©Tina Xie, 17 March 2021
Located in northwest France, Champagne is known for its cool continental climate and challenges for a perfect harvest. While many houses resort to blending different varieties and vintages to deliver consistency of desired styles, Salon stands out as the first commercial house crafting the icon style of blanc de blancs since the 1920s. They invented blanc de blancs and have kept on improving it with their original belief – one single grape, Chardonnay, from one single cru, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, to produce one single Champagne, and only in the best vintages. This is truly uncompromising craftmanship for blanc de blancs!
Salon 1988 was the first Champagne that drew my attention to this region, and my love for it never fades. Here I must thank my dear friend Jefferson for generously sharing of this beautiful bottle. It was unforgettably expressive and complex with flavours of golden apple, walnuts, bakery and coffee characters, beautifully supported by its ultra-delicate mousse and incisive acidity. Subsequent tastings taught me the appreciation of vintage characters and the patience required for its age-defying beauty. Salon 2007 is described as ‘une lumière vive’ (a shining light), showing a pure and delicate sensation with balletic power and poise from the lively acid backbone. It will not fully unveil itself until 20 – 30 years from vintage. Without the wait, Salon 1997 is another fine example that has only just started to show more of its charm, and Salon 1996 will present you with firmness and power.
Salon looks for perfection, not production volume. Compared to others in the region, with kilometers-long underground cellars, this house is small with its original 1 hectare vineyard in the backyard, and a cellar where you can see the walls from either side over stacks of countable bottles. The house is petite and charming. These characteristics are also evident in its wines.
The house only uses meticulously-selected healthy fruit from vines more than 40 years old, grown on the ideal mid slopes, for the gentle pressing. Fruit purity is further preserved by its 100% stainless tank vinification and minimum ageing of ten years before release. Salon is made by perfectionists, with no compromise. It is not surprising that only 800 magnums were produced for the entire 2008 vintage for example. It is truly one of the rarest wines in the world.
Salon is always first and the best blanc de blancs. I hope you will share this journey with me.