Robert Parker 99
This bottle of the 1996 Blanc de Blancs Le Mesnil Brut was drinking superbly and represents the apotheosis of Blanc de Blancs, unfurling over the course of three hours with a stunningly complex bouquet of citrus oil, confit lemon, dried white flowers and oyster shell, with hints of praline and pastry cream becoming more pronounced as the wine opens up in the glass. On the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, deep and multidimensional, defined by the incisive spine so typical of the vintage that, here, is cloaked in layers of crisp fleshy and chalky extract. The finish is long, penetrating and saline. Unfortunately, since the 1996 Salon has been traded so zealously over the last decade, finding a bottle that hasn’t travelled too far can be a challenge. But from a perfectly stored bottle, this is just the beginning.
Anticipated maturity: 2019-2035
The 1996 Salon is just dazzling. It needs a good bit of air to fully open up, but the 1996 Salon is simply a mesmerizing Champagne that sizzles with energy, cut and total precision. A second bottle later in the week was every bit as compelling. When the 1996 Salon is on, it is just about as great as Champagne gets.
Anticipated maturity: 2017-2037
Very tight little bead. Mid straw. Very distinctive. Very tightly wound. Introspective. Almost nervous but admirable. A bit like a hugely respected but utterly un-attention-seeking academic. Wonderful texture. Then opens out on the palate. Very firm. Mineral rather than fruit or veg or breadiness.
Anticipated maturity: 2015-2030