By Mary Mullaj
Salon Champagne, part of the Laurent-Perrier group, is one of the most expensive in the world, and by many it is also considered to be the best. Eugène Aimé Salon first began making the bubby as a cuvée that he shared privately with friends. The tradition continues today, and the critically acclaimed champagne is still produced in commune of Le Mesnil sur Oger, a Grand cru rated vineyard area.
The Champagne’s production is carefully limited. It is only released under the Salon name in exceptional years, resulting in just 37 vintages in the past century. What’s more, no more than 60,000 bottles are produced in each vintage. Right now the vintages from 1997, 1999, 2002, and 2004 can be found maturing in the Salon caves.
Made in the blanc de blanc style of 100% Chardonnay grapes, the wine is fermented in stainless steel and then aged in the bottle, resulting in a Champagne that is elegant and refined. Of the 1997 vintage, Bruce Sanderson of Wine Spectator proclaims “subtle ginger, floral, and citrus aromas” that “build to flavors of lemon pie, honey, and hazelnut.” He praises its “firm underlying structure and long aftertaste.”
Salon was not always the most expensive Champagne on the market. Usually Champagne is considered one of the few products sold solely on brand image, but in the case of Salon the price was recently raised to reflect the quality. This adjustment might have been prompted in part by a 1998 event, when a bottle of 1959 vintage was released to auction at Christie’s, and fetched more than five times its estimated amount.