Champagne, ‘Cuvee Laetitia’, Henri Billiot

Cépages: 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay
Assemblage: Chardonnay reserve wines from 1983-2012, Pinot Noir from 2013
Vineyard/Village: Ambonnay Grand Cru
Malo: No
Elevage: enameled tanks
En Tirage Aging: 48 months
Montagne de Reims
Blend- Champagne
Import Partner:
Terry Theise

Tasting Notes

The back-story: This was always a profound, sometimes inscrutable but reliably significant Champagne, a tête-de-cuvée consisting of the best lots from every vintage. There were two of these “soleras,” the first one started in 1967, and when that one was gone, another one that began in 1983. It was a leviathan of Champagne when it was on form, as it was for many years. Then about 3-4 years ago it started to show a weird cidery or pear-drop flavor that annoyed me, yet wasn’t annoying (or perhaps even discernible) to other tasters. Still, I fussed at Laetitia, and learned that the cuvée had historically been aged in many small tanks, but for some reason her father—on the eve of his retiring—decided to blend them into two large tanks. Alas, one of the component tanks was the source of the flaw, and now it was there to stay. Laetitia set about to be rid of this wine, and to create a renewed and “fresher” version of her namesake wine, “without this apple taste.” The youngest vintage (30%) is still 2013, newly disg 10.2016, and still majority CH; the wine’s more open and accessible than last year, showing wet straw and tropical fruit and doughy Chardonnay richness; a nice thread of chalk runs through it. The “apple” thing (more like pear-drop) is fading fast but not entirely erased.—Terry Theise  

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Press & Reviews


The flagship Multi Vintage Brut Cuvee Laetitia comes across as delicate and floral in this version. Pears, white peaches, flowers and spices are some of the nuances that are woven into a fabric of notable class. Layers of sweet perfumed fruit run through the understated finish. The flagship Cuvee Laetitia is a blend of vintages going back to 1983. My sense is that there is a fair amount of younger vintages here given the brightness of the wine. Dosage is 8 grams per liter. Disgorged June 2011. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2020.


Ripe flavors of candied cherry and currant, quince paste and honey are layered with subtle notes of blood orange, vanilla and almond in this exuberant Champagne, which shows good balance and an appealing juiciness that pushes through to the long, mouthwatering finish. Disgorged November 2010. Drink now through 2017. –AN


Bright yellow. A wild, pungent bouquet evokes dried pear, beeswax, anise and iodine, with floral and spice notes gaining strength with air. Juicy, penetrating orchard fruit and orange marmalade flavors show impressive depth and power and are given spine by tangy minerality. Very rich and complex but lively Champagne with serious finishing thrust and lingering spiciness.


(disgorged in February, 2008; this contains 20 some-odd vintages from 1983 forward
and the predominant variety is chardonnay). This is remarkably fresh for it to have such a large proportion of aged
stock in it and while the nose is mature, there are absolutely no oxidative elements in it. In fact, I deliberately revisited this 24
hours after first opening it to see how the nose had evolved and I can report that there was very little discernable evolution. As
I say, while fully mature, the mildly yeasty nose displays notes of baked apple, roasted nut and a dried rose petal nuance that
also characterizes the rich, full and utterly delicious flavors that are also fresh and vibrant with plenty of energy and finishing
punch. Often Champagnes with high percentages of reserves in them lack the same effervescence but that is certainly not the
case here. This is a lovely effort that could be drunk now with pleasure or held for years to come. 93/now+

Champagne Guide

Although this was bottled in 2008, Serge Billiot says that the most recent vintage contained here is 2005, blended with about 19 or 20 different vintages dating back to 1983. It’s creamy and subtly complex, unfolding in an ample array of flavors ranging from red cherry and fresh apple to ginger and pink grapefruit. While there’s a lot of depth on the palate, this stays light on its feet, feeling vigorous and deftly poised, and the long, fragrant flavors show an expressive nuance and detail. This cuvée shows best when it complements its rich complexity with a lively energy, and this edition seems to strike an ideal balance of each. Last tasted: 3/10