1996 Salon “Le Mesnil” Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
This is one of my absolute favourite champagnes. Fresh and clean on the palate and made to age for many years. Aromas of fresh citrus and green apples and lots of chalky mineral notes. Will hold for many years.
The 1996 Salon is a pale yellow color with a touch of green. It is clear and lively, with fine, persistent bubbles and a stunning bouquet. Initially, the nose offers hints of green apple, which soon develop into lemon and grapefruit combined with pear and kiwi notes. The wine is complex and refreshing on the palate, displaying a burst of minerality. This is a well-made, rich, powerful Champagne, all-encompassing yet subtle, with contained strength. According to Didier Depond, Salon should be served in a tulip-shaped glass instead of a traditional champagne flute. “Because of the richness and complexity of its aromas, and its exceptional, lingering finish, we’ve found that Salon can be drunk in the same way as a great wine. This style of glass allows the wine to breathe more efficiently.”
Salon uses only grapes from severely pruned vines that are at least 40-years-old and grown on mid-slopes. All of the fruit is picked and sorted by hand. Pressing is carried out with a traditional press used solely for Salon. Only the cuvée, or first pressing, is used for its wine. The cuvée is the lightest, purest and ripest juice that contains the highest amount of acid. The first fermentation occurs in a stainless steel tank, where the temperature is controlled and freshness preserved. To that end, the wine does not see any oak, nor does it go through malolactic fermentation.
Aging takes place in Salon’s chalk cellars for 8–10 years. The slow marriage of acidity and fruit that takes place over time gives Salon its signature elegance, finesse, balance and exceptional depth, as well as a fine, persistent mousse. Riddling is carried out manually, and because the bottle has an embossed relief (the word “Salon”) at the point where the bottle begins to taper toward the neck, a special technique is required to prevent sediment collecting in the lines of the relief. The bottle starts out with the embossed relief at the 12 o’clock position. From that point, it is riddled left to right, then right to left, until the sediment is trapped at the top of the neck of the bottle. The wine is hand-disgorged only when an order is received.
The 1996 Salon is yet another wine that is maturing splendidly. Once focused to the point of being painfully austere and angular, today the 1996 Salon has begun to soften and fill out. My latest bottles have been rich, generous and totally compelling in every way.
The latest release from Salon, this just explodes in the mouth with mineral, steel and flint. The tiny mousse has flavors of yeast and just a touch of toast. It is rich, but so austere and structured. Like many Salon Champagnes, this will age for 20 years or more.
A deep, vinous style, with understated power and grace. The lemon verbena, toast and honey aromas and flavors are propelled by the well-integrated structure and fine bubbles. There’s just a hint of greenness, marking its youthful impetuosity. Has great length. Best from 2010 through 2030.