Recently acquired at a very fair price from a semi-retired acquaintance who was long in the wine business. I thank him for his generosity and this opportunity to taste not only my first Salon, but also the oldest champagne and the oldest chardonnay-based wine I have ever consumed.
The fill level was about a half-inch below the bottom of the cork, which was in exquisite condition and was easily extracted. The wine was medium yellow gold with a slight copper tint and ample bubbles (very small beads). Upon first sniff, I was a little worried (musty nuts, a little sherry, some wintergreen, a little citrus and earth). Although to some degree the flavors mirrored the nose, there was plenty of acidity and structure left to tie everything together with very long and layered relatively fresh flavors. While I think I would have liked this even more five to ten years ago, this was a very memorable experience. I suspect the 1985 or the 1988 Salon would take me to the very highest level in the world of bubbles. Hope to find out some time in the relatively near future.
This tends to be typical of aged Salon. It picks up an oxidized character by 20 years old. I enjoy it immensely, but I could see how some may not like it. The 1988 that I had about 6 months ago was fantastic with only slight signs of the sherry/oxidized character.
Even with stellar provenance, older bottles of Salon seem to have more bottle to bottle variation than other top cuvees. Bottles from the '60’s can still come across as adolescent while bottles from the '80s can be long in the tooth. Go figure.
In terms of '79, bottles of Krug (Vintage, Collection, CdC) seem to be far more consistent than Salon. Even CdC (another BdB which can have a bit of bottle variation) seems more consistent in this great vintage.
I’ve experienced the oxidative profile you describe more often in other Salon vintages, particularly '90. A recent bottle of '79 was still a baby, quite primary in profile. With older Salon, you pays your money and you takes your chances.
All that having been said, when a bottle of older Salon is on its game, it is profound.