I sacrificed a bottle of the 2002 Brut Blanc de Blancs Le Mesnil from my own cellar to fill this gap in The Wine Advocate database and was interested to see that the wine has evolved a little since I last encountered it a couple of years ago. Subtle aromas of brioche, iodine and walnuts now inflect its bouquet of ripe lemon, green apple and crushed chalk, and on the palate, the wine is full-bodied, broad and powerful, with a fine mousse and considerable depth and dimension, concluding with a delicately chalky finish. This is an unusually ripe, muscular vintage of Salon, and my own palate tends to favor the brighter, more incisive vintages such as the 2007 or the 1996 at its best, but this is nonetheless a superb blanc de blancs that's maturing a touch faster than I expected.
Drink 2018 - 2035
William Kelley, Wine Advocate (Apr 2019)
A subtle, intense champagne that shows complex character of lilac, mineral, sliced lemon, apple and white pepper. It is full-bodied and dense but racy and agile with a lightness and freshness. It has a gloriously long finish. It changes every moment in the glass. It has such clarity. It's magnificent to drink now, but shows great texture and structure for aging. Best since 1982.
James Suckling, jamessuckling.com (Mar 2015)
An almost ideal growing season with no periods of extreme weather, ending with a cool but sunny September. Harvest began on 16 September. The very classy nose has a mineral-infused character underlying its spicy, floral scents. This Salon has the power to be long-lived and the freshness and vivacity to be already enjoyable, but also to be an ideal companion for a gastronomic meal. Perfection.
Drink 2020 - 2040
Yohan Castaing, Decanter.com (Jan 2020)
About this WINE
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.
Blanc de Blancs
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.
Chardonnay is often seen as the king of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.