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2002 Champagne Salon Le Mesnil, Blanc de Blancs
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Salon, a tiny house on the Côte de Blancs, produces what connoisseurs consider to be the quintessential Blanc de Blancs. Salon produces Champagnes in minuscule amounts (50,000 bottles a year, if at all) from over 40-year-old vines in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger (one of the greatest crus of the Côte de Blancs).
Salon produces the only wine in the world not to be made every year and is on average only declared about 3 times a decade. Salon is extremely delicate, subtly rich and with age (20-30 years or more) develops notable aromas and flavours of coconut, walnut, coffee and vanilla. All champagne lovers should experience Salon at some stage. Exquisite.
26% of vineyards in Champagne are planted with Chardonnay and it performs best on the Côtes des Blancs and on the chalk slopes south of Epernay. It is relatively simple to grow, although it buds early and thus is susceptible to spring frosts. It produces lighter, fresher wines than those from Burgundy and gives finesse, fruit and elegance to the final blend. It is the sole grape in Blancs de Blancs, which are some of the richest long-lived Champagnes produced.
Pinot Noir accounts for nearly 40% of the plantings in Champagne and lies at the heart of most blends - it gives Champagne its body, structure, strength and grip. It is planted across Champagne and particularly so in the southern Aube district.
The final component is Pinot Meunier and this constitutes nearly 35% of the plantings. Its durability and resistance to spring frosts make the Marne Valley, a notorious frost pocket, its natural home. It ripens well in poor years and produces a soft, fruity style of wine that is ideal for blending with the more assertive flavours of Pinot Noir. Producers allege that Pinot Meunier lacks ageing potential, but this does not deter Krug from including around 15% of it in their final blends.
In Champagne, the term Blanc de Blancs designates Champagnes made only from Chardonnay grapes. The vineyards located between Cramant and Mesnil-sur-Oger in Cote de Blancs yield the best examples of the style.
A classic Blanc de Blancs is restrained and elegant when young, yet with ageing it develops a mouth-coating brioche richness that overlays an intense expression of fruitiness. Blanc de Blancs are endowed with longer ageing potential than a typical Blanc de Noirs.