Salon Blanc de Blancs Le Mesnil-sur-Oger 1999
Vintage Sparkling Wine from Champagne, France
A very pale yellow with barely green hints and a lively but discreet nose, the 1999 Salon has a youthful grace that captures the palate, firm and textured. Brioche, white bread, white blossom, white fruit and bitter almond flavors are still developing. The middle palate is crystalline and it has a lingering finish with hints of citrus.
Wine & Spirits - "As it turns 15, this wine still has youthful notes of chamomile and meadow flowers. Its flavor intensity, a force of nature pitting those vibrant, sunny floral notes against a resonant limestone earth tone, is something that could only have been achieved through all those years in bottle. While the mousse is persistent and as fine as a mist, the flavors are vinous, suggesting you serve this wine as you would a Corton-Charlemagne: with something equally luscious and rich, like seared scallops over truffled mashed potatoes. "
The Wine Advocate - "The Salon 1999 Brut Le Mesnil – disgorged already in 2011 and dosed with a pretty typical six grams of residual sugar – displays faintly fusil and quarry dust notes as well as hickory nut, almond, walnut and toasted wheat piquancy on the nose. Polished and subtly creamy in texture yet brightly juicy with apple and lemon, this displays an uncanny sense of lift and refinement, perfectly complementing the honeysuckle and heliotrope perfume that waft inner-mouth. You could lose yourself in the ineffability of this wine’s floral diversity and in its resonantly nut and grain low tones. Hints of apple pip lend subtle additional piquancy on a long and at once soothing as well as stimulating finish, with suggestions of oyster liquor becoming prominent as the bottle stands open for a few minutes, and serving to milk the salivary glands for all that they are worth. Follow this for at least a decade. "
Wine Spectator - "There's a sense of finesse to this sleek, elegant Champagne, which has a creamy texture and seamlessly integrated structure, offering subtly layered flavors of ripe white peach, black raspberry fruit, lemon meringue pie, pickled ginger and blanched almond. Drink now through 2028."
International Wine Cellar - "Bright yellow-gold. Deeply pitched, pungent aromas of candied lemon, pear skin, anise, buttered toast and smoky lees, with notes of ginger and white flowers adding lift. Densely packed yet vibrant, showing impressive power and clarity to its mineral-accented citrus and orchard fruit flavors. Expands on the finish but maintains its focus, picking up iodine and bitter lime notes that linger impressively. A more vibrant rendition of Salon than the 1997 version, but with a bit less concentration than the 1996. This should be a slow ager."
Vinous / Antonio Galloni - "The 1999 Brut Blanc de Blancs is impenetrable. This is a massive, full-bodied Salon that totally saturates the palate with fruit. Neither as austere or pointed as the 1996, nor as open as the 1997, instead the 1999 comes across as big, rich and powerful. There is little in the way of flavor or aromatic development, and it may be some time before any real complexity develops in bottle. Today it looks like the wine's best days are well off into the future. 94+"
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Situated in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger in the Côte des Blancs, the House of Salon produces only one Champagne, the Cuvée "S". This Champagne comes from a 2.5-acre vineyard owned by Salon (Le Jardin de Salon, or "Salon's Garden") and from 19 smaller parcels representing 22.5 acres of vineyards in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, all chosen by founder Eugène-Aimé Salon early in the 20th century. There have been no changes to the methods and principles of making Champagne Salon that he laid down over a century ago, and that is certainly a testament to Salon's judgment and discrimination.
About ChampagneView a map of Champagne wineries Champagne is both a region and a method. The wines come from the northernmost vineyards in France and the name conjures an image like no other can. An 18th Century Benedictine monk named Dom Perignon is said to be the first to blend both varietals and vintages, making good wines not only great, but also special and unique to their winemaker. Today, nearly 75% of Champagne produced is non-vintage and made up by a blend of several years' harvests.
All Champagnes must be made by a strictly controlled process called "Méthode Champenoise." The grapes are pressed and fermented for the first time. The blending phase follows and the wine is bottled and temporarily capped. Then comes the second fermentation, a blend of sugar and yeast is added and, this time, the carbon dioxide is kept inside the bottle. This process leaves a great deal of sediment that is extracted through a process of "racking" or "riddling." The bottles are progressively turned upside down until all the sediment is collected in the neck. The necks are then frozen and the sediment is "disgorged." After this phase, the winemaker may decide to add sugar to sweeten the wine. Finally the wine is corked. Some wines move through this process in a couple of months, while others are aged after the riddling phase to build greater complexity and depth.
Champagnes range from dry, "Brut," to slightly sweet, "Demi-Sec." Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are used in Champagne blends, but "Blancs de Noirs" is made entirely of Pinot Noir and "Blancs de Blanc" is made from only Chardonnay grapes. The high acidity achieved by the northern location is crucial to the balance and structure of these wines.
Not every year is a "vintage" declared. In years when it is not, the wines are blended with the produce from other years to create the non-vintage blend, the house style that remains constant from year to year. But in a great vintage year, champagne houses will bottle by itself the unblended year's produce, and use other portions as "reserve" wines to supplement and enrich the non-vintage blend. A vintage champagne can age quite gracefully, and gain complexity just like any other great still wine.
Mild cheeses like gruyere and shellfish pair nicely with Champagne. Also, oysters and Champagne is a popular combination. A full-flavored vintage Champagne can go with almost any meal.
About France - Other regionsWhen it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
- Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
- Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
- Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.
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