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2006 Champagne Salon worldwide launch

April 4, 2017

5th April 2017 marks the worldwide launch of 2006 Champagne Salon, its 39th vintage. And, for the very first time in its history, Singapore has pipped Japan (traditionally chosen for its large market) as the country for the launch, in no small part thanks to the efforts of M. Christophe-Maleville Cazaux of the Vintage Club. Prior to the official launch, however, was a press conference held at the Atlas Bar, Singapore, this afternoon of 4th April 2017 at 3.00 PM hosted by Christophe in the presence of M. Didier Depond, President of Salon that I was privileged enough to attend, thanks to the kind generosity of the former. Yes, you have understood correctly: I am one of the very first persons in the world to taste this new vintage of Salon before its official launch.

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Derived from 100% chardonnay grand cru from the single vineyard of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger of the Cote de Blancs,  Salon produces only one single cuvee, the S de Salon, declared only in exceptional vintages. Thus far, since the start of the new millennium, Salon has been declared only in the even-numbered years (though I can tell you right now there will be a 2007 Champagne Salon next year). The estate does not bother with any other kind of bottling; at any rate, there simply isn’t enough to go around. Only 60,000 bottles of Champagne Salon are produced if a vintage is declared, compared with 800,000 bottles by its sister estate Delamotte (situated side-by-side), while the whole of Champagne produces 320 million bottles annually. That certainly puts things into perspective and Singapore has been allocated only just 600 bottles through its sole distributor The Vintage Club. The extremely limited production of Salon is due, in part, to the severe selection process during the harvest. Whatever that is declassified goes into its sister wine, either the Brut NV or Blancs de Blanc or vintage Delamotte.

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For this press conference, Christophe has invited only a very small group representing various interests. The luxurious and spacious Atlas Bar, with its high ceilings adorned with neo-classical art, was certainly apt. We began first with the Delamotte Brut NV, offering a generous bouquet of lime, green citrus and apricot with a forward balance, filling the palate with good concentration and lovely presence amidst gentle bubbles, finishing with a lifted tone of soft ferrous minerals though, ultimately, a tad short. An excellent calling card for this house, nonetheless.

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Didier holding the very first bottle of 2006 Champagne Salon to be popped anywhere in the world

We followed up with the Delamotte Blancs de Blanc NV that was initially closed, slowly opening up to reveal aromas of white flowers and incense with a trace of earthiness, rounded on the palate with excellent presence and depth, more minerally but never too dry nor austere, finishing with fine acidity and integration. Excellent as well but this is a wine that demands more time, with food to go along.

And then, finally, Didier gleefully held up the very first bottle of 2006 Champagne Salon to be popped anywhere in the world, having spent ten years on lees before its disgorgement in July 2016. Gentle yeasty tones fill the nose along with a generous glow of green fruits, yellow citrus and dried apricot, quite ample on the palate where it was surprisingly open, deep and inviting with unobtrusive bubbles, imbued with delicate minerals and excellent purity of fruit, exuding lovely presence, deftness and precision that came naturally with the superb balance, finishing with light overtones of mint. Wonderfully elegant. This is a wine that already has everything in place in proportion without calling attention to itself, a trait that I have noticed in all the finest cuvees regardless of colour, such as a Montrachet Grand Cru or a Romanee-Conti. Indeed, the Salon was served in a chardonnay glass, befitting its superb expression of this hallowed grape. With such completeness right off the starting blocks, the 2006 Champagne Salon is set to be a great classic in time to come. Didier felt that it paralleled the 1982. If that’s the case, I don’t have to tell you what to do.

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Christophe serving some of the luckiest folks in the world

It leaves me to thank Didier Depond for choosing Singapore to launch this wine, and to congratulate Christophe for doing so well in such a short span. And, in case you haven’t heard, the future release of the 2008 vintage  will only be bottled exclusively in magnums (deemed by Didier as the ideal format for long term ageing), only 8000 bottles available worldwide. I’m glad I got to know Christophe….merci beaucoup!

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Yours truly with M. Didier Depond

 

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