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Champagne Salon releases 2013 vintage

Legendary Champagne house Champagne Salon has released its latest vintage, the  Salon Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs 2013 – a vintage from “an outlier year that defied all odds”. 

The Salon Cuvee ‘S’ Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs 2013 has been released at  £2,745 per three bottles in the UK, the equivalent of £10,980 per case of 12.

The wine has impressed the critics, earning it a “magnificent” 99 points from Antonio Galloni at Vinous , who called it “the most powerful, dense young Salon [he had] ever tasted”, while James Suckling described it as “sophisticated… with a long textured image”, awarding it 97 points, according to Liv-ex. However, Liv-ex noted that the release lay just above it’s Fair Market evaluation, pointing to the 2012 as providing better value, along with the 100-point 2008, despite its market price being “nearly double that of most of the other back vintages”.

The Salon Cuvée ‘S’ is made from only the most exceptional vintages, in small quantities, and released after an average of a decade’s ageing. However the 2013 is the second release from the Champagne house in as many years, coming a year after the release of the impressive 2012 Salon Cuvee ‘S’ Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Brut, but only the sixth release since 2000.  The house, which was founded in 1905 and became the first Champagne house to produce a Blanc de Blancs Champagne, has only made 44 releases in its nearly 120 year history.

Speaking to the drinks business at the release of the 2012, Cristian Rimoldi, export director of Champagne Delamotte & Champagne Salon said the 2013 would have a very different profile to the “atypical”  2012 release, being more typical of Mesneil, and more austere than the 2012.

According to Rebecca Palmer at Corney & Barrow, the 2013 growing season in Champagne was “far from a ‘textbook classic’” with conditions that “threatened to derail the entire vintage”, with a huge variation between different sub-regions and parcels. As a result, the 2013 Champagne vintage “was down-played” with only “opaque” and “noncommittal” pronouncements, making it “something of an enigma… in the slipstream of its stellar predecessors, 2012 and 2008.”

The season started with a grim spring of heavy rains and stubborn cold, leading to an “astonishingly late” budburst at the end of April, which delayed flowering, in some places by several weeks, to the end of June.  Showery weather resulted in poor and uneven fruit set, but was followed by record-breaking temperatures and luminous sunshine during July and August, which broke into heavy rain and hail in some places (affecting the Aube and the Marne, and up to 30% in some areas of the Côte des Blancs). Although chardonnay is less susceptible to mildew, it required the Salon team to work hard to ensure the crop. The grapes then didn’t come to full maturity until the end of a cold, autumnal September, with picking starting on the 1 October – one of the latest vintages in decades at Salon. This had a notable influence on style, she wrote,  pointing to the other October vintages: 1983, 1988 and 1998.

“The grapes that made it through the strict selection process showed tremendous concentration of fruit, and tense, racy acidities,” she wrote, resulting in “an extraordinary wine and unmistakably Salon” that was “surprisingly accessible for a Salon at this stage”.

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Iconic Champagne brand Salon launches its latest vintage

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