (thereby enabling all those bubbles to form), rather than drinking from the flute straight away. In our case, however, that’s an unlikely scenario…
Little known fact: Around 80% of champagne is produced by the large houses such as Tattinger, Moët and Veuve Clicquot, but they only own around 10% of the vineyards. This has led to a unique system where they purchase grapes from smaller growers after each harvest. Recent years have seen small changes and a rise in “grower champagnes,” which can be more diverse in style, as well as those made in local co-ops.
Older is better? The oldest bottle of Champagne was only found in 2010 in the Baltic Sea, among 167 other bottles of bubbly that had aged in near-perfect condition. Among them was a 170-year-old bottle of Veuve Clicquot, its flavour, age aside, largely uncontaminated despite so long under water. The Champagne was later sold at auction for a fizztastic €30,000 ($37,720), setting a new world record.