Wine Of The Week: Billecart-Salmon Sous Bois Champagne

An under-the-radar Champagne that appeals to discerning wine nerds.

When you wander into the Champagne aisle, the major bubbly brands tend to command attention, whether it’s those signature orange labels or Dom Perignon. But there’s one bottle that tends to especially woo wine nerds: the blush-hued and brilliantly precise Brut Rose from Billecart-Salmon. 

The house was born in 1818, when Nicolas Francois Billecart and Elisabeth Salmon celebrated their wedding by starting a small winery in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, a small village outside of Epernay. Seven generations later and their kin are still producing exquisite Champagnes out of the same buildings, complete with historic subterranean cellars that weave under the town. 

While the Brut Rose has become the house’s signature serve, consider the more curious  Sous Bois, made with Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay vinified in oak. The bubbles are bright but the undertones are rich and umami-driven, with notes of toast and wild chanterelles. 

What’s particularly interesting about the house is that while they’ve had decades to perfect each blend and dosage, they approach every vintage differently. Every bottle is the result of hundreds of little decisions, dictated by what each of their parcels need and what the weather demands.

Every winter, the winemakers and their family members gather and taste through hundreds of still wines, putting each through a rigorous tasting process to decide on the final base for the sparkling wines. Some are vetoed, some are sent back to the cellar to further age — it’s a contentious debate. But the work pays off, with each bottle in the range showing off a unique snapshot of Champagne. $110

Kate Dingwall is a WSET-trained sommelier and spirits writer. Her work has appeared in Wine Enthusiast, Eater,, and Food & Wine, and she pours wine at one of Canada’s top restaurants.