Good weather has a role in wine production

  • Marne Valley producer: Antoine Roland-Billecart manages Billecart-Salmon, one of the oldest champagne houses in the world, with his brother François

    Marne Valley producer: Antoine Roland-Billecart manages Billecart-Salmon, one of the oldest champagne houses in the world, with his brother François

There are winemaking areas on our planet where good weather patterns are the norm.

With others — Bordeaux is a good example — the climate can vary a fair amount, so it is worth paying attention to the particular vintage.

Looking back as far as 1990, only a single year rates a perfect 100 and that was 2005; 2010 and 2015 are next at 98. On the bright side, I would only classify three years as a bit dicey.

Our first from 2015 has just been unloaded and it is La Reserve D’Angludet — the second wine of Château d’Angludet in Margaux. It comes from the same 75 acres of vines.

There are no main differences in the way the vines are cultivated and the vinification methods between Angludet and Reserve d’Angludet.

The distinction between the wine which will make the Château Angludet and La Réserve d’Angludet is only done after the harvest. A series of tastings determines the final distinction.

This blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and petit verdot gives us a beautiful, intense red with garnet tints.

An expressive nose with distinctive, profound blackberry aromas and spicy notes are typical of the estate’s petit verdot.

Combined with these are toasty, subtly oaky notes that gradually emerge on swirling the glass. Creamy roundness is the predominating impression on the palate, with tannins and silky, delicate fruit that aptly reflect the quality of this terroir.

The finish is long lasting and intensely aromatic and the harmonious and elegant balance reflects an exceptional vintage. The style of this wine makes it quite enjoyable in its youth — $43.50 and well worth trying now.

Have you ever owned a bottle of wine with real money as part of the label? If you decide to buy a bottle of Orin Swift Mercury Head 2015 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, you can answer in the affirmative as one of these dimes is embedded in each bottle. I will quote from this iconic winery: “All Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon we pick is treated in the cellar as a Mercury Head candidate. Yet, year after year, a few lots from the Rutherford, St Helena and Atlas Peak AVAs always outshine the rest in terms of complexity, structure and overall quality.

“Comprised of cabernet sauvignon from the Morisoli vineyard in Rutherford, the Lewelling, Milat and Taplin vineyards in St Helena, and the prestigious Stagecoach vineyard and the nearby Edcora property on Atlas Peak, this vintage of Mercury Head brings together prized microclimates of the Napa Valley.”

The winemaker comments: “The wine opens with a nose brimming of ripe boysenberry and cassis, complemented by hints of cigar box, fir and graphite.

“Full-bodied on entry, the luscious palate is full of ripe cherry and a touch of blackberry with elegant traces of sage. It closes with a satiating finish that is long and textured, supported by ample red berries and soft, dusty tannins.”

Robert Parker rates it 95-plus, which suggests that it will improve with a little more ageing. $145.90. Our allocation is minuscule.

Francois and Antoine Billecart manage their family champagne firm founded in 1818 by the marriage of Nicolas Billecart to Elizabeth Salmon. I can say with a very clear conscience that year after year their champagnes are among a handful of the very finest produced. We have not had any stocks of their rosé for a few months. We now welcome it back and, as expected, it is one of the best. rates it 96/100 and writes about their “palate tingling with unabashed excitement”.

It is a blend of 43 per cent chardonnay with the rest being pinot noir and pinot meunier; together they offer strawberry, cherry, star anise, mandarin orange peel and honeysuckle.

This is definitely a wine for folks that appreciate the best that champagne has to offer. A bottle of Billecart Salmon Brut Reserve Rosé sells for $91.70.

We have always stocked Billecart Salmon Brut Reserve Champagne in regular bottles and they list for $59.35. For the first time we are introducing it in magnums and, as they are $121.50, I would like to make comment.

Most of us are programmed to think that bigger sizes should reflect a savings and, although certainly true for Rice Krispies or Tide, it is not when fine wines are concerned.

Bigger bottles are more expensive to produce and it is the general belief that bigger bottles help wines age even more towards perfection.

Decanter magazine recently awarded this 40 per cent pinot meunier, 30 per cent pinot noir and 30 per cent chardonnay blend an outstanding 95/100. This blend of predominately red grapes is typical of most regular brut champagne and it has not changed much over the past 50 years at Billecart Salmon.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). Visit

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Published Apr 13, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 12, 2018 at 11:41 pm)

Good weather has a role in wine production

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