Salon - Salon le Mesnil 1996
Tasting Notes and Scores
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate 30/11/2010 The 1996 Salon is yet another wine that is maturing splendidly. Once focused to the point of being painfully austere and angular, today the 1996 Salon has begun to soften and fill out. My latest bottles have been rich, generous and totally compelling in every way. This bottle of the 1996 Salon is like every other bottle I have had recently, which is to say tight, tight, tight. Still, this painfully unevolved, mineral-driven wine shows tons of potential in its floral, white fruits. In a recent tasting of the 1979 Champagnes, the Salon was one of the finest wines, but it needed several hours of air to open up. Although the 1996 is pure magic in a glass, it remains a wine for the exceedingly patient.
A lemony hue with green tints. A very fine nose that builds in the glass: green apple, touch of mown grass and citrus fruit. Very primordial but great delineation. The palate has lovely balance, less showy than the Salon 1995. Apple, touch of lime and citrus fruits. A little steely on the mid-palate. Superb definition and delineation with that typical zen-like finish which has a touch of fresh grapefruit. This will need at least ten years of bottle maturation, but it will be worth it.
Green-tinged gold. Incredibly complex, intense bouquet of smoky, leesy orange, pear, licorice, minerals and bitter quinine. The superconcentrated citrus, quince and pear liqueur flavors convey an almost painful impression of extract and positively explode across the palate. Elegant, poised and precise in a manner rare for a wine with such flavor intensity. The vibrant, minerally, extremely long finish simply doesn't let up. This should age effortlessly for a decade or two.
There is always something exciting and different when trying the first glass of a new vintage of Salon. There is no other Champagne that is as vivacious and sour, almost painfully fresh and lively. This is about as good as a 1996 gets with a lovely noble class to it. The journey has begun!