When I was younger, if I imagined what a grown-up Champagne was supposed to taste like, this new Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous Bois is what I would have conjured: filled-out in the middle, pleasantly adult force of dried fruits and toasted brioche, citrus pursed lips and a creamy foundation. What happened to the sharp Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve NV (or Billy Cart as we fondly called it) that was as sleek and mineral-acid, beautiful and effortless and (click the fingers) fierce. It is still available, but why is the extremely beautiful fruit from Mareuil-sur-Ay “under wood” as if its laser brightness needs to be contained and put under a soft-focus lens?
The weight from the oak puts it in an elusive category of Champagne to go with food. Elusive because, as much as I pray everyday to drink Champagne, with every meal, every day, this never happens enough to buy a Champagne specifically for a meal.
It will do better with some age, although, like real estate and marriage, that it is asking a NV to consider the future rather than blowing it all on a top night out or a big celebration.
Everything about Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous-Bois is absolutely correct and appropriate. Yet somehow I can’t help but shake the feeling that although the quality remains, somewhere the NV thrill has gone. Four stars out of five.