2006 Billecart Salmon Cuvee Nicolas Francois Champagne

$205

Fresh honey, baked apples with dried flowers, cherry pastry and an amazing cohesive richness. White peaches, baked cherry pastry, brioche, and a complex, smooth fleshy build in texture coats your mouth. “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.” – Wine Advocate

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Chardonnay

As one of the most popular grapes for growing and consuming, Chardonnay can be made in a wide range of styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. These styles can vary from a sparkling Blanc de Blanc, or fresh fermented in stainless steel, to rich and creamy white wine aged in oak barrels. While Chardonnay can flourish in many environments, in its homeland of Burgundy it can produce some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. Whereas from California it can produce both oaky, buttery styles as well as leaner, European-inspired wines. A Somm secret: the Burguny subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style with high levels of acidity. Most people who do not like oaky/buttery Chardonnay may likely enjoy Chablis.

Notable regions for this grape include Burgundy (and Chablis) in France, Central Coast, Napa, and Sonoma in CA, and Western Australia.

When pairing with meals, consider the characteristics, flavors, and acidity of your food first. You always want to try to match the same characteristics and intensities with your wine. No brainer pairing options include seafood, salads, and white meat. Chardonnay, with its vast versatility, is everyone’s best friend.

Pinot Noir

This elusive and delicate light-bodied grape is a winegrowers dream, but can be difficult to achieve. Stubborn, yet flirtatious, Pinot Noir is tantalizing creating a beautiful dance between the grape and the winemaker. The resulting light red wine can be nothing short of spectacular. Loved for its red fruit and spicy characteristics, its also a great food partner.

Look for notable regions including Burgundy, France, Central Coast or Sonoma in CA, Willamette Valley in Oregon, and Pfalz or Baden in Germany as well as many other regions around the world in New Zealand, Australia, Chile, and Argentina.

Champagne, France

Champagne, the place where their reputation is as respected as their wines. This prestigious region is home to some of the most premium sparkling wines in the world. Champagne is a province located in the northeast of France, just a few hours from the big city of Paris. Due to having a cool and continental climate, frost can be one of the biggest challenges here. To minimize frost, you’ll find that the vineyards are planted on slopes and have well-draining chalk soil. Within the region, there is only one appellation, Champagne AC. Although, there are 5 main sub-regions: Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne, Côte des Blancs, Côte de Sézanne, and Côte des Bar, and many premier cru and grand cru villages. Champagne producers are known to be committed to sustainable agriculture lessening the using of many fertilizers and pesticides. Fun fact: You’ll often hear many people call sparkling wine from other regions, Champagne, but the term Champagne can solely be used if the wine comes from this region only.

There are three main grape varietals used in winemaking: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. These grapes are used to make wine in the traditional method, meaning they will undergo a second fermentation in the bottle to be later sold. It is a technique often used for premium sparkling wines, but can be costly (for consumers as well) and time-consuming. Champagne can come in a range of quality levels and style all varying flavors, sweetness, and levels of aging. Brut (dry) Champagne is by far the most popular. Non-vintage wines, using wine from different years, can be lighter in body with more fresh fruit flavors than those of specific vintage wines. Vintage wines are likely to be from the best growing years and parcels of grapes, but not always! Keep your eyes peeled for the increasing trend of Brut Nature Champagne, this means no added sugar and is the driest style of Champagne. 

Created in 1964 as a tribute to the house’s founder, the 2006 Millésime Brut Cuvée Nicolas Francois is 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.

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