The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Billecart-Salmon and Louis Roederer

Posted on | October 22, 2014 | Written by Robin Kelley OConnor | No Comments

Robin_B_8.6.14_72dpiThe holidays feel distant, but they’re fast approaching. With this in mind—as well as the fact that an excellent Champagne is delicious with food—I chose a pair of classic Champagnes today.

One of the great Champagne houses, Billecart-Salmon is a medium-sized family-owned property, founded in 1818 by Nicolas François Billecart and Elisabeth Salmon, in the village of Mareuil-sur-Ay. This estate is perfectionist, demanding nothing short of excellence, shrouded with a bit of mystery as it approaches the firm’s 200th celebration. Billecart-Salmon’s house style whether non-vintage, vintage, blanc de blancs, rosé or deluxe cuvée has been a perennial favorite among sommeliers and those in the wine trade, and the Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve famously stands tall among all the non-vintage cuvées of the most famous champagne houses.

The name Louis Roederer resounds with the name Cristal. One of the wine world’s most revered wines, Cristal Champagne sits in a standalone category for prestige, quality and pure class. Cristal was created in 1876 to satisfy the demanding tastes of Tsar Alexander II when the Tsar asked the house of Louis Roederer to reserve the best cuvée for him every year. To distinguish the Cristal Cuvée, Roederer bottled the champagne in a flat-bottomed, transparent-lead crystal. This tradition has now lasted 138 years and it shows no sign of changing.

Billecart-Salmon Brut Blanc de Blancs NV $84.95

Harmonious and very well balanced, the Billecart-Salmon Brut Blanc de Blancs NV is the epitome of the greatness of Champagne made from 100% Chardonnay. Straw yellow in color, this wine offers tiny bubbles and a beautiful mousse with continual effervescence. The bouquet is steely and fresh, with hints of white flowers, strong notes of citrus including lemon and lime, as well as pear, apple, white peach, hints of ginger and biscuit. Its refreshingly clean palate shows razor-sharp precision complemented by ripe, refreshing acidity, while its citrus notes come through with pineapple, ripe pear, Meyer lemon. Tangy, complex and energetic, this is a Champagne for all occasions that will pair perfectly with a multitude of food dishes.

Louis Roederer Cristal 2005 $209.00

The Louis Roederer Cristal 2005 is a Champagne approaching its tenth birthday. It’s a wine so complex, concentrated and classy that in the words of Louis Roederer’s current Cellar Master, Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, it’s a wine of “pure pleasure and a sophisticated gastronomic wine…both powerful and delicate, combining subtlety and precision.” This 2005 cuvée is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. As with all of Roederer’s Champagnes, this bottling of Cristal, produced only in the best vintages, was aged six years in the Roederer cellars before dégorgement. It is a timeless masterpiece.

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