We tasted: Billecart-Salmon “Sous Bois”

tasting during last springtime, Madrid

Winner of the “Champagne of the Millennium” award (blind tasting of 150 finest cuvées of the century organized by Richard Juhlin, Stockholm 1999) with the cuvée Nicolas-François Billecart millésime 1959 (the N-F Billecart millésime 1961 cuvée winning the 2nd position), Billecart-Salmon is one of the top champagne producers. Funded in 1818, in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ after the marriage of Nicolas François Billecart and Elisabeth Salmon and receiving the important support from Louis Salmon, Elisabeth’s brother, the house is still one of the few remaining family run businesses in Champagne (now at the 7th generation). Owning 100 hectares and collecting grapes from another 200 hectares (40 crus), Champagne Billecart-Salmon has a annual production of 2 million bottles. Using innovative methods – their base wines go through a cold settling at 8ºC and a very cold fermentation just under 13ºC taking between three weeks and a month (a longer time frame than other producers), low/minimal dosage, their own cultured yeast, selective malolactic fermentation – and high respect for the vines, Billecart-Salmon champagnes are very appreciated around the world. Their philosophy of using higher proportions of Pinot Meunier (45% in the Brut Reserve cuvée, 30% in Brut Rosé) also gave good results. About their Rosé we will talk later, after tasting “Elisabeth Salmon” Brut Rosé 2007, so stay tunned! Let’s focus now on Brut “Sous Bois”, a champagne vinified in oak barrels and kept 2 years on lies resulting in a powerful complexity. Dominant notes of red apple, raspberry, red orange, leather, biscuits, hints of vanilla and fresh bread on the nose; full bodied with caramel, dried fruits, nutty and creamy elements (brioche, toffee) on the palate. Lingering finish. We greatly enjoyed this cuvée now, but it would look extremely interesting to taste it after another 10 years in the cellar.

CLB score


*take a look at our CLB scoring

Type of champagneBrut
Grapes30 % Pinot Noir, 30 % Chardonnay, 40 % Pinot Meunier (1/3 reserve wines)
Agedsur lies 2 years
Sizemagnum (150cl)
Number of bottles500
Price range (euro)200-225
Chef de CavesFrançois Domi
Other considerentsfermented and aged briefly in oak barrels

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