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Champagne Salon 1999 launched with fish ‘n’ chips

Champagne Salon has launched its 1999 vintage with a fish and chip lunch in London’s Notting Hill.

The ultra-exclusive Salon, of which there have been only 37 vintages since its founding in 1905, was launched today at Geales fish restaurant with a traditional British lunch of battered haddock and chips with mushy peas and tartare sauce.

Didier Depond, winemaker and president of Salon described 1999 as a ‘mature, rich and abundant’ year, and the wine as ‘sophisticated’ and ‘tamed’.

London-based journalists and critics, tasting the £200 wine, found it variously ‘opulent, with flavours of brioche, white bread, white flowers, earth and delicate yeast flavours.’

While importers Corney & Barrow suggest the wine can be drunk from ‘now until 2050’, with magnums set to last until 2060, Depond said for him it was too young, and would not be ready for five to 10 years.

Salon is made only from Chardonnay from 19 vineyards in Le Mesnil and is matured for at least 10 years in bottle. The 1999 was bottled in 2000 and will be disgorged in batches of 2000 bottles every six months. A total of 50,000 bottles are produced.

Vinification is entirely in stainless steel – introduced 40 years ago, the last innovation to be made at Salon – and there is no malolactic fermentation.

The dosage is a bone-dry five grams per litre of residual sugar. The Mesnil sur Oger terroir is characterised by thin topsoil, with the vines are rooted in deep chalk, ‘which accounts for the minerality,’ Depond said.

The next vintages of Salon to be released will be the 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008. The last, Depond says, is possibly ‘the finest Salon he has ever tasted.’

As for the fish and chip match – the brainchild of Corneys Champagne buyer Rebecca Palmer – Depond was delighted.

‘It’s the first time I have ever had Salon with haddock and chips,’ he said. ‘For me the match is perfect.’ The creamy mousse and opulent minerality of the wine did indeed cut through the batter and robust, perfectly-cooked fish, was the general opinion.

Salon 1999 is available exclusively at Corney & Barrow, at £950 in bond per case of six bottles. Single bottles will be available from 1 May at £213.59 retail.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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