TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

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A. So
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TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#1 Post by A. So » September 20th, 2019, 8:13 am

  • 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut - France, Champagne (9/19/2019)
    It's been eight years since I've had this and boy has it developed into something really, really good. Just incredibly intense and powerful, tons of chalk, lots of fruit, so balanced with the acidity and minerality. There's still some effervescence that's there, but it's certainly not the star of the show. The fruit here is layered and complex, rich and dense, with a sappiness that isn't overbearing, and there's really no way to see how this could be better. For my palate, this is at peak now and while there's no risk of this fading in the next few years, I'm going to be super happy opening more of these soon. (93+ pts.)

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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#2 Post by Doug Schulman » September 20th, 2019, 10:27 am

I mentioned in the thread on the 2008 that I tried a bottle of '96 recently that was extremely disappointing. We tried it later in the evening hoping a little air would help, and it hadn't. We had several better Champagnes on hand (all significantly less expensive) and literally dumped half of the Salon down the drain. Could different disgorgement dates really explain such variability, or might there be some other cause?
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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#3 Post by Jayson Cohen » September 20th, 2019, 11:24 am

93+?!! Wow!!

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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#4 Post by Pat Esposito » September 20th, 2019, 11:30 am

Doug Schulman wrote:
September 20th, 2019, 10:27 am
I mentioned in the thread on the 2008 that I tried a bottle of '96 recently that was extremely disappointing. We tried it later in the evening hoping a little air would help, and it hadn't. We had several better Champagnes on hand (all significantly less expensive) and literally dumped half of the Salon down the drain. Could different disgorgement dates really explain such variability, or might there be some other cause?
Sad to hear, as we did a tasting of '95, '96, and '99 a few months back, and the '96 was the clear winner and may be the best champagne I've had (though I'm no expert). It was the most youthful and balanced of the 3, with excellent but not overwhelming acidity, and long finish. The '99 was consensus 2nd best of the 3.

I cannot say what the disgorgement date on the '96 was.

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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#5 Post by Otto Dobre » September 20th, 2019, 11:31 am

The 1996 Salon is probably the best Champagne that I've ever tasted, thanks to Jeff Nowak. The wine was very delicate, but it tasted like an elixir of the gods. Never had it since then, and maybe that is a good thing.

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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#6 Post by R@y.Tupp@+sch » September 20th, 2019, 11:32 am

Doug Schulman wrote:
September 20th, 2019, 10:27 am
I mentioned in the thread on the 2008 that I tried a bottle of '96 recently that was extremely disappointing. We tried it later in the evening hoping a little air would help, and it hadn't. We had several better Champagnes on hand (all significantly less expensive) and literally dumped half of the Salon down the drain. Could different disgorgement dates really explain such variability, or might there be some other cause?
In my experience there is a fair amount of variation in '96 Salon, most likely due to so many different disgorgements.
That said, I've never had a bottle that wasn't corked which warranted pouring down the drain.
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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#7 Post by Brad England » September 20th, 2019, 11:39 am

Agree with the OP. These have been very good, and for me, very consistent. We drink it somewhat regularly and it rarely (if ever?) disappoints. Doug, my guess is your bottle was a bad bottle due to storage or some other random reason. The champagne has been extremely consistent for me. It's my wife's favorite wine, so let's hope my remaining 99 bottles keep performing.
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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#8 Post by Brad England » September 20th, 2019, 11:43 am

Just curious, why the 100 points on CT and 93+ here. On Berserkers do you use your anti-Suckling persona?
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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#9 Post by Doug Schulman » September 20th, 2019, 11:51 am

Brad England wrote:
September 20th, 2019, 11:39 am
Agree with the OP. These have been very good, and for me, very consistent. We drink it somewhat regularly and it rarely (if ever?) disappoints. Doug, my guess is your bottle was a bad bottle due to storage or some other random reason. The champagne has been extremely consistent for me. It's my wife's favorite wine, so let's hope my remaining 99 bottles keep performing.
Knowing where it came from, and with no sign of oxidation or heat damage, I am confident that storage was not the issue, nor cork failure.
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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#10 Post by B. Buzzini » September 20th, 2019, 12:04 pm

Brad England wrote:
September 20th, 2019, 11:39 am
let's hope my remaining 99 bottles keep performing.
[shock.gif]
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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#11 Post by Robert Love » September 20th, 2019, 12:07 pm

I've been lucky enough to enjoy several bottles and can easily say that 1996 Salon is the finest bottle of Champagne I've ever enjoyed.

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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#12 Post by Scott Brunson » September 20th, 2019, 3:43 pm

My fave Champagne ever.
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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#13 Post by Nathan Smyth » September 20th, 2019, 6:37 pm

Doug Schulman wrote:
September 20th, 2019, 10:27 am
...literally dumped half of the Salon down the drain. Could different disgorgement dates really explain such variability, or might there be some other cause?
In that general era, there were some terrible problems with heat-damaged champagne, at least on the East Coast of the U.S.

For a few years there, we were plagued with undrinkably rancid Salons, from at least the 1988 vintage on through to the first few vintages of the 1990s.

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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#14 Post by Craig G » September 20th, 2019, 6:48 pm

Brad England wrote:
September 20th, 2019, 11:43 am
Just curious, why the 100 points on CT and 93+ here. On Berserkers do you use your anti-Suckling persona?
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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#15 Post by R@y.Tupp@+sch » September 20th, 2019, 6:58 pm

Nathan Smyth wrote:
September 20th, 2019, 6:37 pm

In that general era, there were some terrible problems with heat-damaged champagne, at least on the East Coast of the U.S.

For a few years there, we were plagued with undrinkably rancid Salons, from at least the 1988 vintage on through to the first few vintages of the 1990s.
The first vintages for Salon in the '90's were 1990, 1995 and 1996. While the '90 may have had some transportation issues, I don't think that was much of an issue for '95 and forward.
Salon's issues from 1982-1990 were not so much from transportation, but problems in the cellar. I've had a number of advanced bottles from those "problem" vintages in Europe, including France.
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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#16 Post by Doug Schulman » September 21st, 2019, 6:54 am

Nathan Smyth wrote:
September 20th, 2019, 6:37 pm
Doug Schulman wrote:
September 20th, 2019, 10:27 am
...literally dumped half of the Salon down the drain. Could different disgorgement dates really explain such variability, or might there be some other cause?
In that general era, there were some terrible problems with heat-damaged champagne, at least on the East Coast of the U.S.

For a few years there, we were plagued with undrinkably rancid Salons, from at least the 1988 vintage on through to the first few vintages of the 1990s.
I have heard that, but none of us thought there was any sign of heat damage. Color was quite pale and there were no cooked or oxidized notes. It was super fresh and youthful feeling, just extremely one dimensional. Do you think heat damage could do that? I've heard about the problems you're talking about, but it seems like people knew it was heat damage when they tasted the wines.
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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#17 Post by Kirk.Grant » September 22nd, 2019, 6:52 am

Doug Schulman wrote:
September 21st, 2019, 6:54 am
Nathan Smyth wrote:
September 20th, 2019, 6:37 pm
Doug Schulman wrote:
September 20th, 2019, 10:27 am
...literally dumped half of the Salon down the drain. Could different disgorgement dates really explain such variability, or might there be some other cause?
In that general era, there were some terrible problems with heat-damaged champagne, at least on the East Coast of the U.S.

For a few years there, we were plagued with undrinkably rancid Salons, from at least the 1988 vintage on through to the first few vintages of the 1990s.
I have heard that, but none of us thought there was any sign of heat damage. Color was quite pale and there were no cooked or oxidized notes. It was super fresh and youthful feeling, just extremely one dimensional. Do you think heat damage could do that? I've heard about the problems you're talking about, but it seems like people knew it was heat damage when they tasted the wines.
I have to agree with Doug...it wasn't cooked, it did taste aged, but just "very good". I bought the bottle from a wine shop that has a temp & humidity controlled walk-in room. So storage was not the issue. It's been in there since winter of 2010 since the store got their allocation (things show up a little later here in Maine). In some ways it kind of reminded me of the 1996 Pol Roger SWC that I opened in June at the Patty Green Vertical. There was nothing wrong with it, it just wasn't much more than very good Champagne.
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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#18 Post by Kelly Walker » September 22nd, 2019, 7:19 am

Have had many bottles of the '96. All great, worth every one of So's 93 pts. Seems rather polarizing though. Could it be just a stylistic issue? I know a number of champagne savvy people who just do not care for Salon.
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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#19 Post by Nathan Smyth » September 22nd, 2019, 10:50 am

Kirk.Grant wrote:
September 22nd, 2019, 6:52 am
I bought the bottle from a wine shop that has a temp & humidity controlled walk-in room. So storage was not the issue. It's been in there since winter of 2010 since the store got their allocation (things show up a little later here in Maine).
Setting aside the question of whether or not you like the house style, the problem for Salon [and many other champagnes of that era] was not generally at the retail end - it was at the distributor [and probably the importer] end of things - either shipping containers which were not reefer-ized or warehouses which lacked climate control.

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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#20 Post by Nathan Smyth » September 22nd, 2019, 10:53 am

[Parenthetically, maybe I should add that, to their credit, most of the importers & distributors seem to have really gotten their act together in the last 10 years or so - it's been forever since I've crossed paths with an obviously heat damaged wine down here in the Sun Belt.]

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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#21 Post by Jeremy Holmes » September 23rd, 2019, 2:10 am

Had a bit of bottle variation in the early days with the '96 Salon, but the last half a dozen or so have been nothing short of splendid. One of my favourite Champagnes of all time.
Last edited by Jeremy Holmes on September 24th, 2019, 8:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#22 Post by Doug Schulman » September 23rd, 2019, 5:31 pm

Kelly Walker wrote:
September 22nd, 2019, 7:19 am
Have had many bottles of the '96. All great, worth every one of So's 93 pts. Seems rather polarizing though. Could it be just a stylistic issue? I know a number of champagne savvy people who just do not care for Salon.
I had a 1997 a few years ago that I thought was far better than this ‘96. I also love Comtes and Peters Chetillons, as does Kirk, but I haven’t had enough Salon to know how the styles compare. Still, the ‘96 shouldn’t be far inferior to the ‘97, should it?
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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#23 Post by Jeremy Holmes » September 23rd, 2019, 11:54 pm

Hi Doug,

The '97 Salon is an excellent '97, but not a patch on the '96.

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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#24 Post by Mark Golodetz » September 24th, 2019, 6:50 am

I had a couple of duff bottles of 1996, but when it is on, it is glorious. Actually the percentage of bad bottles is the worst of any Champagne I have had. Anecdotal of course, I would hope that the magnum of 2008 is a little more consistent.
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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#25 Post by Blake Brown » September 24th, 2019, 7:19 am

Happy you had a great bottle.

Love the 96` Salon and evidently have had good fortune in opening only stellar bottles, early on and more recently. Over 5 years ago, I held a Grandes Marques champagne event and we had 2 of them in addition to many other great ones including DPs, CdCs, Krugs, SWCs and on, most from great vintages. Both Salon`s were hands down the co-WOTN.
Got 2 more in the cellar stash and salivating thinking of them.
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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#26 Post by RyanC » September 24th, 2019, 7:43 am

'96 Salon is my favorite Champagne ever. And I generally find Salon overpriced and overrated.
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Re: TN: 1996 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (France, Champagne)

#27 Post by dcornutt » September 24th, 2019, 3:29 pm

This is the best to me. I like Salon. I LOVE the 96 Salon. It is so complex and fresh.
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