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Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Nicolas Francois Brut 2002

Vintage Sparkling Wine from Champagne, France
  • JS98
  • V97
  • WE96
  • WS95
  • RP95
  • W&S94
12.5% ABV
  • WE95
  • RP94
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12.5% ABV

Winemaker Notes

A lovely color of sparkling yellow gold veiled in luminous goldenreflections. This scintillating and crystal-like visual perception gives to the effervescence a rising of fine-cut bubbles. All the richness and subtlety of an aromatic curve enhances the maturity of thedelicious fruit. Fine malted notes associated with orchard fruit (white peach, nectarine, Lorraine plum) refined by the purity of thecomplex mandarin zest aromas. The balance of a tension controlled by the blossoming of the wine (seeded and stone fruit, citrus fruit, warm madeleine) and embodied by the line of noble resinous flavors (spruce and juniper berries from Houlle). A truly unique and personal character showing real vinosity. This generous and mineral vintage, characterized by the elegant vinosity of a complex and mature wine, should be served at cellar temperature. It will expose the flavors of a beautiful creamy, roasted poultry or a delicious slice of milk-fed veal.

Critical Acclaim

All Vintages
JS 98
James Suckling
This has a super-composed nose with gently spiced pastry and bright strawberry and cherry fruits, as well as some spiced brulée custard and praline. There's a lot of deep-set complexity here. The palate has a bright, crunchy, and assertive burst of peach and lemon flavor on entry, while the pinot takes the mid-palate with fleshy white cherries and smooth phenolics that hold through to the finish with gently nutty mushroom and cherry-pip flavors to close. Great balance and power. Drink now through to 2025+. This vintage is a 60/40 split between pinot noir and chardonnay.
V 97
Vinous
A mesmerizing, thrilling Champagne, the 2002 Cuvée Nicolas François Billecart is a great example of the vintage at its best. Silky and racy on the palate, yet a bit more restrained than many wines of the year, the Nicolas François Billecart remains vivid and remarkably nuanced. Brioche. apricot jam, wild flowers and honey are some of the many notes that blossom as the Cuvée Nicolas François Billecart shows off its voluptuous personality. The 2002 is 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay.
WE 96
Wine Enthusiast
With its ripe fruits, rich texture and layers of toast, this is a great wine. It shows the quality of the great 2002 vintage brilliantly. It's complex and concentrated with an array of mature fruit flavors that combine to a structured whole. It will improve with age, so drink this great Champagne through 2025 and perhaps longer. Cellar Selection.
WS 95
Wine Spectator
There's a buoyant, almost ethereal quality to this elegant Champagne, offering a rich range of blackberry pâte de fruit, crystallized honey, grilled nut and oyster shell flavors, set on a fine, chalky mousse. Long and mouthwatering, with a clean, citrus-infused finish. Drink now through 2027.
RP 95
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Disgorged in April 2016, after 13 years on the lees in bottle, Billecart-Salmon's recent release of the 2002 Millésime Brut Cuvée Nicolas François is an amazing wine for lovers of matured, pure and spicy Champagnes. This is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir (from premier and grand crus of the Montagne de Reims and the Grande Vallée de la Marne) and 40% Chardonnay (from the Côte des Blancs), with 20% vinified in oak barrels. It opens with a deep, rich, intense, pure and chalky bouquet with ripe, yellow-fleshed stone fruits, citrus fruits and beautiful bottle maturity. This is quite mature compared to the 2002 Clos Saint-Hilaire, and this might be due to the cork, which came out of the bottle neck far too easy. This 2002 is rich but more vinous now than the bright and highly delicate 2006. The palate is pretty intense, dense and viscous, while the finish is refined and pure, with vibrant freshness and gastronomic grip. It is slightly drying, though. This is a very complex, round and intense 2002 with very fine bubbles. It should be served with poultry or turbot in a creamy sauce, as recommended by Billecart's chef de cave, Florent Nys. Tasted from lot L112A675 44251 in November 2018. There might be even better, fresher bottles than this.
Rating: 95+?
W&S 94
Wine & Spirits
Billecart’s rigorous selection of pinot noir and chardonnay (60/40) for this prestige cuvée, in tandem with the remarkably powerful 2002 vintage, make this a youthful 14-year-old wine, still bright and floral, with an underlying density and concentration that predicts years of development ahead. It’s complex, voluptuous and savory, with depths of oyster-shell minerality and the brioche scent of clean, fine lees.
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Billecart-Salmon

Billecart-Salmon

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Billecart-Salmon, Champagne, France
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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 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.

Another defining characteristic of Billecart-Salmon is their practice of double cold settling which they began in 1952. This involves a primary cold settling of the pressed juice for a period of 12 hours whereby the heaviest of the must solids fall to the bottom. The juice is then racked into clean tanks where it is chilled down to 2C for another 48 hours. This second and much colder settling eliminates any wild yeasts and additional heavy elements without the use of enzymes, filtering or a centrifuge. After the second racking, fermentation is initiated by adding dried yeasts and maintained at a long slow pace for up to 5 weeks in order to preserve as many delicate fruit aromas as possible. One varietal that benefits greatly from this is Pinot Meunier which the Billecarts believe is a vital component in world class champagnes. Many producers shy away from Meunier because it is easy to burn off its delicate aromas during fermentation. Malolactic fermentation is allowed to occur but may be blocked in certain years if the vintage conditions warrant it. Since 1987 the family has been making a certain percentage of the wines for their vintage cuvee champagnes in barrel. In these instances malolactic fermentation is always blocked.

As of 2001, Billecart-Salmon moved their winemaking into a brand new facility that they believe to be the most technically advanced in Champagne. The intricate and precise nature of Francois Domi's winemaking demanded that the family use every available resource to create the perfect environment for the production of these truly stellar champagnes. The ability to perform as many as 75 micro-fermentations simultaneously allows M. Domi the luxury of keeping many of his parcels separate until the blending phase. Overall, production levels are modest and many of Billecart-Salmon's prestige cuvees are highly allocated. Speak to your salesperson directly for availability.

Champagne

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Associated with luxury, celebration, and romance, the region, Champagne, is home to the world’s most prized sparkling wine. In order to bear the label, ‘Champagne’, a sparkling wine must originate from this northeastern region of France—called Champagne—and adhere to strict quality standards. Made up of the three towns Reims, Épernay, and Aÿ, it was here that the traditional method of sparkling wine production was both invented and perfected, birthing a winemaking technique as well as a flavor profile that is now emulated worldwide.

Well-drained, limestone and chalky soil defines much of the region, which lend a mineral component to its wines. Champagne’s cold, continental climate promotes ample acidity in its grapes but weather differences from year to year can create significant variation between vintages. While vintage Champagnes are produced in exceptional years, non-vintage cuvées are produced annually from a blend of several years in order to produce Champagnes that maintain a consistent house style.

With nearly negligible exceptions, three varieties are permitted for use in Champagne: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. These can be blended together or bottled as individual varietal Champagnes, depending on the final style of wine desired. Chardonnay, the only white variety, contributes freshness, elegance, lively acidity and notes of citrus, orchard fruit and white flowers. Pinot Noir and its relative Pinot Meunier, provide the backbone to many blends, adding structure, body and supple red fruit flavors. Wines with a large proportion of Pinot Meunier will be ready to drink earlier, while Pinot Noir contributes to longevity. Whether it is white or rosé, most Champagne is made from a blend of red and white grapes—and uniquely, rosé is often produce by blending together red and white wine. A Champagne made exclusively from Chardonnay will be labeled as ‘blanc de blancs,’ while ones comprised of only red grapes are called ‘blanc de noirs.’

Representing the topmost expression of a Champagne house, a vintage Champagne is one made from the produce of a single, superior harvest year. Vintage Champagnes account for a mere 5% of total Champagne production and are produced about three times in a decade. Champagne is typically made as a blend of multiple years in order to preserve the house style; these will have non-vintage, or simply, NV on the label. The term, "vintage," as it applies to all wine, simply means a single harvest year.

CHMBLT3001102_2002 Item# 164796