Salon Champagne

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2013-12-20

First commercially produced in 1921, and made in only 37 vintages since then, Salon is the archetypal ‘boutique’ champagne. The original 1 ha single vineyard plot is now supplemented by carefully selected grapes from other growers in Le Mesnil, taking the production up to around 500 cases per vintage. With supply low, and little available on the secondary market as a consequence, it’s best for collectors who want this wine to pick it up on or close to release, before prices start their inevitable rise.

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The Salon 1999 Brut Le Mesnil – disgorged already in 2011 and dosed with a pretty typical six grams of residual sugar – displays faintly fusil and quarry dust notes as well as hickory nut, almond, walnut and toasted wheat piquancy on the nose. Polished and subtly creamy in texture yet brightly juicy with apple and lemon, this displays an uncanny sense of lift and refinement, perfectly complementing the honeysuckle and heliotrope perfume that waft inner-mouth. You could lose yourself in the ineffability of this wine’s floral diversity and in its resonantly nut and grain low tones. Hints of apple pip lend subtle additional piquancy on a long and at once soothing as well as stimulating finish, with suggestions of oyster liquor becoming prominent as the bottle stands open for a few minutes, and serving to milk the salivary glands for all that they are worth. Follow this for at least a decade.” 95 points, David Schildknecht, Wine Advocate

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1999 Salon is the latest release, with a market value of £1,942, which compares reasonably favourably with a market level of £3,042 for the 1996 vintage. Recent trades on the Wine Owners Exchange, which may also be useful for price discovery purposes, show a selling level of £2550.

The 1997 remains reasonable value where available, with a market level of £1,989 based on a European low. That said, the lowest current UK price for the 1997 is £2,040 and the best price for complete cases is around £2,200.
Prices for back vintages quickly become prohibitive: the 1995 sits at a market level of £3416 while the 1990 is being sold for £4,867, making it seem relative good sense to mop up the remaining 1997s and 1999s while the hunting is still good.

Large formats

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2013-12-17

When buying en primeur (and I’ve already half an eye on January’s upcoming 2012 Burgundy offering) the opportunity presents itself to pay a small premium for, effectively, having the wine bottled as you want it. A supplementary charge of usually around £10 per case will secure your selection bottled in halves or en magnum, while some producers may offer even bigger formats for long-term storage. What’s to be gained from larger format bottles from a collector’s perspective, and what are the drawbacks?
The most obvious function of larger format bottlings is their ability to resist the ravages of time more effectively. The reduction of the surface area of wine in contact with oxygen dramatically retards the speed of development, and allows a wine to keep longer than a 75cl bottle. In even larger formats, the presence of a traditional wax capsule may add further to the effect of slowing the wine’s evolution, though the point is very much up for debate.
Securing large format bottling of already scarce wines adds to the uniqueness of the purchased wine in years to come. Small producers may only set aside a tiny number of large format bottles each year in any case, so being one of the few customers who manage to have their allocations bottled in magnums or double magnums assures a longer drinking plateau and makes one feel special!
A magnum sized bottle is a useful dinner format, ensuring up to 12 guests are able to drink from the same bottle without risk of variation, a principle which can be extended by size of bottle and number of guests. Bigger bottles can also lend an element of theatre to the experience for some collectors who choose to serve direct from the bottle rather than decanting elsewhere. The drawback of larger bottles for the collector comes around should the bottles want to be resold, where many collectors find that the bottling that carried a premium at release does not do so on resale, and may indeed prove harder to sell than standard bottles. Formats of double magnum or larger, interestingly, don’t seem to be affected the same way, being much rarer examples, and continue to command a price in excess, per volume, of standard bottles.

Clos Rougeard Le Bourg Saumur Champigny 2002 trade

by Wine Owners

Posted on 2013-12-03

Clos Rougeard is a one-off compared with other Cabernet Franc wines produced in the Loire Valley. It is an estate that has been owned by the Foucault family for several generations. The current generation, brothers Charly and Nady, are strong advocates of organical farming. Slowly vinified in oak barrels, unfined and unfiltered, their wine challenge the traditionally held view of Saumur-Champigny being sappy, fruity luncheon wines.

The 2002 vintage of Le Bourg was traded this week at a price of £995 per 12, 44% below the current market price of £1778.52. Wild price variations are not unknown with the pricing of scarce for which demand is narrow. Bear in mind too it was long ago that the wine was selling for £30/bottle.

 Saumur-Champigny is often regarded as being under-rated and ‘good-value’. With recent qualitative improvements, and an established qualitative benchmark in Clos Rougeard, might we see growing international interest in Saumur’s Cabernet Franc wines ?


'The Foucaults' 2002 Saumur-Champigny Le Bourg displays a complex aromatic melange of machine, blackberry, smoked meat, resinous herbs, toasted nuts, sauteed mushrooms, flowers, and sweat. Sleek in texture, enormously rich and expansive in the mouth, yet retaining an invigorating core of acidity, it spreads salt and wet stone mineral traces, bitter black fruits and pungent herbs in the wake of its long, penetrating, juicy finish. I imagine this evolving into something like the glorious 1988 I was served on my recent visit. ' 92 points, Robert Parker, August 2007

3 records

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