Billecart-Salmon Grande Cuvée

Grande Cuvée is no more, but one of the great champagnes of recent times has not gone quietly into the night. Its final vintage just keeps getting better, returning for yet another rousing encore this year. At a full 15 years of age, Grande Cuvée has grown into an iridescent gleam of yellow straw. Its core of white fruits of all kinds remains rock solid, supported by thick orchestral scoring of toasty complexity and reductive, flinty gunpowder. Tightly wound and enchantingly focused, it unravels in freeze-frame slow motion to reveal delicate layers of nuance, all the while tightly hugging rails of crystalline-pure acidity. It rises on the finish with outstretched magnificence, an epiphany of relentless persistence underlined by consummately fine-spun, deep-set textural presence that froths and foams with sea-salt minerality. Billecart’s resolve to redirect its top fruit to Nicolas François Billecart, at one-third of the price, is certainly noble, but Grande Cuvée will forever be missed. Farewell, old friend. $391 at Cellar d’Or.