Didier Depond, President of Champagne Salon and Champagne Delamotte, tells ThePeak about running two of the world’s most exclusive champagne brands. Didier Depond has a problem, albeit one that any head of a company would love to have. As President of Champagne Salon, Depond is constantly inundated by requests for this most exclusive and illustrious champagne. “We are a vintageonly house and each vintage is limited to 60,000 bottles, which is released over three years,” he explains. With these numbers – 20,000 bottles for the world market each year – it’s inevitable that many would be disappointed. As Depond says: “After a while, you learn how to say, no, sorry, maybe next year…”
Founded in 1911, Salon has, so far, only released 40 vintages, the latest of which, 2006, appeared last year. Its quality and exclusivity has made it one of the most prestigious and soughtafter champagnes. Yet, it would be fair to say that Salon is hardly a household name compared to its more-well competitors. “France produces about 300 million bottles of champagne a year, and Salon is just a tiny bubble in the champagne production,” Depond explains. “We’re not a mass brand and, with all respect to the other houses, we have no interest in becoming that.”
Of course, even if Depond wanted to, there’s no way that Salon can increase its production. “Our house is the vision of our founder, Aimé Salon, who wanted to produce a connoisseur’s champagne,” Depond says. It was Aimé Salon who conceived the blanc de blancs (‘white from whites’) style of champagne and established the house’s philosophy of singularity. “It was Aimé Salon who decided that we only produce blanc de blancs champagne, made entirely from Chardonnay grown in a small village, Le Mesnil-sur- Oger (located in the Côte des Blancs subregion of Champagne), which is considered the best part in that region for Chardonnay,” he says.
The grapes are from a one-hectare parcel owned by the house as well as 19 other smaller parcels in Le Mesnilsur- Oger, chosen by Aimé Salon at the beginning of the 20th century. Not all years’ production, however, make the cut; those that do – the vintages – are cellared in the bottle for a