In the 1920s, the house champagne poured at Maxim's, one of the most famous restaurants in Paris, was Salon, brewed exclusively from Chardonnay, which was unusual for a Champagne.
Le Mesnil sur Auger
Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, where Salon's vineyards and cellars are located, is a small village with a population of less than 1,200, about 10 km south of Epernay, one of the major cities in Champagne, and can be driven through in about 5 minutes. Vineyards are spread out in the surrounding area, but from the moment you enter the city center, the cellars of champagne makers line the streets, creating an unusual atmosphere, like that of Las Vegas, where casinos suddenly appear in the desert. As you enter the village from Epernay down County Route 10, the prominent producers are spread out on the western hillside on your right, where you will find signs for Pierre Péters, Guy Charlemagne, Pierre Moncuit, and Rownoy, as well as the huge cellars of Le Menil, a cooperative. Although there are no signs or nameplates, the Clos du Menil vineyard is surrounded by a stone wall in the center of the village, and a small brewery is attached to the gate.
The vineyards of Le Menil sur Auger cover an area of 434 hectares, and 99.4% of the varieties grown are Chardonnay. Champagnes made from the grapes of this village have a hard, robust style, especially the Blanc de Blancs, which require a long time to mature. In addition to Krug's Clos du Menil mentioned above, other famous vineyards include Les Chatillons, vinified by Pierre Peters and Pierre Moncuit, and Les Carrels by Jacques Seros. Jacques Seros has released six lieux-dits series, but of the three Chardonnays, only Les Carrels is a slope vineyard while Chemin de Chalons in the village of Cramant and Les Chantrennes in the village of Avize are flat.
The Côte des Blancs region, which extends south of Epernay, is known for its excellent Chardonnay, and according to the official classification of Champagne, "Eciel des Crus" (classes of production areas), which began in 1927, six villages from the north, Chouilly, Oiry, Cramant, Avize, Ogier, Le Menil sur Ogier The six villages of Chouilly, Oiry, Cramant, Avize, Ogier, and Le Menil sur Ogier are designated 100% Grands Crus. Among the Côte des Blancs, Le Mesnil sur Auger is exceptional, and its fame was built by Salon.
Salon is a champagne house founded by Eugène-Émé Salon (1867-1943), a native of the village of Pocensee in Champagne, east of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, for his own pleasure. Eugène-Emmée made a fortune in the fur trade in Paris and became well known in social circles, and began brewing champagne to serve his friends. His first vintage was in 1905, and his ideal was a single-varietal, single-harvest year Chardonnay from a single hectare vineyard adjacent to the church in the village of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, a revolutionary concept at the time. Salon is considered to be the first Blanc de Blancs vinified from 100% white grapes.
As demand for Salon grew in the 1920s, grapes were purchased from mid-slope vineyards in the same village of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, and unfortunately the single-vineyard philosophy fell apart, but Eugène-Emmée's ideal was a single-vineyard wine from the same village of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, which would be born in 1979, Krug Clos du Menil. Salon now owns about 20% of its own vineyards, with the remaining 80% coming from other growers in the village of Le Menil sur Auger. The 20 vineyards that supply Salon with its raw materials have remained unchanged since the 1920s, and until Krug acquired the vineyards, the Clos du Menil grapes were also used for Salon.
Today, Salon is part of Laurent-Perrier (located in Tours-sur-Marne), one of the major Champagne houses, and the harvested grapes are pressed and fermented at Laurent-Perrier. According to the Law Concerning the Designation of Origin, only 2,550 liters (L) of juice may be pressed from 4,000 kg of grapes in Champagne. 2,050 L of the first pressing is called Cuvée and 500 L of the second pressing is called Premier Taille, but only Cuvée is used in the Salon. The Cuvée is made in stainless steel tanks. The cuvée undergoes alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel vats, blending, tirage (addition of liqueur for the second fermentation in the bottle), and bottling before being transported to Salon in the village of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Salon produces about 60,000 bottles only in good vintages, so wine from unsuitable harvest years is used by sister winery Delamotte and other brands under the Laurent-Perrier company, or sold in bulk to other producers. In order to make a long-lived Champagne, Salon avoids malolactic fermentation, which converts malic acid to lactic acid, to preserve the rich acidity, and after secondary fermentation in the bottle, the wine is aged sur laat on casks for about 10 years to give it depth.
The current vintage of Salon being shipped now is 2013, and it has only been released 44 times in the 109 years since 1905, the first vintage; looking at the 2000s, Salon was produced in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2008, 2000, and 2003, with only six shipments in 2009,
The difference with Dom Perignon, which was shipped eight times, including 2000, 2003, and 2005, is striking. The fact that Salon was bottled in 2007, generally considered the worst harvest year of the 2000s in Champagne, when Dom Perignon was not shipped, is a manifestation of the local climate, as only Chardonnay from Le Mesnil sur Auger is used.
Salon is made exclusively from white grapes, and because malolactic fermentation, which tempers the acidity, is usually avoided, and because the sugar dosage added during the omission is low at about 5 grams per liter, the wine is very acidic and simple immediately upon release. The wine has undergone 10 years of sur-lat aging, which has resulted in a rich leaching of yeast-derived amino acids into the wine and a savory Maillard reaction flavor that fills the bottle over the first 10 years after shipment. Although the effervescence is somewhat diminished, Salon is a Champagne that should be drunk at least 20 years after harvest, and it becomes complex, reminiscent of acacia honey on toast.