Right in the epicenter of Champagne’s Côte des Blancs, the chalky coast known for its mineral, vibrantly tense, and enormously age-worthy Chardonnay, you can find one of the most sought-after champagne houses on the road of the most prestigious Grand Cru villages: Champagne Salon.
The story of Champagne Salon starts with Eugène-Aimé Salon, born at the foot of the Côte des Blancs in 1867, who left his family’s farm in Champagne and moved to Paris in pursuit of a commercial career and a more glamorous existence than the rural life as a Champenois promised at this time. Choosing the life of a businessman and metropolitan, he started to work for the furrier Chapal in Montreuil and merrily plunged into the exciting social life Paris had to offer.
His high ambitions quickly earned him more responsibilities and led him where he desired to be. In charge of the company’s expansion and strategy, he traveled between the most vibrant marketplaces, such as London and New York, to grow the business. As a sophisticated bon vivant with a taste for the finer things in life, Eugène-Aimé Salon enjoyed gathering with like-minded people along the way and quickly became a shining name in the high society establishment of Paris and New York, where he made many influential friends.
However, Eugène-Aimé Salon never forgot where he came from and always kept his passion for the sparkling wines of Champagne, enthusiastically introducing and initiating his friends to the world of noble bubbles. He enjoyed serving champagne alongside the finest gourmet cuisine, another of his many fields of interest, yet his fastidious taste was never fully satisfied with the blends of different grape varieties. Instead, he dreamed of making his own cuvée, an unblended wine with more precision, elegance, and finesse – something that did not yet exist.
With a good dose of visionary thinking and the support of his brother-in-law – luckily an experienced cellar master in Champagne – Eugène-Aimé Salon ultimately set out to create what he had always imagined. Striving to make wines with high aging potential, he sought out the terroir of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger for its remarkable balance between sugar levels and acidity and bought a one-hectare plot right above the village’s little church, as well as 19 other tiny parcels in the village.
Against all prevalent wine-making practices of the region, Eugène-Aimé Salon courageously created his own interpretation of a fully unblended champagne: made from Chardonnay only, grown on a single terroir and within the borders of a single cru, and carrying the expression of a single vintage.
Little did he know that what he named Blanc de Blancs would become the most sought-after champagne category in the future, or that his champagne would one day decorate nearly all prestigious wine collections across the globe.
The first millésime of Eugène-Aimé Salon’s special “Cuvée S.” intended for personal consumption was harvested in 1905. When his effervescent treasures came out of the cellars a few years later and filled his influential friends’ glasses, he received enthusiastic feedback.
They soon encouraged him to turn his sparkling innovation into a business, but it took a few more years and the end of a raging World War I, before Eugène-Aimé Salon officially founded Champagne Salon in 1920.
A quickly growing demand for his champagne soon allowed him to buy the house attached to the one-hectare parcel next to the church, where Champagne Salon is still situated today.
Despite being featured in the most popular places during the Roaring Twenties – Cuvée S. even became the house champagne at legendary restaurant Maxim’s in Paris at that time – Eugène-Aimé Salon never considered acquiring additional land to expand his production.
Actively involved in politics and fighting for a modern Europe over many years, he managed two different businesses in Paris alongside his successful champagne house and therefore chose to keep the production strictly limited and exclusive.
After Eugène-Aimé Salon passed away in 1943, Champagne Salon was in the hands of one of his grandnephews for many years, silently losing more and more of its glamorous glitz.
In 1988, the Laurent Perrier group acquired Champagne Salon and united it with the sister house Champagne Delamotte, also located in the Côte des Blancs. Today, both champagne houses are run by Didier Depond, alongside Michel Fauconnet, Cellar Master and Production Manager of the Laurent-Perrier group.
No more than 37 vintages of Cuvée S. have been bottled ever since Eugène-Aimé Salon founded Champagne Salon, and a proof of nearly each one of those vintages can still be found in the oenothèque section of Champagne Salon’s cellars in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger.
The house’s most emblematic vintage, 1928, earned Eugène-Aimé Salon much recognition from connoisseurs, and still sets the standard for every new vintage to come. Until this day, the only cuvée that carries the name of Champagne Salon continues to be made from one grape varietal, grown in one cru, and bottled only in the most exceptional vintages.
Cuvée S. always undergoes a minimum aging of 10 years, as the dense and upright Chardonnay from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger requires patience and time to integrate its powerful intensity, balance its vivacious tension, and develop its impressive finesse, depth, and length.
Before a vintage is ready to see the world, it undergoes a time- and labor-intense hand-riddling process, a tradition that only a few champagne houses apply for their most valuable cuvées today. At Champagne Salon, however, Jérémy Rondelle still hand-riddles the entire production with attention to detail, keeping Eugène-Aimé Salon’s spirit and uncompromising standards alive.