Salon Le Mesnil 1996 Blanc de Blancs Brut - 97 points
"From the same 20 parcels in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger as the house has used since its founding in 1921, this is the latest release from Salon. It explodes in the mouth with mineral, steel and flint. The tiny mousse has flavours of yeast with a touch of toast. It is rich, but also austere and structured. like many Salon Champagnes, this will age for 20 years or more." By Roger Voss
The essence of Champagne by Roger Voss
"...Blanc de Blancs Champagne, made only from Chardonnay grapes, is the wine that is stirring the sense of Champagne lovers around the world.
" Blanc de Blancs is Chardonnay unadorned. It reveals the true essence of the grape in all its crisp, mineral glory. There is no wood to come between us and the fresh acidity... of this cool-climate expression of the grape. It can be enjoyed throughout a meal or simply as the perfect apéritif...
A MATTER OF STYLE
"The 12-mile-long ridge known as the Côte des Blancs forms the heartland of Chardonnay in Champagne. Running south -east from Epernay, it is densely planted, leaving room on the top of the slope for trees. With its many east-facing twists and folds, it provides perfect conditions for Chardonnay - particularly the white, gravelly chalk soil.
"Even more than Pinot-dominated Champagnes, those featuring 100-percent Chardonnay can support dryness. Witness one of the geatest: Salon, with its mere hint of dosage. This is not a grower Champagne - Salon, the producer, only owns a tiny vineyard, not enough even for its modest needs of 60,000 bottles. But aal the grapes are sourced from 20 parcels within Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, giving SAlon a definite village character of minerality, steel and flint. Salon has a razor-sharp acidity when young, and demands many more years of aging - the 1988 vintage is just about mature, while the current release, the 1996, is still immensely austere.
A MATTER OF SOIL
"The villages that line the lower slopes of the Côte des Blancs are holy ground for Chardonnay lovers : Avize, Cramant, Oger, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. They are akin to Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault in Burgundy, land where Chardonnay and soil come together in a seemingly perfect union.
"Each village has its vinous character; it can be thought of as a scale from fruity to mineral. Oger and Chouilly are at the fruity end of the spectrum. Somewhere in the middle is Avize, followed by Cramant. At the pure mineral end is Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, which produces the longest-lived of Blanc de Blancs.