2006 Salon Le Mesnil – One of the Greatest Salon Champagnes Ever Bottled

Salon 2006 – “Recalls the 2002”

2006 Salon – Greatest Ever?

While visiting the cellars at Salon a few years back, tasting back vintages, marveling at the precision and glorious collection in their frigid underground caves, Didier Depond made a point of showing us the quietly resting collection of soon to be released vintages. Before anyone else in the world would ever taste a single bottle, I had my first glimpse of those treasures to come: 2004, 2006, 2008…

Remember the 2004; the amazing bottles released last year? That cuvee spent an unheard-of 12 years resting on its fine lees. While other “fine” Champagne houses were celebrating the release of their 2008s, Salon was patiently awaiting perfection. Time stands still in the Salon cellars; no man was going to rush the strikingly pure 2004 to market.

It was incredible, was it not?

Friends, that was only a tease – a tiny precursor of the 2006. Didier spoke of 2006 while I savored one of the most glorious wines I have encountered in my life: the 1988 Salon (a wine requiring reverence, as well as an entirely new method of scoring wines – 100 points won’t cover it).

The cuvee now available for you – this Grand Vin with bubbles known as the 2006 Salon – will ease the memories of the 2004 right out of your prefrontal cortex. You will taste it and – if you are able to recall the perfection of its glorious sibling, the 2002 – you will be whisked away to nirvana.

Indeed, 2006 is easily the new 2002.

It may – in time – become my new 1988!

Here’s what Mr. Galloni had to say,

Salon 2006 Salon Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Champagne

The 2006 Salon is a very rich wine, almost uncharacteristically so. Deep and exotic the 2006 exudes richness in all of its dimensions, with myriad inflections of sumptuous fruit that fill out its ample, large-scaled frame. Today, the 2006 is surprisingly accessible for a young Salon, but it needs time to shed some baby fat. At times, the 2006 recalls the 2002, but it appears to have more phenolic intensity and overall structure. Even with all of its flamboyance and pure volume, the 2006 retains quite a bit of energy and freshness. I imagine it will be a fascinating, utterly compelling Champagne to follow over the next several decades.

97 points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous

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Bollinger Special Cuvée – ‘Lily’ Would Be Quite Pleased

Lily in Her Vineyards in the 1940s, Protecting, Promoting, Perfecting.

     Lily in Her Vineyards in the 1940s, Protecting, Promoting, Perfecting.

There are Grandes Marques, “Mini-Marques”, and then there are the TRULY grande marques. Bollinger is so grande (so important) that the most famous quotes on Champagne are attributed to its most endearing owner. Lily Bollinger was not only the most important character in the story of Bollinger, she remains its most charismatic.

The technical side of Bollinger – the unmatched level of investment in every bottle produced – is every bit as important as Lily’s story. Stepping into the cellars of Bollinger will take your breath away. Imagine the greatest collection of Champagne you could ever hope to personally witness in one place. Imagine magnums of the most pristine, Grand Cru Champagne – bottled under cork – resting there before your eyes. How many bottles would it take for you to think, “Holy bubbles, Batman, that’s a LOT of Champagne”?

In the cellars of Bollinger rests 600,000 magnums (100,000 cases) of Champagne reserves. It is this massive – truly mind boggling – stash of reserves which contributes to the unmatched quality and consistency of the Bollinger Special Cuvée. The master blending performed which results in the richness, the depth and full body we love in Bollinger includes 50% of these reserve wines, some of which are up to 15 years of age. This Bollinger Special Cuvée you’re buying today contains a healthy percentage of reserve wine from the vintage of 2000.

Moreover, in keeping with the historical Bollinger tradition and winemaking style – the style Lily championed across Europe – the Special Cuvée is vinified in seasoned oak barrels of varying size, shape and age. This barrel vinification is followed by another 3 years of aging on the fine lees, a process absolutely unmatched across the region. It’s a time consuming, laborious, expensive process that’s driven by passion; as only Lily Bollinger would have had it.

Lily took over the estate upon her husband’s passing in 1941 and is celebrated for greatly expanding the estate’s vineyard holdings as well as the soaring popularity during her time as Director and beyond. Recalling her arrival to London to declare her 1955 vintage, a reporter made public Lily Bollinger’s reply when asked how much she enjoyed her own product. I think of it every day, or least every day I have a bottle of Bollinger:

“I drink my Champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty”. — Elizabeth ‘Lily’ Law de Lauriston Boubers Bollinger

One of the finest Bollinger Special Cuvée bottlings to date.

One of the finest Bollinger Special Cuvée bottlings to date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve got mine, and I know where the best price in the States may be had.

2004 Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blanc – A “Visceral Thrill”

 

One of the first lessons we connoisseurs of the really good stuff figure out is “the French keep the good stuff for themselves.”

So it is with Champagne Ruinart, named in honor of the Benedictine Monk, Dom Ruinart – the bulk of their production is still sold mostly in France. Precisely why I attempt to squirrel away a few precious bottles of the 2004 Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blanc whenever possible.

Established in 1729 with the inimitable declaration,

“In the name of God and the Saint Virgin shall this book be commenced”

Ruinart was the First Champagne House the world had ever known. The firm survived and even flourished through the upheavals of the Revolution, the Empire and the Restoration, celebrating successes in America, making an indelible impression on President Jackson in 1827.

This is a Blanc de Blanc truly without comparison in the ranks of the Grande Marques; produced entirely in steel, full malo, a significant holding on the Montagne de Reims. Time in bottle broadens this vinous treasure, today the 2004 is far superior when compared to my notes from last year.

Galloni – perhaps this nation’s greatest taster of Champagne – fawned over it,

“…viscerally thrilling…exceptionally beautiful…”ruinart-ii