salon, le mesnil-sur-oger grand cru 1996
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
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.
A warm, even hot, spring with no real change during the summer, conditions that allowed the grapes to gorge themselves on sugar while preserving good acidity. Harvest began on 23 September. Hazelnut, spices, flowers form part of the remarkable aromatic complexity of this Champagne that also has also remarkable depth of character. Perhaps the most impressive Salon of the tasting. On the palate, a sensation of flesh and opulence, but also the telltale precision and erect backbone of racy acidity, and an enthralling finish ending on a refreshing note of salinity. A truly great Salon that leaves one speechless.
The fabled Salon's latest release is much riper and softer than the great steely 1996 vintage. This suggests it is likely to be ready to drink soon. In the meantime, the acidity is supremely fresh, with grapefruit edges and green apple flavors. And then there is minerality and a tight, structured aftertaste as a reminder that this great Champagne is always going to be more than its fruit.
A deep, vinous style, with understated power and grace. The lemon verbena, toast and honey aromas and flavors are propelled by the well-integrated structure and fine bubbles. There's just a hint of greenness, marking its youthful impetuosity. Has great length. Best from 2010 through 2030.