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Iconic Champagne brand Salon launches its latest vintage

Iconic champagne brand, Champagne Salon has launched its latest vintage, the 2012 Salon Cuvee ‘S’ Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Brut, the first vintage it has released in four years. 

photo by Leif Carlsson

Speaking to the drinks business at a tasting yesterday, Cristian Rimoldi, export director of Champagne Delamotte & Champagne Salon said the 2012 was atypical for the iconic brand, which produces a tiny quantity of Blanc de Blancs  in a single vintage from the Grand Cru village of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, only in the best years.

Since the house was founded in 1905, becoming the first Champagne house to produce a Blanc de Blancs Champagne, there have been only 43 releases in the Champagne’s history, with 37 during the 20th century and only five since 2000. Prior to the release of the 2012 vintage in 2021, there was a three-year gap following the release of the 2008 vintage.

Despite a fairly rocky start, 2012 proved to be a sunny vintage, with incredible conditions in August – warm days and cool nights – and a smooth and steady September leading to perfect ripening conditions, and high-quality grapes that produced wines with great depth and complexity along with very balanced acidity. Although frosts and hail devastated yields in the early part of the year, the summer snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, and the quality has made it widely recognised as one of Champagne’s greatest vintages in decades.

Rimoldi said the wines are more generous and less austere than many of its previous vintages as a result, while retaining the purity, crisp minerality and depth of flavour that the house if famed for.

“It is very different to a “normal” Côte de Blancs,” he said, describing the more “tropical” flavour and “generous nose”, with some hints of lemon, apricots and great balance.

Although reluctant to compare it to other vintages, he said it was not dissimilar to the 2002 vintage, although noting that it did not have the “fleshiness” of the ‘02.

Around 60,000 bottles of the 2012 vintage have been produced, along with 2,500 magnums – which despite being a small amount, beats the tiny 2008 vintage, which was so small, it was released entirely in 8,000 magnums.

Fermentation and maturation takes place in stainless steel and with the Salon, malolactic fermentation is blocked. A dosage of 5g/l is added, and the wines were aged on the lees for 8 ½ years prior to disgorgement in March 2021.

Salon 2012 is available for £1,450/case of three bottles, in bond, UK from Corney & Barrow.

In terms of sales, exports are key, Rimoldi says. “France represents 25% for all sales for Delamotte but only 5% for Salon – so the export part of our businesses is quite important for us,” he explains. “Our first market is Japan, then we have the US and UK at same level in terms of value and volume and then Europe, with Italy and Germany the main markets.”

Rimoldi also confirmed that although it was not official yet, the Champagne house would be releasing the 2013 vintage – most likely next year.

He said that it was likely to have a different profile to the 2012 release and be more typical of Mesneil, and more austere than the 2012. However, he said that he hadn’t tasted much of the 2013 yet and would need to taste more “to have a bigger idea of a picture of the vintage”.

2022 harvest

Speaking about the 2022 harvest that has just finished, Rimoldi said it was “perfect in quantity and quality”, which was a great thing for the appellation as a whole, following last year’s challenges.

“We were very lucky,” he said. “Although of course last year for Côte des Blancs wasn’t a bad year in terms of quality, the problem was one of quantity. In the Côte des Blancs we lost probably 30% which is not bad compared to the [rest of the] Champagne region. We didn’t have great quantity, but the quality was there. This year is particularly good news.”

Also at the tasting was the 2014 vintage for Champagne  Delamotte. Today both Champagne houses are owned Laurent-Perrier, who acquired it in 1988, but Champagne Delamotte differs from his sister house in terms of time on the lees and  grape sourcing – Delamotte’s grapes are made from grapes sourced from all six Grand Cru villages in the Côte des Blancs – Avize, Chouilly, Cramant, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger and Oiry – and it undergoes malolactic fermentation.



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