2008 'Cuvée Louis Salmon' Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru

Grapes Chardonnay
Colour White
Origin France, Champagne
Classification Grand Cru
ABV 12.5%

Made from 100% Chardonnay and coming from Chouilly (40%), Cramant (33%), Mesnil-sur-Oger (22%) and Avize (7%), with one-third fermented and aged in old oak barrels and a dosage of 7 g/L, this is becoming a relatively familiar recipe for this elite House and yet there is nothing familiar about the flavour of this epic new release.
Billecart-Salmon’s elite Blanc de Blancs is named after Louis, the brother of Elisabeth Salmon, who co-founded this illustrious Champagne house over two centuries ago with her husband, Nicolas François Billecart. This is the third release of Louis, and it is, again, completely different in shape and size to the beautiful 2006 (19/20) and crystalline 2007 (19.5/20). The oak was enhanced from 5% in the 2006 vintage to 50% in the 2007 and now it has been knocked back a touch, and this indeed serves to enhance the splendour of the sensational 2008 vintage fruit. I didn’t note that Avize fruit was used in the 2007, but I think it was in the 2006.
Either way, I am confident that this tinkering around the edges has heightened the attack of this incredible wine. The delivery here is something to behold. It is clear from the nose that this wine is made with a horologist’s precision, and while everything starts quietly, there is an uncommon determination here that keeps on coming, leaving you panting with pleasure. On the palate, 2008 Louis perfectly balances extreme tension and white-knuckle drama with the most enchanting and serene jasmine, white tea, and linden blossom notes. It seems mesmerisingly composed from one side of the glass and hellbent on rearranging your taste buds via a national grid-sized electric shock from the other. I am not suggesting that this wine is too young to approach now because, at fourteen years of age, you can drink it, just be aware that this might be one of the wines with the most potential I have ever tasted from this incredible estate.
As always with Billecart, the bubbles are minuscule, and the colour is as pale as can be, so there are no particular visual clues as to the greatness in the glass, but once the perfume takes hold and it pulls you to the glass, you are entirely within its control. I venture that Blanc de Blancs fans will go gaga when they taste this wine. It further improves on the magnificence of the two preceding vintages, and whether or not this is to do with the oak regime or the exact percentage of fruit drawn from each of the Grands Crus villages, I don’t know. However, I am certain that 2008 is a jaw-droppingly serious vintage and eclipses both 2006 and 2007 in terms of sheer class. Therefore, even at this early age, I am convinced that this is the birth of another perfect wine from Billecart-Salmon, and it is certainly the finest value 20/20 from this magnificent House, too.
Drinking range: 2022 - 2070 Rating: 20++/20 Matthew Jukes (Apr 2022)

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Complex and rich nose of dried apricot, lemon pith, dried pineapple, praline, hazelnut, white cocoa, chalk and nutmeg. Creamy and delicious fruit here, yet it’s mineral and refined with very fine, precise bubbles. Structured, with a sharp, persistent backbone of acidity. Long and very focused. Chardonnay from 40% Chouilly, 33% Cramant, 21% Mesnil-Sur Oger, 7% Avize. 67% vinified in stainless steel tank, 33% in oak barrels. Disgorged October 2020. 7g/l dosage. Drink or hold. Rating: 96 James Suckling, (May 2022)

To look at the wine is shiny platinum gold, fine bead; the aromatics are pure and fresh with sea spray, crisp white apple and a sense of wet chalk, after 30 minutes more complexity reveals itself – more fruit and fresh nuts; in the mouth the wine is tense with tingly, mineral-driven acidity, ultra-fine texture, fresh, bright, beautifully balanced with pure Sicilian lemon, a touch of aspirin; the finish has you wanting more – it finishes dry, mineral and chalky, with lemon zest. Impressive, with a long life ahead of it.Peter Dean, The Buyer (Sep 2022)

The 2008 Brut Blancs de Blancs Louis Salmon is fabulous. It offers a compelling mix of 2008 energy and the complexity that develops with time in the bottle. Orchard fruit, spice, dried flowers, chamomile and tangerine peel all grace this exquisite, nuanced Champagne. Readers can expect a rich, broad Champagne endowed with notable textural intensity. Hints of marzipan, lemon confit and white flowers linger. Disgorged: October 2020. Drinking range: 2024 - 2038 Rating: 95 Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate (May 2023)

Champagne Billecart Salmon

Founded by Nicolas-Francois Billecart in 1818, and situated in the village of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, this remains one of the few family owned businesses in Champagne. the family has 100% control of production. They obtain their grapes from an area covering 220 hectares, the majority of which come from in and around the region of Épernay, and own a total of 15 hectares themselves. Today the estate is run by François and Antoine Roland-Billecart, the 6th generation of the family to lead the independent House, still with the support of their father Jean Roland-Billecart.

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