The Friday Bubble – Review of Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Louis 2012 Bottle and Magnum

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Today on The Friday Bubble with Nick Baker and Essi Avellan MW, we compare the new release of Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Louis 2012 Blanc de Blancs in bottle and magnum.

Champagne Billecart-Salmon was founded with the marriage of Nicolas-François Billecart and Elisabeth Salmon in 1818. Situated in the village of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, near Epernay. Champagne Billecart-Salmon is still a family-run organisation with seventh generation Mathieu Roland-Billecart today overseeing business.

Billecart-Salmon has 100 hectares of their own vineyards and 200 hectares of managed vineyards from 40 crus mostly within 20 kms of the winery. In 2017 they attained certification High Environmental Value and from 2020 are herbicide free and currently 10 ha are in organic conversion.

Billecart-Salmon’s pure-Chardonnay vintage is a blend of Grand Cru vineyards of the Côte des Blancs. Cramant and Chouilly for its finess, Avize for its power and Mesnil-sur-Oger for its structure and longevity. Named in honour of the brother of Elisabeth Salmon, who founded the house in 1818 with her husband Nicolas Francois.

The 2012 weather has been hallmarked by many as very challenging but has created some stunning Champagne. Relatively low yields due to various weather conditions throughout the year. The winter months brought some frosts and hail which damaged the early stages of bud burst. August and September were very warm and this helped rescue and give the grapes a stunning maturity.

The grapes are all from the Grand Cru villages of the Côte des Blancs, where the hills slope gently towards the sun and the vines root down into the chalk that is not far from the surface. This gives the grapes a unique mineral character that you don’t see anywhere else in Champagne.

One third of the Chardonnay juice is fermented in barrels, which adds a slight spice to the aromas and oak texture to the palate and because they are older barrels, the impact of oak on the finished champagne is very subtle.

Nick Baker 18+/20 April 2024
“Cuvee Louis 2012 Blanc de Blancs all grapes from Grand Cru rated villages with partial oak barrel fermentation. An impressive aromatic, that rich lemony sherbet on entry, overlays a layer of buttery shortbread that has been lightly toasted. This has the 2012 forward fruit charm, unctuous fruit, though restrained with hints of tropical guava. Its texture is a delight, wrapping round the palate, bright lemon, grapefruit, charred pineapple, it has richness on the palate, minerality and chalky charm. This is the best balance young Louis I have tasted.”

Antonio Galloni 97/100 March 2024
“The 2012 Brut Blancs de Blancs Louis Salmon is a gorgeous Champagne. Lemon confit, spice, baked apple tart, chamomile and dried flowers are all nicely amplified. The 2012 was done 75% in tank and 25% in oak, with most of the lots undergoing malolactic fermentation. There’s a feeling of reserve in the 2012 that is quite appealing. This edition is terrific, but it also needs time to be at its best. I would be in no rush to open this. Low yields and a year beset by frost, hail, heavy rain, mildew and sunburn at various times produced a rich Champagne. The blend of sites in Mesnil-sur-Oger, Chouilly, Cramant and Oiry works so well. Dosage is 3.9 grams per liter. Disgorged: first trimester 2023.”

This release marks the 17th release over 40 years history. Recent vintages include 2007, 2008 and 2009.