Fine wine can be intimidating. And while there are some estates that are virtually household names – Château Lafite, Château Petrus, Dom Pérignon – there are others that live life under the radar, as secrets of the wine trade.
We recently paid a visit to one such secret, our producer partners, Maisons Salon & Delamotte. Hailed the ultimate champagnes of wine connoisseurs, our visit reminded us why Salon is one of the most iconic wines in the world, but also why its distribution is so strictly limited. Salon’s 1.17-hectare clos of Chardonnay vines, and cellars with tiny quantities of sleeping bottles awaiting late disgorgement more resemble the size and philosophy of a Burgundy domain than a typical Champagne House.
For those not yet familiar with Salon or Delamotte, we offer a little background below.
History – the birth of a visionary
In 1905, Eugène-Aimé Salon embarked on creating a champagne that would embody his ideals of elegance, finesse, and purity. He envisioned a champagne crafted from the finest Chardonnay grapes, meticulously grown in the esteemed terroir of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, a commune nestled in the Côte des Blancs, the heart of Champagne.
Salon’s vision was groundbreaking at the time, as most champagne producers blended wines from multiple grape varieties, vineyards, and vintages. Unlike his contemporaries, Eugène-Aimé believed that a champagne’s true character could only be expressed when it reflected the unique characteristics of a single variety, terroir, and vintage. Thus, he became the pioneer of the Blanc de Blancs style.
Legacy – a commitment to quality
Thanks to Eugène-Aimé’s vision and foundations, Champagne Salon has maintained a discreet but highly regarded reputation over the years. Its commitment to excellence is evident in the mere 37 vintages declared throughout the 20th Century, representing only the very best years of production.
Such selectivity has arguably made Salon the rarest, most sought-after champagne in the world. While more accessible in terms of price and availability, its younger sibling, Delamotte, benefits from the same cachet and winemaking care. Indeed, the grapes from vintages wherein Salon is not declared may be used to produce Champagne Delamotte.
Last month’s visit and tasting reinforced our admiration for these wines which, if we may be so bold, speak to our Swiss nature as the picture of discretion, precision, and uncompromising quality.