Nothing is out of place - 2000 Billecart-Salmon Nicolas Francois

Posted by Ian McFadden

"Models of Class and Complexity"
-Peter Liem
2000 Billecart-Salmon Nicolas François

"Nothing is out of place in this beautifully delineated, precise wine" -Antonio Galloni

If Billecart's rosé is arguably the estate's most famous wine, one of those iconic overperformers embraced by both society and academia (from the debutante to the intellectual), a recent comprehensive tasting of Billecart-Salmon at the store revealed a number of surprises.

While the rosé dazzled, at the very top of the list for just about everyone at the tasting was the 2000 Nicolas François. In the realm of sub-$100 vintage Champagne, there are few equals.

This wine is a stunner.

First produced in 1955, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the estate, the wine has an impressive track record. Sit down with any scholar of Champagne and they'll wax poetic when mention is made of the 59 and 61 Nicolas François - even today these wines are supposed to be in top form.

A blend of 60 percent Pinot Noir and 40 percent Chardonnay, the Nicolas François is not shy. There's an obvious intensity to the wine and an undeniable palate presence.

Yet, what is just ravishing is the detail, the freshness, the fine-ness of the mid-palate. There is a superb sense of balance, a spine of bright acidity that is this wine's calling card.

As Galloni says: "NOTHING is out of place."

In the slightly riper and richer 2000 vintage, the wine shows round pear fruit that's dusted with sweet herbs and gentle spicing. The ripeness of the vintage endows this Nicolas François with just a bit more palate-presence and makes the wine delicious to drink right now.

You should have no worries about holding 2000 Nicolas François for another decade. Despite the richness of 2000, finesse and verve - the hallmarks of Billecart - still shine through and promise a fascinating evolution in the cellar. The track record for aging here is almost bullet proof.

With even the most modest of NV Champagnes creeping ever-higher, it may very well be this mid-level that holds the greatest value, from a quality to price standpoint. This is fruit sourced from some of the greatest sites in Champagne - - Ambonnay, Verzenay and Äy for Pinot and Mesnil and Cramant for Chardonnay. The depth AND finesse that is far above the ubiquitous non-vintages of just about any Champagne house, yet priced far below many comparable vintage sparklers.

Taste for yourself; to order, reply to this email or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Ian McFadden
Director, Fine & Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits

Antonio Galloni: "The 2000 Brut Cuvee Nicolas Francois Billecart impresses for its sheer purity and focus. Nothing is out of place in this beautifully delineated, precise wine. Cool, minty notes add lift, yet the 2000 is rather reticent at this stage and appears to need further bottle age. Still, its textural finesse is impossible to miss."