New: Champagne Salon Blanc de Blancs 2012


Bottles of Salon Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs 2012 will be available in late January 2022, with magnums to follow later in the year

 

 

 

The 2012 vintage is the 43rd Salon to be released from this tiny house in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger

 

 

 

Salon is always made from Chardonnay grapes grown in the one hectare plot at the back of the Maison, “The Salon Garden” and 19 other small plots around the village of Mesnil-sur-Oger

 

 

 

The critics have already claimed that the 2012, after the 2008, may well be the finest Salon produced this millennium

 

 

 

President of Salon, Didier Depond

In 2014, Salon’s president Didier Depond said that a 2012 from Salon would not be released. A climatically challenging vintage, 2012 was a year in which Pinot Noir reined supreme, and was thus not a year that favoured the all-Chardonnay house of Salon. Depond was quoted at the time as saying, “Since 2008, there has been no genuinely great vintage in Champagne.”

However, upon producing a champagne that was instantly both rewarding and generous, Depond changed his mind and with good reason too: the critics have already claimed that Champagne Salon Blanc de Blancs 2012, after the 2008, may well be the finest Salon produced this millennium. The House commented: “Mother Nature likes to play tricks. Over in the vats, a miracle was taking place, a grand vin was emerging, with the hint of a smile – ‘gotcha!’ The vintage had everything all along: sugars, fine acidity, magnificent potential… the only thing left to do now, was wait. And see the vignerons smile once more.”

Produced on average only three times per decade, the 2012 vintage is the 43rd Salon to be released from this tiny house in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Champagne’s finest and rarest Blanc de Blancs, Salon is the legacy of Eugène-Aimé Salon who devoted his life to creating the perfect pure-Chardonnay champagne setting up the Maison in 1911. Salon is always made from Chardonnay grapes grown in a one hectare plot at the back of the Maison, “The Salon Garden” and 19 other plots on the deep chalk soils of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger.

The 2012 weather has been hallmarked by many as very challenging but has created some stunning champagnes across the region. The winter months brought some frosts and hail which damaged the early stages of bud burst, resulting in relatively low yields. However, a very warm August and September helped rescue the vintage and gave the grapes a stunning maturity. Picking started on 17th September.

Champagne Salon Blanc de Blancs 2012 is Chardonnay in its purest form, made in the reductive style – so no oak. This vintage bears all the hallmarks of a classic Salon; rich expressive fruit typical of the 2012 vintage and the unmistakeable chalky structure, the elegance belying much power beneath. Bottles are available from late January 2022 and magnums will follow later in the year.

 

What the critics say about Salon Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs 2012

Champagne Salon Blanc de Blancs 2012
The 43rd Salon. In 2014, Salon’s president Didier Depond said that a 2012 from Salon would not be released. However, upon producing a champagne that was instantly both rewarding and generous, Depond changed his mind and with good reason too: the critics have already claimed that 2012, after the 2008, may well be the finest Salon produced this millennium.

Weather: Initially mild-mannered, winter 2012 unleashed its full force in February, with freezing temperatures of minus 10, even minus 20C. Then March came in like a lamb. Tender buds were beginning to emerge, only for April to bring heavy rains with clear, and therefore glacial, nights. A cold snap during flowering did not help matters and then more rain, right up until July. August arrived at last, the hottest month in the calendar, but the first few days were rather too hot: a heatwave! The vines really had been through it all: too wet, then too dry, a paucity of grapes; what would the harvest bring? It began in Le Mesnil on 17th September.

98+/100  William Kelley | RobertParker.com  Sep 2021
“Back in 2014, Salon’s president Didier Depond was quoted in the press as saying that “since 2008, there has been no genuinely great vintage in Champagne” and that a 2012 from Salon wouldn’t be released. But the just-released 2012 Brut Blanc de Blancs Le Mesnil shows that he had good reason to change his mind, as to my palate this is, after the 2008, the finest Salon produced this millennium. Unwinding in the glass with notes of citrus oil, wet stones, freshly baked bread, white currants and oyster shell, it’s full-bodied, deep and concentrated, with a tightly wound core of fruit, racy acids and an elegant pinpoint mousse. Concluding with a long and resonant finish, this is a structured and powerful Salon that’s a lot more incisive than, for example, the 2002 at the same stage, but which also carries more muscle and substance than a leaner vintage such as 2007. For readers that have balked at the pricing of the magnum-only 2008, the 2012 isn’t far off the latter’s level in quality, and will presumably be distributed more conventionally.”
97/100  Antonio Galloni | Vinous.com  Nov 2021
“The 2012 Salon is absolutely gorgeous. It offers a beguiling mix of radiance and energy that seems to capture a little bit of elements of some of its older siblings. The expression of fruit is radiant and quite overt, but without reaching the tropical exuberance of the 2006. In shape, the 2012 recalls the mid-weight style of 2007 with the freshness of 2008, but not quite the youthful austerity of that wine. If that sounds like an appealing combination, well it is. The 2012 Salon is all harmony and class.”
93→95/100  Essi Avellan MW | EssiAvellan.com  July 2021
“Pinot Noir was the king of this climatically challenging vintage. Thus early on Salon wasn’t promising us a vintage. However, they changed their mind having come up with something instantly rewarding and generous. Bright, sweetly fruity nose on the tropical side with lemon, jasmine and orange blossom. The palate has volume yet a firm backbone of brisk acidity. The chalky mineral notions come forward on the long, intense and dry finish.”

 

The Previous Vintage: Salon Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs 2008

Champagne Salon Blanc de Blancs 2008
The 42nd Salon. Tasting the vins clairs in early 2009, Président Didier Depond and Chef de Cave Michel Fauconnet were immediately struck by their profile, comparable in stature to the legendary Salon 1982, Salon 1966 and Salon 1928. They decided almost instantly to bottle the entire production in magnums, the ideal format to confer the slow, delicate élevage appropriate to the vintage, and their absolute commitment to quality. This would result in just 8,000 magnums being produced and only available to purchase as part of the Champagne Salon Le Mesnil Oenotheque Case.

Weather: After a mild winter, rainy spring and a positively glacial start to June, flowering was understandably reticent. But the vine is hardy and the skies proved favourable to the growers. June settled into its usual summer spirit and the fruit set looked promising: high quality grapes, even if the crop would be small. Superb conditions in August saw the harvest date confirmed, only for a dull early September to trigger last-minute angst. The chardonnays took their time, but prospered nonetheless, gaining in power right up until 17th September, when Salon’s parcels in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger were finally harvested.

19/20  Jancis Robinson MW | JancisRobinson.com  June 2019
“Magnum. Disgorged (‘Edition’) January 2019. Just 8,000 magnums and no bottles produced. (Usually 60,000 bottles!) Didier Depond tasted the grapes with Chef de Cave Michel Fauconnet. Both of them decided that only magnums should be made because the concentration is so great. Like 1982. Dosage 6.2 g/l. Didier Depond calls 2008 ‘the dream vintage’. Picked from 17 September.
Big bubbles. Strong hedgerow aromas. Very ‘cool’ impression. Very intense and persistent. Complex and lacy. Filigree texture. Really quite open for a magnum – particularly for Salon. Wonderful length. Certainly a magical wine, likely to feed a frenzy among (well-heeled) investors.”
100/100  Antonio Galloni | Vinous.com  July 2019
“The 2008 Salon is simply extraordinary. Sadly, there will only be 8,000 magnums for the world, as President Didier Depond took the unusual and dramatic decision to bottle the entire 2008 harvest in magnum only, which is a huge decrease over the typical production (when Salon is made) of closer to 60,000 bottles. In the glass, the 2008 is simply extraordinary. Soft and silky, with breathtaking finesse, the 2008 dazzles with a stunning interplay of bright Chardonnay fruit, soaring perfume and crystalline precision. A kaleidoscope of aromas, flavors and textures captivates all the senses. The 2008 remains young and austere, but like so many wines in this great vintage, Salon has an extra dimension of textural depth that keeps it from being austere. It is quite simply one of the most magnificent Champagnes I have ever tasted. The 8,000 magnums will be sold in a special wooden case with 2 bottles each of 2007, 2006 and 2002. Dosage is 6 grams per liter. Disgorged: January, 2019.”
100/100  William Kelley | RobertParker.com  Mar 2021
“Disgorged in January 2019 with six grams per liter dosage, Salon’s 2008 Brut Blanc de Blancs Le Mesnil is a striking wine, unwinding in the glass with scents of citrus oil, fresh bread, crisp green apple, white flowers, smoke and oyster shell. Full-bodied, layered and incisive, it’s deep and concentrated, with a tightly coiled core of fruit that’s underpinned by a racy spine of acidity. Seamless and unerringly precise, it concludes with a long and penetratingly mineral finish. Immense though its potential for aging is, its intensity and balance make it pleasurable as well as persuasive, even today. Given the eye-watering price of this magnum-only release, I was determined to hold the wine to the highest possible standards, but it surpasses even the prodigious 1996 and surely ranks as the finest Salon since at least the 1970s. In short, this is a Blanc de Blancs that admits no argument.”

 

Past Vintages of Salon

For a full breakdown of all 43 vintages of Salon ever produced, see Champagne Salon: The 43 Vintages from 1905-2012.