In Pursuit of Bubbly Bliss

    The House of Salon began in the late 19th century when its founder, Eugene-Aime Salon, set out to realize his dream of making “the perfect Champagne.”

     At that time, Champagne was produced from a blend of 75 percent black grapes (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) and 25 percent white grapes(Chardonnay).

     Aime felt that black grapes added a cumbersome heaviness to Champagne, but were necessary according to conventional wisdom to add body and structure to the wine. He also believed that he could achieve this structure by carefully selecting the finest Chardonnay grapes that produced the world’s greatest still wines.

     To realize his goal of making the best possible Champagne, Amie knew he had to find the best area, the best vineyards in the area, the best grapes in those vineyards – and to use only the best juice in the ripest years.

     He enlisted the support of his brother-in-law (a cellarmaster), and together they began experimenting with Chardonnay grapes from many villages in the Champagne region.

     They ultimately chose Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, a small village south of Epernay in the Cote des Blancs. Aime purchased approximately 12 acres of Grand Cru vineyards and entered into long-term contracts with nearby growers for additional grapes. He selected vineyards from three distinct microclimates, which together provided the fruit, acid, sugar, perfumed nose and exquisite balance he was seeking.

     By the early 1900s, Aime had created, for his own consumption, what was simply known as a Blanc de Blancs (“white from whites”). When World War I ended, he was encouraged by friends to profit more fully from his wine, and in 1921 the House of Salon was created.

     The House was headed by Aime until his death in 1943, when the enterprise was left to his nephew. It was bought by Dubonnet-Cinzano in 1963, which was absorbed into the Pernod-Ricard group in 1978. In 1988, Champagne Laurent-Perrier became the majority shareholder of Champagne Salon.

     Today, the House of Salon is directed by Didier Depond, who still crafts Salon out of Chardonnay grapes from the same vineyards and in the same proportions determined by Aime Salon early in the 20th century.

     It is a measure of Depond’s judgment and discrimination that there have been no changes in the methods or principles of making Champagne Salon that Aime laid down so long ago.

Posted in Wineries of Distinction
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