Billecart Salmon Brut Reserve
Billecart Salmon Brut Reserve 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 Brut Reserve’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 percent control of production. The Brut Reserve is a light, fine and harmonious champagne. Its blend is made with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier from three different years, sourced from the best sites in the Champagne region.
The Billecart family has been living in Mareuil-sur-Ay since the 16th century. When Nicolas Francois Billecart married Elisabeth Salmon in the early 1800s the two families’ long held vineyards were married as well. This led to Nicolas’ decision to leave his law practice and take over the family wine estate. In 1818 he founded the house of Billecart-Salmon which now stands as the oldest continuously family owned and operated house in Champagne. It is currently managed by the seventh generation, brothers Francois and Antoine Roland-Billecart. The cellars are in the hands of renowned “chef de cave” Francois Domi.
Billecart Salmon Brut Reserve owns a total of 15 hectares of vineyards. Eleven of these are in the Vallee de la Marne split between 4ha of Grand Cru in Ay and Premier Cru in Mareuil-sur-Ay and 7ha in the village of Damery. In the Cote des Blancs the family owns 4ha of Grand Cru vineyards in the villages of Chouilly, Avize and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. With respect to harvest one of the most distinctive aspects of Billecart-Salmon is their philosophy that an early harvest yields more elegant and delicate champagnes. They look for a strong acid structure rather than alcohol as a preservative and therefore, never harvest at higher than 10 degrees of potential alcohol.
This is without doubt one of the finest, yet least known, Grande Marque Champagnes, made with mainly Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. This Champagne is lively, elegantly textured and fresh, with a very long finish.