The 2004 Salon has been superb each time I have tasted it over the last year or so. Bright, tense and crystalline, with all of the energy that is typical of both Salon and the vintage in the Côte des Blancs, the 2004 bristles with superb precision and cool, pulsating minerality. The 2004 spent a dozen years on its lees. Over the last six months or so, it has gradually begun to open up, but it is very much a wine for the cellar. Two thousand four is remembered as a vintage with record high yields. Salon (and Delamotte) did a terrific job in keeping the vines well balanced. Production was just 46,000 bottles, as opposed to the 60,000 or so that is more typical. Chef de Caves Michel Fauconnet opted for a low dosage of just 4 grams per liter. This is a tremendous showing.
Anticipated maturity: 2019-2044
Just released. Twinkly-eyed Didier Depond, p resident of Champagne Salon and in his 20th year at the company, explains that the heatwave conditions of 2003 had a significant influence on 2004: low ground water meant warmer soils, promoting growth and minimising disease. Abundant fruit set so that they took the unusual step of carrying out a green harvest. A cool August prolonged the ripening season, then September was fine for the harvest. As always, 100% Chardonnay from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, aged at least 10 years on the lees. Disgorged autumn 2015 with a dosage of 5-6 g/l. Incidentally, importers Corney & Barrow suggest drink dates from now to 2050+, and tasting the older wines in this line-up, I can see it will continue a lot longer than I have suggested but it does turn into a very different drink. Very refined light lemony nose with a slightly dusty character, almost like sherbet but not sweet. Biscuity note softens the really crisp and elegant lemon flavour. Tiny bubbles, and smoothed by the creamy lees texture. Very youthful and so tight. So light on its feet but incredibly long. (JH)
Anticipated maturity: 2016-2028