By Paul Green – Head Sommelier Barbecoa
Let’s be honest… who doesn’t love Champagne? Not many in the restaurant world, from my experience. So when an offer comes in to visit one of the region’s most historic houses, Billecart-Salmon, it wasn’t difficult to find a team of willing participants from Barbecoa and Jamie’s Italian Threadneedle Street.
Two days tasting in this most famous of France’s wine regions was a brilliant insight into the efforts that go into producing a great bottle of fizz. At Billecart-Salmon, they believe that Champagne is first and foremost a great bottle of wine. And to produce this, you need to carefully deliver the finest grapes from the vineyard all the way to the glass. Every effort is made to protect their quality and what you end up with is beautifully concentrated fruit, elegant flavours and a wine of real substance.
Billecart-Salmon, a long-time favourite of Jamie’s, is still family owned and we were fortunate to be greeted at the house by seventh generation Francois Roland-Billecart who met us carrying a signed copy of one of Jamie’s books. We knew we were in safe hands as we sat through a wonderful dinner, paired beautifully with old and new bottles from the cellar.
We returned to London, a little wiser and a little wearier, but with great memories from a truly brilliant producer – one who cares deeply about what pops out into your glass.