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A pale yellow wine with hints of green, “as bright as the morning sunlight on the highest snow caps,” says Didier Depond, chairman of Champagne Salon Le Mesnil. With fine, active bubbles, it has both the electricity and impertinence of youth, yet shows complexity and layers of aromas.
On the palate, Salon Le Mesnil displays a remarkable subtlety of flavors with hints of green apples, fresh citrus – lemon and grapefruit – building into mellow hints of ripe pear and kiwi. It is a virile, strongly-built wine with restrained power.
Salon Le Mesnil’s restrained power, dazzling aromas and mesmerizing intensity will complement dishes that combine rarity with beauty, such as the finest seafood – seaweed fragranced lobster, scallops, freshly-roasted cod sprinkled with a few drops of green olive oil – great Parma and Iberico ham (fat and aromatic), a delicious potato gratin with caviar or a veal casserole with morel mushrooms.
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.
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.
Made from 100% Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs grand cru vineyard, Le Mesnil-sur- Oger. The densely planted vines are located on the mid-slope in chalky soil, and the Cordon de Royat method of trellising is used, which allows access to the soil at the base of the vines.
The grapes are picked and sorted by hand. Only the first pressing, or cuvée, is used. This is the lightest, freshest juice, containing the highest percentage of acidity, which is essential to the evolution and vivacity of the Champagne. The first fermentation takes place in a stainless steel tank. The wine receives no oak exposure and does not undergo malolactic fermentation.
The wine is cellared in the bottle for an average of 10 years, gaining in complexity and finesse. Riddling is done by hand. All bottles are disgorged within 8 months of the first disgorgement, also by hand.
1996 / In the wake of a dry, grey and cold winter (albeit one with only rare frosts), budburst took place mid-April owing to a sharp rise in temperature. However May was marked by very low temperatures, although with no rainfall. Early June was hot and sunny. Capricious summer alternated between sizzling heat and rain at the end of August. Harvesting was set to start from 16th September to 1st October. The composition of the 1996 musts was absolutely exceptional. It was impossible to find identical analytical characteristics in past harvests, i.e. such richness in sugar and such strong total acidity. The characteristics of the 1996 wine offer a long cellaring potential.
Up to this point 1996 has been considered a fantastic vintage which produced classic wines; the best since 1990. A long, dry summer produced grapes of record ripeness with record acidity. Some, including myself, question how the 1996s are aging. The wines are generally characterized by a distinctive rather lemony acidity and very good attack, but some wines now seem terribly austere, while others already seem dangerously short of fruit. None of the subsequent vintages are quite as distinctive as 1996, which in the more successful cases should almost certainly be drunk after the 1999s.
Recommended glass shape
Average Bottle Price
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