30th Oct 2023
30th Oct 2023
Champagne Salon is, by design, never less than an extraordinary experience. Always 100% Chardonnay, it only comes from the grand cru village of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Since the house was founded in 1911, the backbone of Salon has been a small, one-hectare, estate-owned parcel in Le Mesnil, known as Le Jardin de Salon. The land here is near enough pure chalk.
In the late 1990s, I was an on-trade salesperson for Corney & Barrow Wine Merchants in London. Among their illustrious portfolio of agencies—DRC, Petrus, et al.—was Champagne Salon. This was back in the days when I could afford a bottle of Salon (with my staff discount). One of the most eye-opening tastings I have ever attended was an exclusive Salon tasting for top buyers, which included vintages going back to the 1940s and was hosted by the house’s young export director, Didier Depond. I was surprised to discover that the oldest bottles shown at the tasting no longer possessed any bubbles, yet they were glorious. This was my epiphany moment: the greatest Champagnes are great with or without their bubbles because they are great wines, first and foremost.
This is possible because of its sibling house, Delamotte, which receives the declassified fruit. For many years, Delamotte was the best-kept Champagne secret out there, but those in the know now know, and the price has been creeping up in recent years. In 1988, the house of Salon was purchased by Laurent-Perrier and has since been run as a separate entity. Today, Didier Depond is the president of both Salon and Delamotte.
I recently had the opportunity to enjoy the 1996 Salon. 1996 was a spectacular vintage for Champagne, producing a good crop of wines of great richness and racy backbones. The Chardonnay-based Champagnes have aged fantastically. This ’96 Salon is drinking beautifully now, still maintaining a spritely spray of youthful bubbles, yet should give pleasure for 20-30+ years, even after its fizz has long disappeared.
Article, Review and bottle shot by Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW
Photography by Johan Berglund
New Releases from Santa Lucia Highlands
Château Troplong Mondot 1964-2020
Morlet Family Vineyards’ 2020, 21 and 22 Releases
The Kinsman Eades Story