'Le Clos SaintHilaire has no right to its profound echelon. It is but a premier cru vineyard, although this is perhaps more a reflection on the inadequacies of an oversimplified cru system. More significantly, in soil — deeper and less chalky than, for instance, the Clos des Goisses at the other end of the village — and in aspect (due east, far from the soughtafter southfacing orientation), it has no claims to greatness. It is but a flat expanse beside the press house in the village. The genius of François Domi and the painstaking attention to detail of Billecart must play a dramatic role here. I could not name another wine at this level, of any variety, anywhere in the world, of which the same could be said.
Alongside Krug Clos d’Ambonnay, Billecart Le Clos SaintHilaire is the king of blanc de noirs. It was conceived as Antoine and François RolandBillecart stood on the wall of the clos late one night during harvest in 1995. With plenty of red wine in stock for rosé, they decided they could afford to put this pinot noir in the cellar for a decade to see how it looked on its own.
Le Clos SaintHilaire’s third release is a towering masterpiece, remarkable at 15 years of age not only for retaining profound mineral clarity and impeccable freshness in the midst of unfathomable complexity, but for a sheer persistence that elevates it to a level above virtually every other champagne. Its precision is as bright as daylight, bursting with sheer magnificence of pristine cherries. Flickers of gunpowder reduction announce intrigue, quickly vaporising to reveal spellbinding purity of pristine red and black fruits, the epitome of pinot noir character and refinement. Then its light begins to dim to a softfocus twilight of dark mystery, revealing deeper tones of plum cake, cherry liqueur, mixed spice, vanilla pod and dark chocolate. Brilliant acidity pierces its gentle calm like pinpoint starlight illuminating a soft landscape?of understated yet deeplypenetrating and mouthengulfing mineral texture.
To stand in this place and behold Le Clos SaintHilaire is a timestopping experience that will stir the depths of your soul. Its twilight won’t fade for at least another 15 years.'
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.