On first pour this is almost unbelievably tightly coiled – but you can feel the power and precision beneath, just raring to get out of the gate. The nose gradually starts to reveal itself with aromas of biscuit, freshly churned butter, lime zest, greengage and honey all wrapped up in a sea breeze. The texture is phenomenal, with an incredibly fine yet persistent mousse. Pinot Noir (60% of the blend) provides breadth and depth, but this isn’t overly weighty. The vintage’s trademark acidity is present and correct, almost electric, yet wonderfully balanced by the sheer concentration here. There’s still so much more for this wine to give, with a core of crisp citrus and saline minerality that drives the long finish. This is a true thoroughbred from a vintage of remarkable pedigree.
FINE+RARE (April 2021)Drink 2021-2032
The 2002 Cuvée Nicolas François Billecart is outrageously beautiful. The ripeness of the Chardonnay is front and center in a Champagne that delivers the goods, big-time. An infusion of apricot, orange peel, crème brûlée, chamomile, hazelnut and honey give the 2002 its racy, exotic personality. I enjoy it most with bottle age, but the 2002 is undeniably beautiful right now. The 2002 is a stunning NFB. The blend is 60% Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and the Vallée de la Marne and 40% Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs, done partially in oak (20%). Dosage is 4 grams per liter.
Antonio Galloni, Vinous (August 2020)Score: 96/100Drink 2020-2030
Very impressive depth and detail here. The freshness is staggering. Citrus and grilled-hazelnut aromas lead to a palate that has a very concentrated, slightly creamy and taut feel. Super long and dense with lemon curd, white peaches and a toasty build to the finish. Superb! Drink or hold.
James Suckling (September 2019)Score: 98/100
The 2002 Brut Cuvée Nicolas François was disgorged in January 2015 with four grams per liter dosage, and it's showing superbly, wafting from the glass with a complex bouquet that mingles confit citrus, peach and dried papaya with nuances of iodine, brioche and honeycomb. On the palate, it's full-bodied, broad and vinous, with a rich and layered core that's underpinned by serious structure and tension, concluding with a long and precise finish. This is one of the finest wines Billecart has released in the last decade, and it is well worth seeking out.
William Kelley, Wine Advocate (August 2019)Score: 97/100Drink 2018-2038
Their prestige Brut which seems to work best if it's a 60:40 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Matthieu Billecart wants to keep some back. Quite evolved but still with that tension. Notably pungent. Very brioche and tight and gently sparkling. Very gently unwinding. Long and neat but definitely not austere. (The 1996 is apparently great now.) Electrically reverberant.
Jancis Robinson MW (May 2019)Score: 18.5/20Drink 2012-2027
Disgorged in April 2016, after 13 years on the lees in bottle, Billecart-Salmon's recent release of the 2002 Millesime Brut Cuvee Nicolas Francois is an amazing wine for lovers of matured, pure and spicy Champagnes. This is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir (from premier and grand crus of the Montagne de Reims and the Grande Vallee de la Marne) and 40% Chardonnay (from the Cote des Blancs), with 20% vinified in oak barrels. It opens with a deep, rich, intense, pure and chalky bouquet with ripe, yellow-fleshed stone fruits, citrus fruits and beautiful bottle maturity. This is quite mature compared to the 2002 Clos Saint-Hilaire, and this might be due to the cork, which came out of the bottle neck far too easy. This 2002 is rich but more vinous now than the bright and highly delicate 2006. The palate is pretty intense, dense and viscous, while the finish is refined and pure, with vibrant freshness and gastronomic grip. It is slightly drying, though. This is a very complex, round and intense 2002 with very fine bubbles. It should be served with poultry or turbot in a creamy sauce, as recommended by Billecart's chef de cave, Florent Nys. Tasted from lot L112A675 44251 in November 2018. There might be even better, fresher bottles than this.
Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate (December 2018)Score: 95/100
This has a super-composed nose with gently spiced pastry and bright strawberry and cherry fruits, as well as some spiced brulée custard and praline. There's a lot of deep-set complexity here. The palate has a bright, crunchy, and assertive burst of peach and lemon flavor on entry, while the pinot takes the mid-palate with fleshy white cherries and smooth phenolics that hold through to the finish with gently nutty mushroom and cherry-pip flavors to close. Great balance and power. Drink now through to 2025+. This vintage is a 60/40 split between pinot noir and chardonnay.
James Suckling (October 2016)Score: 98/100
This vintage has begun to open magnificently since its release, displaying remarkable complexity, yet at every moment clinging to impeccable elegance, coiled focus of malic acid tension and exhilarating chalk mineral texture. Delightful poise and intricate craftsmanship proclaim one of the great Billecarts of the modern era.
Decanter (February 2016)Score: 99/100