04 Jan Please The Palate Wine of the Week: Champagne Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru and an eco-friendly Champagne bucket
Toasting a new year, we all think about how we want the new year to look and we make conscious and unconscious resolutions. One resolution we all should make is to be sustainable. And I think I started my year on a sustainable note as I enjoyed a bottle of Champagne Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru that was chilled in an eco-friendly Champagne bucket. This bucket was made in Europe from 100% organic materials with a low impact on CO2 emissions and came with an eco-designed and fully recyclable gift box. Delicious Champagne with sustainability in mind was a great way to start the new year. That is why the Champagne Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru and an eco-friendly Champagne bucket is the Please The Palate wine of the week.
About Champagne Billecart-Salmon
Champagne Billecart-Salmon was established in 1818 after the marriage of Nicolas François Billecart and Elisabeth Salmon. They are one of the last family-owned Champagne houses. Today seventh generation Mathieu Roland-Billecart is the CEO of Champagne Billecart-Salmon. He has been the CEO since 2018, when Billecart-Salmon celebrated their 200th anniversary.
Heritage is one of the four foundations of this historical house. Another foundation is Terroir. Champagne Billecart-Salmon owns 100 hectares, manages 140 hectares, and purchases from 80 hectares, most of which are Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards. Based in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ in Champagne, France, they are surrounded by the regions of Côte des Blancs, Montagne de Reims, and Vallée de la Marne. For 93% of their grapes, they source from within 20 kilometers of their estate.
With more than 200 years of history, Know-How is a third foundation. This applies to how they made their Champagne. They cold ferment the grapes which results in good acidity for freshness and longevity. They ferment in barrels for micro-oxidation and in stainless steel. The use of malolactic fermentation is depended on the vintage.
The fourth foundation is time. Aging is critical, especially the aging of Champagne. Billecart-Salmon keeps their wines on the lees for longer than most. The Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru is aged on the lees for 4-5 years before release (much longer than most non-vintage cuvées).
Champagne Billecart-Salmon has been an advocate of sustainable practices and believe they must respect the terroir in order to produce great wines. They began doing organic tests in 2010 and ended the use of plastic inputs in 2014. Then in 2017, they received two certifications: Sustainable Viticulture in Champagne and HVE (“High Environmental Value”). In 2018 they moved exclusively to organic fertilizers and in 2019 added plant-based preparations. Champagne Billecart-Salmon has been reducing their carbon footprint by using electric cars and electric straddlers, as well as sourcing raw materials more locally. They are using less packaging, eliminated unnecessary plastic packaging. and use kraft cardboard and water-based inks. They limit water usage by measuring water consumption, collecting rainwater, and using steam to clean tanks and casks. And, they are promoting biodiversity with beehives that have been installed on the property. In 2020 Champagne Billecart-Salmon went herbicide free and in 2021 they converted 10 hectares to organic, with the goal of 100% of the vineyard to be certified organic by 2015.
Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru is made from 100% Chardonnay that comes from four Grand Cru vineyards in the Côte des Blancs: Avize, Chouilly, Cramant, Mesnil-sur-Oger. According to Mathieu Roland-Billecart, each of the vineyards adds something to the final wine. Avize adds the spice; Chouilly is the floral and refined element; Cramant provides the mineralality; Mesnil-sur-Oger adds the austerity.
The grapes were fermented in stainless steel to preserve purity and the juice underwent partial malolactic fermentation. The cuvee of the Blanc de Blancs is a blend of two different years and this particular bottle has the 2015 vintage as the base. Reserve wines make up 33% to 40%. The wine is aged on the lees for 4 to 5 years.
The wine has a light golden color with delicate bubbles. On the nose, there are notes of apples, white peaches, and almonds. On the palate, the wine is fresh, delicate, and elegant with notes of spice, brioche, and chalky minerality.
Enjoy not only with caviar or oysters, but also with sushi, seafood, or grilled fish. And, of course, this wine can be enjoyed with French fries or potato chips.
Where to purchase
The eco-friendly Champagne bucket was a holiday item but Champagne Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru is readily available. It retails for $90 and can be purchased from wine retailers across the US.