The Salon Champagne, an enthralling story and an exceptional vintage.
At the beginning of the last century, Aimé Salon, native of the Champagne area, left for Paris searching to make fortune in the fur trade, finding that the champagne was of a rather dubious quality, he decide to make his own sparkling wine. Following the counsel of his brother in law, an oenologist, he bought several lots in Mesnil-sur-Oger, which by their exposure and geological characteristics, makes them the best land plots of the côte de blanc area. The soil being extremely chalky and the land plots situated on the middle of the hillside.
Aimé Salon, a fine gourmet, as well as leading an unconventional life style, could not be happy with just producing a common champagne as others did. He decided that his wine would be created without blending different varieties of grapes. He created the first Blanc de Blanc champagne in 1904, in other words 100% Chardonnay. In his quest for absolute quality, he decided he would produce his wines only with the exceptional vintage years.
A rare wine
Henceforth, in more than a century, only 37 vintages have been produced, that is one every three to four years. The 1943 vintage is certainly the most symbolic one, being Aimé Salons last harvest, before his demise that same year.
Nevertheless, following his death, things have hardly changed. After having belonged to the Pernod Ricard group. The Salon property was bought by Laurent-Perrier in 1988. Michel Depond, the president and Michel Fauconnier, the cellar master of the Laurent Perrier group, are the key men of the Salon estate, as well as the sister estate of the Delamotte champagne, since 1989.
The grape is harvested and pressed at Mesnil-sur-Oger, however the first fermentation is carried out in the Laurent-Perrier establishment, located at Tours-sur-Marne. Following that, the wine returns to the Salon cellars, in order to mature slowly.
For in the Salon establishment, they allow time to have time, even if between the harvest and the commercialization of a vintage, it may take up to ten years, there are no rules, only one, quality.
Simply, the estate follows a reasoned culture process, avoiding wooden barrels and the addition of yeasts in order to insure that the all the aroma proceeds from the grape variety. The champagne is only commercialized when it appears to have reached its optimum maturity; the bottles are disgorged only when they have been ordered, thus ensuring that the wine keeps all its aromas the longest time possible.
The Salon champagne is considered as one of the best in the world. You will only find it on the finest starred tables or the best delicatessen boutiques.
What has made the success of the Salon champagne is its quality. The vintages are selected with precision in order to produce not a simple sparkling wine, but an exceptional Grand Crus.
The 2002 vintage
This new vintage is the first one of the XXIst century. This 2002 vintage was born following a conjunction of extremely good conditions, in order to produce an excellent vintage, I quote: “In the Champagne region and in particular the Mesnil-sur-Oger area, the alternation between cool, mild, and dry weather on that year is to be particularly noted. There where no terrible periods of frost, no ravaging rain fall, virtually no hailstorms. The vines were extremely healthy. The pollen count during the flowering period predicted almost an over-abundant harvest and the grape bunches where getting too heavy! Quality might not be there? The knowledgeable wine growers, lightened their vines, the big summer season arrived putting all this back on tracks, beautiful warm days concentrates the grape hence making them ideal. The harvest starts at mid-September, the 16th at Mesnil-sur-Oger, under a brilliant blue sky and a cold nip. The harvested Chardonnay in exact quantities reveals itself as being rich and powerful, each grape keeping the memory of a climate.” (Issued from a press release by Champagne Salon, March 2014)
This vintage, considered as one of the best ever produced, has many a year in front of him. This “adolescent” will refine and exalt itself with the passing of time.
It is complex to the nose, with notes of orange blossom, honey, candied citrus fruit and warm brioche. The taste is long to finish, refined and extremely elegant.
It should marry very well with caviar from Aquitaine, an Iberian cured ham, or even with a scallop Carpaccio or a white truffle risotto. Enough to wake up your taste buds!