Billecart-Salmon, Les Rendez-Vous, No. 3 Meunier, Extra Brut NV
Billecart-Salmon was first and foremost the result a union between Nicolas François Billecart and Elisabeth Salmon who, in 1818 and just married, founded their own Champagne House in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, a small village near Epernay. At their side was Louis Salmon, Elisabeth’s brother and a passionate oenologist who, from the very beginning, dedicated himself to the development of the wines. From then on, their heirs have never stopped aiming for excellence in winemaking.
Today led by seventh generation Mathieu Roland-Billecart, each family member has endeavored to pursue the family tradition and stay faithful to the same motto: "give priority to quality, strive for excellence." Billecart-Salmon rigorously cultivates an estate of 100 hectares, sourcing grapes from an area totaling 300 hectares across 40 crus of the Champagne region.
The majority of the grapes used for vinification come from a radius of 20km around Epernay, where the Grand Crus of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay co-exist, in the vineyards of the Montagne de Reims, the Vallée de la Marne and the Côte des Blancs. As part of the quest to increase the quality of their champagnes, in the 1950s, the House introduced the technique of cold settling combined with the use of stainless steel tanks for a longer fermentation at a lower temperature. Vinification occurs primarily on small thermoregulated tanks which allows the House to vinify parcels separately, preserving nuances of expression of "terroir". Low temperature fermentation slows down the process, encouraging aromas to delicately develop and allow the purity of the fruit to be fully expressed; absolute signature of the Billecart-Salmon style: finesse, elegance and balance. Over three years of ageing on lees in the chalk cellars for the non-vintage cuvees and over ten year for the prestige vintage cuvees, the family allows their wines to blossom. Giving the luxury of time to play its role is also behind the grandeur of Billecart-Salmon champagnes.
93 Points Decanter
The wine opens with a slightly floral aspect and a hint of pear tart with lemon overtones. There is a sense of levity, but more air introduces a more brooding, darker notion of candle wax. That lovely but full-flavoured lightness also characterises the palate with wonderfully bright tension. Again that darker, somehow earthy Meunier note adds a hint of waxiness that almost verges onto smokiness – especially on the finish – while the surface remains bright, light and lemony. The mousse is fine and the wine has a pleasant suppleness and this sense of lightness just begs for another sip.