With the arrival of BrooklynBabyGirl2, BrooklynGuy has a lot to celebrate this New Year’s. He took time out to share this last-minute Champagne recommendation for your 2009 celebration. When it comes to value and quality in Champagne, no one beats BrooklynGuy.
1999 Henri Billiot Brut, $56, Terry Theise Selections / Michael Skurnik Imports.
Billiot’s wines are really a treat. Laetitia Billiot (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 Pinot Noir from a 15 + year old solera to the blend to create the rosé, and it’s deeply complex and absolutely delicious. Cuvée Laetitia is the house’s top wine, along with the newer and in my opinion, less successful Cuvée Julie. Laetitia is also a solera wine and is, interestingly, mostly Chardonnay.
I think that when buying Billiot’s wines, it’s worth it to spend a couple more bucks to buy the 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 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.
Congratulations, BrooklynGuy, and thanks for sharing!