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Salon

This, the "personal Champagne house" of founder Eugene Aime Salon, a rabbit-skin millionaire of the early twentieth century, is a living historical monument.

The company has only ever made just one wine, a vintage Blanc des Blancs produced in great years only from 21 original parcels in Le Mesnil, and given between 8 and 10 years ageing before release. Salon itself (part of Laurent-Perrier) owns just 3 ha; the rest of the wine comes from 15 ha owned by 18 growers, all of whom sell all their wine to Salon (which in undeclared years becomes Delamotte or Laurent-Perrier.)

 

Most of the decision as to whether to declare a Salon, according to director Didier Depond, is taken at harvest, and the rest after fermentation. Officially, Salon does not undergo malolactic, wheras Delamotte does. According to Bruno Paillard, the only way that malolactic can effectively be prevented in Champagne is by microfiltration, heavy sulphur use, or permanent temperature control until the point at which the wine is served. Neither of the former techniques take place at Salon, and the latter is not possible to control. What is sought, says Depond, is an “equilibrium between sugar and acidity”. This can sometimes lead to some surprise omissions, as with 1989 (“there was a lack of acidity”) and 2000 (“too much rot; it was not a great year”).

 

On the mathematical basis of declarations, Salon has, perhaps surprisingly, judged the decade of the 1990s superior to the 1980s; it was the first since the 1940s with five declarations (1990, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999). Wood is not used, and there is no late harvesting: freshness is the primary aim. The 1990 (a year which the house considers to be one of the two greatest of the twentieth century, with 1928) is still young, massive as Chardonnay in Champagne rarely is, and soberly forceful, a paste of minerals; it needs a further decade.   Andrew Jefford - 'The New France'

Website:

www.salondelamotte.com

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