98 points, Tyson Stelzer, The Champagne Guide 2014-2015
Some champagnes volunteer their life story within seconds of first introductions, like overworked movie trailers that leave you fully convinced you’ve seen the film. Others churn in your consciousness for days, slowly unravelling their story long after the credits have rolled. My first introduction to NFB 2002 was four months before its release, when it emerged, blinking, into the stark daylight of MareuilsurAÿ from the depths of Billecart’s cellars.?It squirmed, shocked, uncomfortable at first, then began to play an exhilarating script that held me captivated for a full half hour. As always, the greatness of Billecart is proclaimed not by impact or power, but by slowly rising complexity and profound chalk mineral presence.?A hint of struck flint reduction makes way for the icy brightness of grapefruit zest, lemon, white peach, then the warmth of figs, and later, yellow summer fruits. A decade in the cellar has set down layers of toast and nuts, even wood spice. Refreshing acidity takes time to uncoil, and minerality rises slowly, super fine, confident and taut, surging on the finish in a cascade?of chalk that lingers, undeterred, for minutes. There is nothing overt or glamorous about NFB 2002, yet its delightful poise and intricate craftsmanship clearly proclaim one of the great Billecarts of the modern era, taming the exuberance of 2002 with exacting skill.
This is a champagne with many characters and subplots to reveal, to be enjoyed slowly in the presence of the most intimate company — and ideally not until it has rested at least another decade in the darkness.
Located 150 km east of Paris, Champagne is the French wine region renowned for producing the finest, most rich and complex sparkling wines in the world. The elegance, longevity and racy acidity of these wines are attributed to the influence of the chalky soils of the region and the cool, marginal continental climate. The region spans an area of 35,000 ha and has 4 main growing areas, each favouring one of the three noble Champagne varieties; Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. Champagne has a vineyard quality hierarchy based on the soils, aspect and overall quality of the grapes. Like Burgundy, these quality designations are allocated to the vineyards of the village. Of the 319 villages of Champagne, 17 have Grand Cru status and 44 villages are designated Premier Cru. All Champagne is produced by Traditional Method. The vast majority of Champagne is a blend of the three varieties and may also be a blend of several vintages producing the popular Non Vintage (NV) house styles. Top quality blends from exceptional years are sold as Vintage (Millésime) Champagne.