First taste: Billecart-Salmon Clos Saint-Hilaire 2007

Coming from the picturesque 1-hectare Clos next to the Billecart-Salmon cellars in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, Le Clos Saint-Hilaire belongs to Champagne’s most monumental blanc de noirs. The 1964 planted vineyard was previously used for growing the Pinot Noir grapes needed to make Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon Rosé pink-coloured, but since 1995 it has acted as Billecart-Salmon’s R&D project for both viticulture and vinification. Sheeps graze in the walled vineyard, ploughing is done by horses and bountiful cover crop makes the plot indeed look more like a garden than a vineyards – just like François Roland-Billecart’s grandmother intended in the 1950s. 

The 2007 is the ninth iteration of Le Clos Saint-Hilaire following the 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006. Mere 4800 numbered bottles were produced on this year, more recognized for its Chardonnays. Deep peach toned colour expressive of the wine’s ripe Pinot Noir soul. The soft and amply fruity nose is lined by gentle spicy and vanilla laden notes deriving from fermentation in oak. Sweet apple pie, persimmon, peach compote, orange blossom and an underlying freshly ground coffee note. The palate brings an attractive contrast to the sweet-scented nose with its impeccable freshness, deriving both from the year’s conditions and blocking of the malolactic fermentation. The brisk acidity enhances the sensations of salinity and vibrancy, carrying the wine to a long, full-of-fruit finish. Mouth-filling, creamy and supple, there is no feeling of heaviness despite all the concetration.