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Salon Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs 1999 Champagne 75cl
|Salon Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs 1999 - 75cl||Salon Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs 1999 - 75cl||£449.95|
The grapes used in the Salon blend come from ten hectares and twenty plots and the concentratedly fruity style of the House derives from their super-concentrated yield of very old vines. Purchased by Laurent-Perrier in 1989, today they share a Cellar Master and vineyard with next-door neighbour and sister company, Champagne Delamotte. Salon is a true rarity, with a maximum annual production of 60,000 bottles that invariably disappear into the cellars of collectors. With only ten employees (six in the cellar and four in the office) and riddling performed by hand, attention to detail is the key to Salon's prowess.
Cellar Master: Michel Fauconnet
Winery Location: Le Mesnil-sur-Oger | Champagne, France
Champagne Region: Côte des Blancs
Annual Production (bottles): 60,000
Weather: The 1999 season was one of the warmest in the 20th century and wasn't without complications along the way. A fine early spring was followed by a period of stormy weather and hails. In the early summer months of June and July there were some spells of rain, but impressive heat in the weeks leading up to the harvest produced wines with a high alcohol content and low acidity, resulting in a complex and lively vintage.
Vineyards: 100% Grand Cru | Le Mesnil-sur-Oger
Grape Varieties: 100% Chardonnay
Ageing: 10 years on the lees
Dosage: 7 g/l
Drink: Now to 2028
Tasting Note: Pale yellow, with a lively nose of citrus and grapefruits. The beady texture on the mid-palate combines with brioche, white fleshy fruits like pear and lemon to create a rounded flavour that develops right through until the finish. A stunning reflection of the 1999 vintage, Salon have managed to capture the opulence of this interesting harvest.
Gentle first impression, almost a touch floral – lavender? herbal? – spicy and biscuity too. Broader than the 2002 and less intense, not as concentrated on the mid palate but a little broader, less tightly wound, as you would expect. Still vey finely balanced and creamily textured. Amazingly long finish. (JH)”
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Salon is one of the most intriguing and mysterious names in Champagne. It is also a most unusual wine: there is only one cuvée, it is produced only in exceptional years (there were only 37 releases in the entirety of the 20th century), it is made only from Chardonnay and it is sourced only from vineyards of the famous Grand Cru, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. It is a rare and luxurious champagne, and new releases are always keenly anticipated with an average of only 60,000 bottles produced each vintage.
Early in the 20th century, Eugène-Aimé Salon, a wealthy businessman working in the fur trade in Paris, returned to his family’s roots in Champagne. His vision was to make a champagne like no other and purely from Chardonnay grapes grown in Le Mesnil. Arguably, this was the first ever ‘Blanc de Blancs’ champagne. Imagining a wine purely for his own pleasure, it began life as a hobby and he only made tiny quantities to consume with friends and family. After testing the waters with the 1905 vintage, Salon went full steam ahead in 1911, when Eugène bought a one-hectare vineyard in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and officially created the Champagne house. He built a large mansion to throw lavish parties, but in fact the house was barely used, as Eugène’s focus remained firmly on his profitable fur business and his political career in Paris.
For his ‘hobby’ Eugène had been advised by his brother-in-law, a local winemaker, that the grapes from Le Mesnil were very high in acidity which resulted in powerful, very linear wines with great ageability. The grapes in Le Mesnil were Chardonnay, which at the time were considered less important than Pinot Noir in the production of Champagne. The common belief was that Chardonnay alone did not have enough body and structure to make well-balanced and high-quality champagnes. But, believing the wines could open up and impress if given enough time to develop, Eugène decided to let them age for a minimum of 10 years. His 1911 ‘Grand Vin Nature du Mesnil’ thus became the very first Blanc de Blancs champagne.
The house was headed by Eugène Aimé Salon until his death in 1943, when it passed to his sister Annie and nephew Marcel-Guillaume, who cared little for the wine business. They struggled along for the next 20 years and left the Chef de Cave to do his own thing. In 1963, the family sold the company to Dubonet-Cinzano, who showed little interest in developing the Champagne brand.
Things changed for the better in 1988, when Laurent-Perrier purchased Salon. Today, Salon exports 95% of its production. It was not imported into the United States until 1983. Remarking on the high price tag, the New York Times wrote: “Salon is likely to remain mostly invisible to the public; its appeal would seem to lie with those who fancy stratosphere-level wines.”
Didier Depond was appointed President of Salon in 1997 and remains director today.