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Despite the fact that nearly all wine consumers know of it and that millions of dollars are spent annually promoting it, Champagne remains unappreciated. Many still only think of Champagne as a celebratory beverage, many more still think that any wine with bubbles is ‘champagne’.
Well, friends, I’m here to set the record straight.
(If carbonated beverages are not your thing, you should stop reading here.)
I’ll dispense with historical and technical information first: Dom Perignon did not invent Champagne nor did he ever say, ‘…I’m tasting stars’. Sparkling wines were ‘invented’ (accidentally) in southern France in the 16th century and were not commonly associated with the (place) Champagne until the early 18th century. Due to its relatively northern location, cool climate and short growing season, grapes (especially red) in Champagne struggle to ripen, thus, the resulting wines are tart and thin. The addition of sugar to the wine allows for a secondary fermentation in the bottle which leaves behind carbonation. No magic required. Few other producers were intentionally making and marketing carbonated wines at that time, so the wines of Champagne grabbed that niche as their own, positioning the wines as the choice of royalty. (The history of great wine is also the history of great marketing. Can you say Bordeaux?)
The sparkling wines of Champagne became the wines of celebration, because, well, they are pretty exuberant when opened. But exuberance need not be limited to a championship, a ship launch or New Year’s Eve. How about getting exuberant about Wednesday? Because, it’s, like, Wednesday, hump day, 2 days from the weekend! Or any other reason.
Let’s talk about this wine, however. Billecart-Salmon was created by the marriage of Nicolas François Billecart and Elisabeth Salmon in 1818. The house is still run by the family, with the sixth generation at the helm. Perhaps best known for their romantic Brut Rosé (which really is wonderful), this wine, the Brut Réserve, is different than the famous Rosé, but no less wonderful. Its full and fresh, with pear and brioche aromas. Its fully flavored yet bright and crisp. Drink at the pool or on the beach all summer long, pair it with shellfish and seafood. Treat yourself, you deserve it.