Wine Talk

Snooth User: Caroline Henry


Posted by Caroline Henry, Jun 10, 2012.

I bet a lot of you have heard of Champagne Salon - the critically acclaimed Champagne from Le Mesnil sur Orger in the Cotes des Blancs. Salon has been different – right from the start… 

The Champagne house was established in 1911 - though the first vintage was the 1905 – by Eugène-Aimé Salon, a Champenois who had become a very successful Parisian Furrier. With part of his fortune he went back home to make a different style of Champagne specifically to his taste:  a vintage champagne using only 1 variety (Chardonnay), from only one village (Le Mesnil-sur-Oger). To make this wine he picked 19 of the best vineyards in Le Mesnil to supplement the supply from his own vineyard (Le Jardin Salon) which was just behind his property. He was not interested in buying more land, as buying the grapes gave him the freedom to only buy in the years he wanted to. 

The first Champagnes Salon produced, were just for private consumption and only after the 1st world war he commercialized his winemaking activity by releasing the 1921 Salon at the end of the 20’s. In fact this was only the 5th vintage in 18 years which was also the first Blanc des Blancs Champagne. Over the next 22 years Eugène Salon continued to slowly grow the brand and made a further 6 vintages before he passed away in 1943. As he had no children the estate was left to his sister, and nephew who struggled to make the business profitable so in 1963 they chose to sell it to Dubonet-Cinzano, which was later acquired by Pernod-Ricard. In the 80’s the latter tried to sell the brand off and struggled for 6 years before Laurent–Perrier purchased the house in 1988. Ever since, Salon has benefited a lot of its relationship with sister house Delamotte (which is located just next door). 

Throughout the years Salon, in memory of by Eugène-Aimé, has only produced a Champagne in the best vintages, the grapes still come from the original 20 parcels (11 HA) in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. The total production is around 60,000 bottles (when it is produced) which are released after a lengthy time sur lattes (minimum 10 years aging in the cellar) and the “S” by Salon is one of the most sought after Champagnes still today.

Salon was also instrumental to the promotion of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger to Grand Cru status in 1985, as it’s wines were known for the high quality of the terroir. Champagnes from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger are very austere, they are known for their high acidity and chalky mineral undertones, but with enough time in the cellar they develop to show all the potential they hold. 

Besides Salon there are a few other excellent producers in Le Mesnil – do check out my latest list of ChampagnesBlanc de Blancs from Le Mesnil sur Oger where I focused solemly on Champagnes from this village. 


Reply by Mary Margaret McCamic, Jun 10, 2012.


Hey Caroline,

A very special Champagne, indeed! I've only ever had the pleasure of drinking the 1997. When I tasted it last year, it was beautiful, with pronounced acidity, tiny, soft bubbles, and really lovely citrus, stone fruit, and tart apple. A touch of nuttiness, but overall still quite fresh. Delicious! I would love the opportunity to try it again over the next decade, but alas, my wallet will probably not permit such indulgence. Do you have any opinions/experience with the development of Salon? Any favorite vintages you've gotten to taste? 

Thanks for your insight - I see from your profile you are working on your WSET Diploma. I just completed mine last year, and it was very rewarding. Best of luck to you - I have a feeling you already have or you will rock your sparkling unit!


Reply by Victor Pugatschew, Jun 10, 2012.

One fundamental importance about Salon is that the malo-lactic is blocked.  This is a huge factor which is generally always overlooked.

Reply by Caroline Henry, Jun 11, 2012.

Hi Victor, 

Thank you for your comment:-) As I did not realy talk about the wine making process, I did not mention the  wine not going through Malo either, not the fact that it is tank fermented or the dosage. This is something which is happening more and more today in Champagne - which in itself could be an interesting topic to write a future post about it. Thank you fir giving me this idea!!

Reply by Caroline Henry, Jun 11, 2012.

Hi Mary, 

thank you for your message! I have never tried the 1997 - but I can imagine the wine being beautifuk as it would have had a few years of developmemt in the bottle after disgorgement :-) A long time ago, I think about 4 years, I was lucky enough to attend a Salon tasting in Sydney and taste several vintages. I found my notes back and the one that most impressed me was the 1988 (had 5 stars next to it). At the time I was not as knowledgeable about sparkling wines as I am now so it would be interesting to do a comparative tasting again - but like you my budget does not alow that right now - so leaves us to hope for another tasting invitation :-))

Thank you for your kind words on the WSET!!


Reply by Victor Pugatschew, Jun 11, 2012.

Part of Salons 'aging' ability and overt freshness is due to the blocking of malo.  Hence Salon needs more time on lees prior to release. The only other producer in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger that I know of  who blocks malo for all the cuvees is Christophe Constant at Champagne J.L.Vergnon. There must be others in this village of course.

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