The Small Village that Houses the World’s Best Champagne

January 01, 2018

Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, an unassuming village in the Côte des Blancs, provides Chardonnay for Krug and Champagne Salon. But what makes this region so special?

Two of the world’s greatest Champagnes come from one village: Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. The wines are both 100% Chardonnay blanc de blancs from the chalk slope known as the Côte des Blancs. Both share the minerality that the ancient seabed imparts, and both are vintage Champagnes that have the enviable ability to age.

Salon Le Mesnil is a blend, partly of Chardonnay grapes from Le Jardin du Salon, but also from 19 other vineyards. Meanwhile, Clos du Mesnil, produced by Krug, is a single-vineyard Champagne. The way that the difference affects the taste of these two superb wines provides fascination.

Salon Champagne’s winery is nothing if not discreet, located off a side street next door to its partner Champagne house, Delamotte. (Both are owned by Laurent-Perrier.) The tasting room décor—all white with white curtains—adds to the mystique.

Salon Le Mesnil is produced only when director Didier Depond thinks the year is right. Since the first vintage in 1905, there have been 40 Salon vintage released. The latest was the 2006 vintage.

The secret is the terroir of le Mesnil-sur-Oger. According to Mathieu Pouchan, American sales manager for Salon, it provides wines with more acidity and concentration than other Chardonnay villages in the Côte des Blancs.

“When we taste the new wine, it is almost unbearably acidic,” says Pouchan. “The Champagne needs to soften, which is why we wait at least 10 years before release.”

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