Friday, January 02, 2009

Friday Night Bubbles

Most of this post already appeared on Jeremy Parzon's Do Bianchi. Sorry to repeat, but whaddaya want from me?!? I have a five-day old and a 2 year old. I'm like a walking dead man.

1999 Henri Billiot Brut, $56, Terry Theise Selections / Michael Skurnik Imports. Billiot's wines are really a treat. Laetitia (Henri's granddaughter, I believe) is in charge now, and there are still fewer than 4,000 cases per year of the 5 wines Billiot makes. Located in the Grand Cru village of Ambonnay in the Montagne de Reims, Billiot's wines are comprised mostly of Pinot Noir, and the fruit is rich and joyous .The basic non-vintage Brut is typically excellent, although not cheap at almost $50. The rosé is one of the better ones I know of that is not made in the saignée method. Billiot adds still 15+ year old solera Pinot Noir to the blend to create the rosé, and it's absolutely complex and delicious. Cuvée Laetitia is the house's top wine (along with the newer and in my opinion, less successful Cuvée Julie), also a solera wine, and is oddly, mostly Chardonnay.

Billiot adds little or no dosage, achieving sufficient ripeness on the vine to do without. These are wines, like most good Champagnes, that really show better if you wait a while after disgorgement to open them. The bottle we drank was disgorged in October of 2007, and I'm glad we gave it a year. I've had the NV Brut earlier in it's post-disgorgement life and it was a bit disjointed, the fruit in particular just fell off at the end.

I think that when buying Billiot's wines, it's worth it to spend a couple more bucks to buy Billiot's vintage wines as opposed to the basic NV Brut. This one, the 1999, is the wine we opened as an aperitif with friends before Christmas dinner, the night before our daughter was born. It exceeded expectations - so graceful and controlled, such exuberant fruit, so rich and broad, yet with refined elegance. the texture is lush and fine, there is good acidity, and the finish really lingers with a chalk-infused fruit fragrance. This wine has a great inner core of energetic fruit, and it's just delicious. It will probably continue to improve with a few more years in a cold cellar. You might not be able to find the '99 on shelves now, but the 2002 is the new release and it may well surpass the '99 once it is ready to drink, in about 5-8 years.


Do Bianchi said...

Thanks again, BrooklynGuy, for letting me use this on my blog. Tracie B and I are looking forward to finding and trying the vintage Billiot (we've only ever tasted the entry-level NV). Happy new year to you and yours!

Vinogirl said...

Great choice. I have had this and it is truly worthy of your wonderful post, as usual. Did not know about the 15+ Pinot addition however...thanks for the info.