This is an interesting Champagne, marketed on the basis that fermentation is entirely in oak barrels, something that’s very rare for larger Champagne houses. It’s made of Premier and Grand Cru Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs; Premier and Grand Cru Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims, Aÿ and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ; and Pinot Meunier from the right bank of the Vallée de la Marne. Vinification and ageing take place in oak casks at low temperature, there’s partial malolactic fermentation, around one-third reserve wines and 6 years ageing on lees.
Champagne Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous Bois NV France
£65 Lea & Sandeman and www.champagnedirect.co.uk
One third each of the main Champagne varieties, fermented in old barrels, then aged for six years on lees. 7 g/litre dosage. This is really fine and delicious. The oak – average age of 15 years – doesn’t add any flavour, but the barrel ferment of the base wine gives a real supple, elegant texture to the wine. There are lovely cherry, apple and lemon fruity notes, with some refined toastiness from the extended lees ageing. Real harmony here with lovely elegance and depth. It’s quite vinous and is full of interest. 94/100