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News

The importance of history / Salon’s reputation relies heavily on its history. Its success at Maxim’s belongs to the past, but its commercial success lies just ahead. The fascination that surrounds it is still based purely and simply on Eugène-Aimé Salon’s initial concept: one village, one variety and one vintage. Today, it is enjoyed by tens of thousands of people.

Salon, if anything, is a terroir champagne without an equal. Its limited availability and unique concept help to create the myth that surrounds it, which continues to lure lovers of champagne in ever-greater numbers. However, does the quality of the wine, with its clean lines and sharp acidic tones, live up to the expectations of consumers? When young, perhaps not, but when mature, definitely!

Although the wine was originally made to please just one man, Eugène-Aimé Salon, he was not alone in his predilection. Salon may be an interesting entry in the history books and Salon’s owners may have changed over the years, but Salon today is one of the most sought after and most difficult champagnes to acquire.

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History

Simply put, it is a grand vin... with bubbles. Salon is a unique Champagne. All the emphasis in the production of this exceptional wine is on the singular. It was originally the product of one single man, Aimé Salon; from one single region, the Côte de Blancs; from one single cru, le Mesnil-sur-Oger; from one single grape variety, Chardonnay; and from one single vintage, with no blending whatsoever.

 

Created in 1911 with first vintage 1905, Champagne Salon is the creation of one man, Eugène-Aimé Salon. Eugène-Aimé Salon’s rather successful career as a fur trader provided him with a luxurious lifestyle, in which he would dine at Maxim’s on a daily basis. However, life was not perfect, and it was additionally marred by bad champagne. The numerous champagne types that he tasted at Maxim’s brought him little pleasure, often spoiling what had, for the most part, been a good day: and, after all, what was the purpose of champagne anyway? Totally frustrated, Eugène-Aimé Salon decided to make his very own champagne – for himself! 

 

At the beginning of the 20th century he just created the Blanc de Blancs. The first known vintage was 1905. Now that the tragedy of the war was over,he was encouraged by his numerous friends to profit more fully from his wine and the house of Salon was created, to cater for his new clientele. Eugène Aimé Salon decided to make a co-operative where he had an access to select the best grapes from number of growers in Le Mesnil village. Salon had access also to entire production of Clos Tarin vineyard (named by the Tarin family) until Krug bought it and named it Clos du Mesnil in 1971. 

 

This Champagne is produced from a one-hectare parcel owned by Salon: "Salon’s garden", and from 19 other smaller parcels in Mesnil-sur-Oger, chosen by Aimé Salon at the beginning of the century. The wines are cellared in the bottle for an average of 10 years, gaining in complexity and finesse. Unlike many another champagne house, Eugène-Aimé only made wines that were of the very best quality. He only wanted the best, and if that was not going to be the case, he would sell the grapes. There were four vintages (1905, 1909, 1911 and 1914) that were exclusively for his own use and that of friends. Of course, that was before they became Maxim’s house champagne in the 1920s. Maxim's was the only customer for Salon unti 1960’s. 

 

The proof that memory and history are important is shown by the bottles in the cellars from nearly all the vintages that have ever been produced at Salon. Headed by Aimé Salon until his death in 1943, the house was then left to his nephew. In 1988, Champagne Laurent-Perrier, a family-owned company, became the majority shareholder of Champagne Salon.

Today, the house of Salon, along with its ancient neighbour and sister, Champagne Delamotte (the fifth oldest Champagne house, founded in 1760) are directed by one man, Didier Depond.

Vintages currently maturing in Salon's cellar are : 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008

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Vineyards

Situated in le Mesnil-sur-Oger, in the Côte des Blancs, the house of Salon has only one Champagne, the cuvee ‘S’. This Champagne is produced from a one-hectare parcel owned by Salon: “Salon’s garden”, and from 19 other smaller parcels in Mesnil-sur-Oger, chosen by Aimé Salon at the beginning of the century.

Nine hectares are managed by 20 growers on a long-term contract and the other one is Salon’s own Le Jardin de Salon vineyard. The average age today of the Salon vines is 40 years. 

Audrey Campos says: “The soul of Salon wines is concealed in the clean-featured, mineral tones and sharp acidity. That soulfulness comes from the soil at Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, which is the most acidic in Côte de Blancs. The old vines extend their roots deep into the earth where they benefit from the mineral riches that abound there. Unfortunately, Le Jardin de Salon had to be completely replanted in 2002 due to a disease that killed off the old vines. That takes time, as Salon’s vineyard yields a proper quality harvest for Salon wines.

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Winemaking

The grapes are picked and sorted by hand. Pressing is carried out at le Mesnil-sur-Oger, with a traditional press used only for Salon.

Only the first pressing, or cuvée, is used. This is the purest, freshest juice, containing the highest percentage of acidity, which is essential to the evolution and vivacity of the Champagne. This alone does not make an unique wine: only the exceptional years are kept for production, when the grapes contain the ideal combination of richness of fruit, sugar and acidity, which happens on average every two to three years.



 

Laurent-Perrier’s chef de cave, Michel Fauconnet, says there were a few changes made to the way Salon was produced after they bought the estate. Greater attention was paid to cleanliness and tidiness in the vineyards as well as in the winery. The most significant change, however, was transferring the production of Salon to Laurent-Perrier, where they had up-to-date production facilities and equipment. The grapes are pressed at Laurent-Perrier in Tours-sur-Marne, which is also where the initial first fermentation takes place.

 

“When working with Salon, all the classical Champagne rules are left aside. The philosophy of Salon sets it apart from all other brands; grapes from a single village, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, and a single grape variety, Chardonnay, is used and the selection of the harvest year is made. No blend of year, no blend of different grapes and no blend of different villages – Salon is absolutely unique. Each spring, we decide if Salon will be produced from the previous vintage or not. If the answer is no, we just use it for Delamotte or if not to for Delamotte then for L-P. When processing Salon I know it is a big challenge, because I have to accept or refuse a whole vintage depending on its respective potential for ageing. The challenge here is absolutely opposite to that of the main task that I accomplish for L-P Brut or Delamotte Brut, for instance. With Salon, I just cannot rely upon reserve wines or previous vintage years to balance the quality of the current harvest. That is why Salon vintages are only released if their natural balance is perfect in a particular sugar content versus acidity, in which Fauconnet remarks and adds that the wine never undergoes malolactic fermentation. With the high malic acidity involved, the wine has a long ageing potential and maintains its youthful green colour for a very long time in bottle ageing.”

 

According to Michel Fauconnet, there is no special procedure required in Salon winemaking itself, just the respect of the grape and the purest extraction of the terroir. This is maintained by using indigenous yeasts and vinifying the wine in stainless steel tanks instead of wooden barrels. Subsequent to this, the wines are delivered back to Salon for a second fermentation process. The wines rest on their lees in the Salon cellars for ten years on average before disgorgement. After disgorging, a low dosage of only 5 to 6 grams of sugar per litre is added. Since the bottle shapes are unique, all of the labelling is made by hand. 

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Nathan Long, Wine Dealer (United Kingdom)  tasted  1 wines  from  Salon . In a tasting of  13 wines 

1982 was without question one of the great vintages and from a financial viewpoint the most important year in the 20th century for Bordeaux: the vintage brought wines of superb class in not small quantities. The growing season progressed ideally. An early flowering was followed by a hot and dry summer. The resulting wines are meaty and possess powerful tannin structure.

4m 22d ago

 Richard Juhlin / The number One champagne expert in the world, Pro (Sweden)  tasted  1 wines  from  Salon . In a tasting of  29 wines 

Many prestige champagnes debuted in 1959 vintage, for example, Dom Ruinart and Pol Roger Blanc de Chardonnay. A large harvest of champagnes, that often ended up above 13 percent alcohol because of the extremely hot summer. The wines have proven to be very sustainable, despite the low acid. Power and concentration are great regardless if the wines are dominated by Chardonnay or pinot noir. A wonderful champagne year in its style!

5m 12d ago

 Mark Beaven , Pro (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Salon . In a tasting of  17 wines 

Sunday dinner with Krug 1973, Lafite and Latour 1959, La Tache 1969 etc

5m 14d ago

 Bartholomew Broadbent / Wine Writer, Wine Importer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Salon . In a tasting of  14 wines 

Our host in Mississippi, Norm Rush, opens a lot of wine from his cellar. It is one of the reasons that 30+ winemakers keep returning every year!

5m 20d ago

 Essi Avellan MW / Editor of the Champagne magazine, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Salon . In a tasting of  26 wines 

KRUG CLOS DU MESNIL 1995 / The toasty nose, with a suggestion of oak, is both subtle and layered. The structure is exceptional; the rich fruitiness of the vintage is combined charmingly with the stylish acidity of the Chardonnay. The concentration is perfect and the length of the taste does not leave any room for improvement. The wines of the 1995 vintage can usually be enjoyed at a young age but the rather unattached aroma of oak should be allowed to integrate into the fruitiness of the wine over time.

6m 19d ago

 Mark Beaven , Pro (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Salon . In a tasting of  38 wines 

Antonio Galloni's Fabulous BYOB Dinner with many wonderful Italian Winemaker guests

7m 19d ago

 Mark Beaven , Pro (United States)  tasted  2 wines  from  Salon . In a tasting of  20 wines 

MY TOP 20 OF THE 2016


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8m 14d ago

 Marie Ahm, Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  1 wines  from  Salon . In a tasting of  10 wines 

MY TOP 10 WINES OF THE 2016

8m 27d ago

 Mark Beaven , Pro (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Salon . In a tasting of  19 wines 

Moet Hennesy and Mark Holiday Tasting 

9m 6d ago

 John Kapon / CEO / Ackerr Merrall & Condit, Pro (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Salon . In a tasting of  27 wines 

A Bad Boy Birthday Bash


Some people know how to do it right. The right ambience, the right company, the right food and of course, the right wine. I have been drinking with Bad Boy as long as I have been writing tasting notes, and I can safely say that he knows how to do it right. This past month he hosted over sixty wine lovers at his home in New Jersey for a spectacular celebration of wine and friends. The guest list was basically the Academy Awards for fine and rare wine in New York City, and Bad Boy unanimously took home Best Director and Best Picture.
 
The only problem with a Bad Boy production is the party factor, as in it turns into a great party, rather quickly. Some, like Mr. Vinous and Dapper Dave, stayed studious to the very end and compiled many more notes than I. I started strong, but in the end I am a drinker, so of the 130 bottles, 16 magnums and 2 jeroboams that were opened, I managed notes for approximately 30 wines. While I feel quite inadequate at the moment, I felt more than adequate throughout the night.

9m 23d ago

 Victoria Morris, Wine Collector (Isle of Man)  tasted  1 wines  from  Salon . In a tasting of  13 wines 

The Mosaic restaurant's Romanée Conti tasting on the 12th of January 2016 in Johannesburg. Jean Vincent Ridon was one of the few who managed to get a place at the tasting to be presented by the legend himself M Aubert de Villaine, the winemaker and manager of Domaine de la Romanée Conti.

10m 16d ago

 Mark Beaven , Pro (United States)  tasted  2 wines  from  Salon . In a tasting of  118 wines 

BF Post-Bday Marathon Tasting with White Truffle Twist + Elvis - 118 wines!

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