Defining Excellence in Champagne
Many Champagne houses make rosé — but only one Champagne house defines it. Billecart-Salmon NV Brut Rosé is the darling of the critics and of discerning bubbly drinkers. That you can order a glass at practically every 3-Michelin-starred restaurant is one thing. That the venerable Jancis Robinson praises its “deservedly high reputation,” is another. Unquestionably one of the most popular rosé Champagnes in the world, their multi-vintage blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, hails from storied terroir and benefits from a more commanding house-style. But we think Tyson Stelzer — one the most respected Champagne experts, author of “The Champagne Guide” and writer for Wine Spectator and Decanter — said it best in his 96 point review: “If the greatness of rosé champagne is measured in the fairy-touch of delicacy and the whisper of finesse, Billecart is the greatest. Dollar-for-champagne-dollar, no other aperitif speaks with such haunting fidelity.” It took a call from one of New York City’s top sommeliers, Michael Madrigale, to secure today’s coveted 450-bottle allocation. From the pristine cellars of this 200-year-old estate, direct to your cellar — do not wait on this. They will be gone in a flash.
Billecart-Salmon plays an incredibly pivotal role in the story of two titans of wine — given this story, that it is highly sought-after by serious collectors, seems an understatement. In his book Reflections of a Wine Merchant, the now-legendary importer Neal Rosenthal recalls the time in 1979 when he went on the hunt for an exclusive Champagne to offer the clients of his New York shop, and eventually found it through the notoriously mercurial importer Robert Chadderdon. All was hunky-dory between the men for a short while, and the Champagne — including the “intriguing Rosé” — was a sensation at Rosenthal’s shop. But the relationship took a nose dive after Chadderton failed to deliver a shipment, and a string of personal snubs between both men — and Rosenthal’s diamond in the rough was about to slip away. So, he made one last futile attempt to retain his precious Billecart-Salmon: He went to Mareuil-sur-Aÿ to plead with the proprietor face-to-face.
That Neal Rosenthal believed Billecart-Salmon was essential to his survival, and therefore merited a trip abroad — speaks volumes of its importance among the upper echelon of Champagne wines. On the verge of their 200th year of operation, the house is still owned and operated by the Billecart family, and still producing the exquisite bubblies that seduced, then drove a wedge between, two of the most famous figures in U.S. wine importing. And it is just as beguiling today as it was when Rosenthal and Chadderton first discovered its brilliance 40 years ago.