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Champagne Salon labels 2002 release ‘one of best ever’

Champagne Salon's president has labelled the newly-released 2002 vintage as one of the best in memory, and said he is entirely relaxed about the house not making a vintage since 2008.

Didier Depond (pictured) said Salon has produced only 62,000 bottles of the 2002 vintage, which he described during a launch event in London last week as ‘one of the best vintages we have ever produced in Champagne’.

Some in Champagne have been accused of lavishing too much praise on too many vintages, but Depond does not appear prone to hyperbole. He has refused to make a vintage Champagne from 2009, ’10, ’11 and ’12, ‘because the quality was not at the right level’.

‘Of course this will affect us,’ he said as assembled journalists tasted the 2002 alongside a full English breakfast. ‘I need to manage the financial aspects very clearly.’

Yet, some might argue that Depond and his team have little to worry about, with 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008 vintages still sitting in the cellar.

Small production and tight allocations mean selling Salon has rarely been an issue, and that looks unlikely to change given strong consumer demand for vintage Champagnes already witnessed over the past year, in particular with Krug 2003 and Dom Perignon 2004.

Salon has allocated 2,000 bottles of the 2002 vintage to its UK importer Corney & Barrow, which is selling its stock for £1,325 per six-bottle case.

Depond was unapologetic about the tight allocations. ‘The situation will be the same for the next 20 years, because the volume available is still very small and I don’t want to increase the volume,’ he said.

‘I know for the next 20 years how many bottles I will allocate for each vintage and for each country, and I know how many bottles I will allocate for the UK.’

He compared the 2002 to 1982, an acclaimed vintage in Champagne. ‘It has exactly the same character of wine as the 1982. You can see after 12 years the beautiful colour is still very pale, there is no oxidation, it hasn’t gone gold, it still has a yellow/green colour which is a good sign for the potential of the wine, and there are also very tiny bubbles, which is for me one of the best signs of the quality.

‘For me, the best time to drink this wine will be in five years.’ The price, he added, looks reasonable compared to a first growth Bordeaux or Domaine de la Romanee-Conti wine.

The 2002 is the 38th vintage that Salon has released in its 100-year history. It is produced entirely from Chardonnay and is from a single cru in the Champagne region – vineyards surrounding Le Mesnil-sur-Oger.

Written by Chris Mercer & Georgina Hindle

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