Billecart Salmon Cuvée Nicolas Francois Brut 2006 Champagne ~ Champagne, France
97/100 - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
96/100 - Decanter
95/100 - Wine Enthusiast
94/100 - James Suckling
94/100 - Wine Spectator
93/100 - Cellartracker
Wine Spectator - "Fine and creamy, this harmonious Champagne layers a firm backbone of bright acidity with a lovely range of orange pâte de fruit, marzipan, lime blossom and toasted brioche notes. Tightly meshed and racy, with a long, lightly spiced finish."
James Suckling - "Fresh honey and bright poached apples with dried flowers, cherry pastry and richness that flows to the palate. A ripe array of white peaches, baked cherry pastry and a complex, smooth fleshy build in texture. White peaches and brioche to close. Drinking well now, but it will deliver plenty in the next decade on cork."
Wine Enthusiast - "Named after the founder of the house, Nicolas François Billecart (who married Elisabeth Salmon), this wine is now at its peak. It is poised between fresh apple fruits and broader, riper maturity. This balance gives a ripe wine hinting at toast and almonds while still with a dry aftertaste."
Decanter - "This wine has always been a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay since its inception in 1964, honouring the house's co-founder. Like the other founder's cuvées, 5% of the wine is vinified in old oak barrels and it then spends 11 years on its lees with partial malolactic fermentation. It has a beautiful mousse and fine, fast-streaming bubbles, and is very tight and reserved at first, opening in the glass to reveal refined sous bois, pastry, tart red apple, rich yellow plum and lifted floral notes. Elegant, complex, long and zesty, it's still very young with its full potential yet to show."
Robert Walker Wine Associate - "Created in 1964 as a tribute to the house’s founder, the youngest release is the 2006 Millésime Brut Cuvée Nicolas François, a blend of 60% Pinot Noir from premier and grand crus from the Montagne de Reims and the Grande Vallée de la Marne and 40% Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs. Almost entirely fermented in stainless steel (only 5% was vinified in oak barrels) and aged for 11 years on the lees, this is a beautifully ripe and rich yet pure champagne with ripe fruit flavors intermixed with chalky notes and brioche/nougat flavors. The palate is intense and concentrated in its rich fruit and substantial depth but also tight, highly elegant and perfectly balanced. The typical finesse of Billecart-Salmon is palatable as well as amazingly pure, with the persistent structure of a great Champagne. The 2006 already drinks dangerously well, but there is no need to hurry, this will go a long way."
Matthew Jukes "This small house is one of the finest producers of Champagne, full stop."
Billecart-Salmon 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'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 Champagne region lies at the northern edge of the world's vineyard-growing areas, with lower average temperatures than any other French wine region. In this kind of cool climate, the growing season is rarely warm enough to ripen grapes to the levels required for standard winemaking. Even in temperate years, Champagne's grapes still bear the hallmark acidity of a marginal climate, and it was only the discovery of secondary fermentation that provided a wine style capable of harnessing – and even embracing – this tartness.