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Monday 1 September 2014

Salon releases 2002, but won’t make a 2012

7th March, 2014 by Patrick Schmitt

Like Krug, Salon won’t be making a vintage from the acclaimed 2012 harvest, Salon president Didier Depond confirmed at the launch of the Champagne’s 2002 release last night.

Salon 2002

Just 62,000 bottles have been produced of Salon 2002

During a dinner to celebrate the introduction of Salon’s first vintage of the millennium at London’s Sketch restaurant yesterday evening, Depond told the drinks business that Salon would not be made in the 2009, 2010 or 2011 vintages, as well as the widely-praised 2012 harvest.

“There will be no vintage from Salon in 2009, 10, 11 or 12,” he stated, adding, “Since 2008, there has been no genuinely great vintage in Champagne.”

However, the decision not to make a 2012 is surprising because it was a much-heralded harvest in the region.

Indeed, as previously reported by the drinks business, dry and warm weather in the run-up to picking produced a small but potentially great harvest in the region, with for example, Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, chef de cave at Louis Roederer, describing the quality of grapes from the 2012 harvest as ”outstanding”.

But Salon is not alone in declaring that it won’t be making a 2012 vintage, and Depond’s pronouncement this week follows confirmation from Olivier Krug that Krug won’t be making a vintage in that year too.

“We made an interesting decision last year – we decided not to make a 2012, although everyone was talking about 2012 as the vintage,” Olivier Krug told db during a meeting in January.

Explaining the motivation for such a move, Olivier added, “It was such a small crop that [Krug cellarmaster] Eric Lebel decided to keep all the 2012 for reserve wine, rather than make a vintage.”

Consequently, the wine from this harvest will be kept for the Krug Grande Cuvée: a blend of vintages up to 15 years old, and the brand’s flagship Champagne, although not its most expensive.

Meanwhile, Depond said that it was possible Salon may not make a wine from the 2013 harvest either, meaning it would endure five years without a release.

“I will be deciding on whether to make a release from 2013 next week,” he told db.

Interestingly, Depond also decided not to launch a Salon from 2000, stressing that Salon was the only house not to produce a vintage from this harvest.

“It was a marketing vintage, not a real vintage,” he said of the millennium year.

As a result, from the last decade, Salon will only be released in the 2002, ‘04, ‘06, ‘07 and ‘08 vintages.

Didier-Depond-Salon-350x350

Salon president and winemaker Didier Depond,
photographed by Colin Hampden-White

Like Moët’s recent announcement, the house will be skipping the 2005 vintage, but unlike Moët and Krug, Salon won’t be making a 2003 either – a year Depond said was “perfect for reserve wine, because it’s sweet and great to balance with an acidic vintage”.

Notably, Depond told db he had decided to make a “crazy decision” with the “very special” 2008 vintage, and bottle this release in magnums only (Salon normally release just 10% of their production in magnums).

“Because 2008 is huge in quality, but very small in quantity, we decided to make only magnums,” he explained.

Delighted with his decision, Depond said he had disgorged a magnum three months ago to check on the evolution of the wine, and discovered that “the wine is fabulous”.

However, he will be keeping the magnums of Salon 2008 in house’s cellars for a “minimum of 15-16 years” before release.

While Salon make on average 60,000 bottles in any single vintage release (and around 5,000 magnums), in 2008 he said there were just 10,000 magnums made of the Champagne.

“My dream would be to only produce magnum, because it is the perfect format,” he added.

Meanwhile, he said that 62,000 bottles had been made of the 2002 Salon, which was launched by Corney & Barrow this week with an opening offer of £1,325 per six-bottle case in bond.

Speaking about the wine, Depond said, “I’m very happy with my new baby, it is very fresh after 12 years on the yeast in the cellar, and for me, it really is a masculine wine – it is elegant and powerful at the same time.”

He also said that the 2002 was disgorged 8 months ago and given a dosage of 5.5 g/l.

Dividing recent Salon releases into masculine and feminine vintages, he compared the 2002 to another “masculine wine” from the 1999 harvest, while commenting that Salon’s 97 vintage was more feminine, comparing it to Audrey Hepburn.

When asked to compare the 2002 release to a male celebrity, he said, “It could be Justin Timberlake”.

Due to the extraordinary ageing capacity of Salon Champagne, Depond commented that he “tries” to keep back 10,000 bottles of each vintage made by the house for releasing at a later date at special occassions.

Champagne Salon was founded by Eugene-Aimé Salon in 1905. It is a blanc de blancs made using Chardonnay from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger in the Côte des Blancs and a vineyard owned by the house known as Le Jardin de Salon. You can read more about the brand’s history here.

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