Salon 1996 (Champagne, France)
12%, Cork, $700
Source: A gift glass
I’ve been watching the tweets from the Len Evans tutorial this week (hashtag #LET12), lingering enviously over the pictures of epic, occasionally almost mythical, wines from both Australia and abroad. Why just the other night a 65 Lindemans Hunter River Burgundy made an appearance, one of those wines that is listed amongst the ‘greatest Australian wines ever made’ and is on my ‘must try before I die’ list.
Next year will be my Len Evans tutorial year, surely…
Anyways, this Salon, whilst still a recent release, may one day be considered amongst the greatest Champagnes ever made. Or at least that is what the hype around this wine suggests. Happily, I think the hype might be right too…
Now I can’t claim the credit for this bottle for it was donated by my colleague Angus Hughson. Angus promised to open it us when he passed at least some of his MW exams you see and he negotiated the ‘theory’ section successfully this year and duly popped the cork on this puppy. Thanks again and congratulations Angus.
What sets this wine apart is just how vinous it is. That may seem like an odd thing to say for Champagne, particularly given how much levity is given to the winemaking craft, instead of the grapes themselves, in Champagne production, yet this actually smells like grapes. It smells like Chardonnay grapes, that classic ‘white flower and brioche’ nose of long lees aged Chardonnay based Champagne. Outstanding nose, perfect even.
That perfection is a bit disarming actually, the fragrance showing underlying latent power as well as layers of whipped cream richness (with a little hint of custard) and then more grapey power. I really didn’t expect it to be this pastry-meets-cream meets-acidity-and-they-have-a-beautiful-threesome perfect on the palate either, a wine that is both soft and powerful, the acidity forceful yet entirely balanced and natural. It’s vinous in its acidity again too, grapey even but with yeasty richness. So many layers. Sublime Champagne. Sublime. Yes!
Score: 19.2/20 97/100
Would I buy it? Someone lend me $700 and I would