Among the great wineries, famous for the production of Champagne wines, Billecart-Salmon Maison occupies, without a doubt, a remarkable position. On the other hand, it is not by chance that two thousandths (1959 and 1961) place themselves in the first two places of the ranking emerged from the famous blind tasting held in Stockholm in 1999 (the first, 1959, even called the “Champagne of the millennium”).
If today the winery has a well-deserved reputation, much is due to the effort of each of the 6 generations of the Billecart-Salmon family who helped build and maintain it. A special mention goes to Charles Roland-Billecart, author, from the end of the ’50s, of the revolution in production techniques, with the adoption of a longer fermentation, at a lower temperature, and the freezing racking. To carry out these operations with greater simplicity was also built, in the same years, an area that housed many small vats (47 hectoliters) in stainless steel, thermoregulated, which allowed to vinify the grapes separately, cru per cru, parcel per parcel and varietal per varietal. The result was, from the start, the creation of wines with a more delicate and refined bouquet, with an extreme cleanliness of the fruit, which became the definitive winery expressive signature.
Among the wines currently in production the top quality is represented by Clos Saint Hilaire, coming from a vineyard of Pinot Noir planted, in 1964, in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. Here the vines are cultivated according to the biodynamic philosophy, still worked manually, or with the carthorse (not to weigh too much the ground and leave it porous and breathable), characterized by the pasture of the sheep that perform a precious action of natural fertilization. All these attentions give life to smaller and concentrated bunches that are pressed directly in the vineyard to preserve the freshness of the grapes just picked. The vinification takes place in a few pieces of oak (the production hardly exceeds 4000 bottles) and is followed by an aging in bottle, on the lees, for 14 years.
The 2002 vintage (produced only in 1000 pieces) is the son of an excellent vintage that gave rise to an intense golden color wine, with a fine and incessant perlage. The rich olfactory range opens on a sensation of raisins surrounded by orange blossom honey, toasted hazelnuts and candied citrus fruits, enriched, slowly, by well-leavened panettone, sweet almond, blond tobacco and nutmeg, with final echoes of bakery and burnt bone. The palate is sumptuous, tickled by bubbles that give a delicious creaminess, enriched by a sensation halfway between the balsamic freshness and the juicy acidity of kumquat, with a return of sultanas and pastry scents accompanying the long closing.
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