“In the 1950s my grandmother set aside this park-like space next to our house in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ with vines, flowers and fruit trees, for our enjoyment. Realizing this outstanding terroir’s potential, my family decided to plant the first Pinot Noir vines here in 1964. We tried using the Pinot Noir to make white wine in small Burgundy barrels: an outstanding champagne was about to be born. After several years of painstakingly tending the vines, the 1995 harvest, the first year of this unique cuvée, was remarkable. We called it Le Clos Saint-Hilaire after the patron saint of the church in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. No more than 3,500 to 7,500 bottles are produced each year and each is individually numbered.”

97 points Decanter

Clos St-Hilaire is the walled 1ha vineyard behind the founders’ house in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, where the tuffeau soil was planted in 1964 to Pinot Noir. This sustainably farmed vineyard is ploughed by horses, and sheep graze here after harvest. The wine is 100% vinified in the house’s best old oak casks and aged for 15 years on its lees with no dosage. Made only in exceptional vintages, the 1999 follows on from the 1995, 1996 and 1998, and yields were tiny – just 6,750 bottles in 1999, all individually numbered. It has a very overt nose of the Clos’ characteristic old-rose scent, along with orange blossom, ripe nectarine, toasted almonds and honeyed apricots. It’s intense and concentrated on the palate, showing mature sous bois, nougat and spiced apple compote alongside balancing acidity. Mathieu Roland-Billecart says the upcoming 2002 release, which will be disgorged at the end of June 2018 and on the market in early 2019, is even more ‘super-charged’ than the 1999. A great match for truffles. (TG)   (5/2018)

96 points Vinous

Billecart’s 1999 Le Clos Saint-Hilaire is exotic and beguiling. Constantly changing in the glass, the 1999 offers exquisite aromatics, silky and a real sense of underlying phenolic structure. Crushed rose petals, licorice, smoke, game and tobacco add nuance as the wine opens up. With time in the glass, the personality of these Pinot vines becomes more and more expressive. The 1999 was bottled with no dosage, but that would be impossible to ascertain in a blind tasting. (AG)   (7/2015)

• 6 – 750 ml 1999 Billecart-Salmon Le Clos Saint-Hilaire in Original Wooden Case

Donated by:   Billecart-Salmon, Verity Wine Partners of PA