Average annual production: 50,000 bottles per vintage
Blend: 100% Chardonnay
One of the world’s best-known Blanc de Blancs, Salon Mesnil was conceived in 1911 by a wealthy gastronomist and Champenois, Eugene-Aime Salon. Production was initially for his own amusement, but in 1921 Eugene was persuaded to produce his first commercially available vintage.
Salon’s death in 1943 saw the baton pass to his niece and thereafter, in 1988, to the Laurent-Perrier Group. Today, Salon is the only Champagne house to produce vintage Blanc de Blancs exclusively. Grapes are sourced from the village of Mesnil along the Cote de Blancs, including the house's own vineyard, the Jardin de Salon. To date, less than 40 vintages have been produced. And with an average production of no more than 60,000 bottles per vintage, the ultra-exclusive cuvee is one of the region’s most expensive exports.
The 1997 vintage
Though the ’96 is admittedly a difficult act to follow, the 1997 vintage of Salon Mesnil did not receive the same sparkling scores as its predecessor. The wine was awarded 91 points from the Wine Spectator and 93 points by Josh Raynolds of Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. Nonetheless, at just 60 per cent of the price of the 1996 (volumes of which are beginning to dwindle) the 1997 may be a judicious buy.
Recent vintages of Salon Mesnil have made strong progress this year. The 1995, 1996 and 1997 have all outperformed the Liv-ex Champagne 25 Index in the year to date, led by the 1996, which has posted a 40 per cent price rise. As a result, the wine is now considerably more expensive than surrounding years and is trading at upwards of £3,000 per 12x75cl case. The 1995 (£2,400 per case) and the 1997 (£1,860) have also upped the pace - though not with the same urgency - and have increased in price by 14 per cent and seven per cent respectively. Both look well priced next to the 1999, which has yet to hit the secondary market, but is available from selected merchants at £250 per bottle.
The chart below compares the price performance of Salon Mesnil 1995, 1996 and 1997 to that of the Liv-ex Champagne 25 Index.