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Founded in 1818 by husband and wife Nicolas François Billecart and Elisabeth Salmon, the Billecart-Salmon House is rich with history. For nearly two hundred years, the Billecart family has been handing down the secrets to making exceptional champagne from generation to generation. The Champagne House is special for many reasons, but one notable reason is that it is one of very few to remain Family owned. The Billecart-Salmon House covers around 50 hectares, and gets its grapes from a total of 170 hectares of land. Frequently cited for the quality of its vintages, the House pays particular attention to selecting the best grapes.

Billecart has not only pulled a hat-trick of my three best wines of the year, but it has done so with two wines from the lesser 2000 vintage. This is preposterous, but taste prevails above reputation! The criterion for The Champagne Guide 2011 Rosé of the Year matches that of the Wine of the Year (the best rosé for drinking this year, at a fair price). 2000 Elisabeth is right in the zone. It has that enticingly pale Billecart salmon hue (Elisabeth Salmon is certainly the most appropriate name) and there’s a copper hint here, too. The red wine for the blend achieved its ripeness thanks to a very old, south-facing plot. Haunting notes of strawberry hull (where the stem joins the berry), toast, roast nuts and brioche define a beautifully restrained bouquet. The palate has remarkable poise, with the most subtle, elegant red fruits meeting tarte tatin, cooked fruits, warm cherries, spice, roast nuts and toast. Pinot noir and chardonnay are held in tautly balanced, 50/50 tension with pinot rising in the middle and then handing over to chardonnay’s fine minerality on the finish. The dosage is 9g/L but you’d never notice. Domi suggests foie gras and red fruit desserts. 97 points; Tyson Stelzer; The Champagne Guide

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