Didier Depond was appointed president of Salon and Delamotte in 1997. Though he was not born in Champagne however within the Loire Valley, he’s so obsessed with this area, its wines, and its those who he has turn out to be de facto one among them.
Along with his contagious enthusiasm, witty humor, and no-nonsense, he talks with nice respect and satisfaction of the 2 homes he delivered to a brand new shine. And even Salon is immediately among the many most prestigious champagne homes, Didier doesn’t get philosophical about champagne. He simply focuses on what issues: pleasure, very a lot consistent with the imaginative and prescient of its founder Mr. Salon.
When did Salon turn out to be an icon on the planet of champagne?
The particular aura of Salon could be very outdated. Eugène Salon invented the primary 100% Chardonnay champagne firstly of the twentieth century as a result of he needed to make one thing completely different and distinctive, for his consumption and that of his associates. This champagne was offered below the title Vin Nature du Mesnil (pure wine of Mesnil) because the title blanc de blancs for this class of champagne began for use a lot later. The home in a short time turned mysterious and legendary, a separate case.
How did Salon and Delamotte turn out to be a part of the Laurent-Perrier group?
After the demise of Monsieur Salon in 1943, the home continued to provide distinctive wines however nobody talked about them anymore. Salon was a sleeping magnificence. Nephews of Monsieur Salon, a brother and a sister, turned the homeowners. This niece married Charles de Nonancourt who owned Delamotte.
In 1988 Bernard de Nonancourt, president of Laurent-Perrier, purchased Delamotte from his brother, and concurrently Salon which belonged to Besserat de Bellefon (which belonged to the Pernod-Ricard Group). There was only a wall separating the 2 homes, however each homes had a typical historic deal with blanc de blancs.
Salon got here with a treasure of wines within the cellar, and a model that had had notoriety and that the sommeliers of Paris and overseas knew, however which was below the radar. And even Delamotte, once I arrived, solely produced 200,000 bottles a yr. We now promote 800,000 per yr. So, I gave new life to the homes.
How did you end up on the head of those two homes? What was your technique to redevelop them?
I used to be already working for Laurent-Perrier, the place I arrived once I was 22 and the place I did my total profession. Bernard de Nonancourt was like a second father to me. Someday he introduced to me by phone, whereas I used to be in Venice: “On Monday you might be at Mesnil”. I didn’t perceive that he needed me to be accountable for each homes.
I used to be fortunate to get alongside very properly with the previous cellar grasp of the Laurent-Perrier Group, Alain Terrier, who helped me loads technically to develop the concepts I needed to revive the homes.
On the whole, when somebody arrives at a Champagne home, he/she desires to create new cuvées. Once I arrived, there have been seven completely different wines (for Delamotte) and I assumed there have been a minimum of three too many. I don’t purchase into this idea of having 10 and even 15 cuvées per model with all these single-plot cuvées which are sometimes disappointing.
So, we went for brut non-vintage, non-vintage blanc de blancs, classic blanc de blanc, and non-vintage rosé.
Why don’t you purchase into this pattern of single-parcel champagnes?
For me, champagne is the artwork of assemblage, mixing vintages, grape varieties, and years, for consistency. We can not produce (non-vintage) champagnes that aren’t the identical, that aren’t constant yr after yr.
Salon is also a mix, of various parcels of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. However we’re 100 years forward on the idea of classic single-grand-cru champagne. And with Delamotte now we have 250 years of expertise within the Côte des Blancs.
There are many producers in every grand cru like ours in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, however the high quality of the wines varies loads from one producer to a different. Not all people on an distinctive cru produces distinctive wines. The work of man is critical, it should intervene, and information the produce of nature. Wines usually are not made on their very own. It’s a query of terroir and know-how.
On the finish of the day, you make the wines that you simply like. I make wines that style good to me, which are clear and neat.
How do you outline the model of Delamotte?
Delamotte are wines of delight, for rapid consumption after we launch them, as we age them lengthy sufficient. We market our brut after a minimal of 36 months, the non-vintage blanc de blancs after 48 months, and the vintages after 7 years. Regardless of their ages, after 10 or 12 years they’re nonetheless clear and neat. After all, if you wish to age them additional, they are going to stay good.
As they open up within the glass you notice how good they’re and also you need one other glass. Champagne is made to be drunk time and again. For this reason with Delamotte our intention is to craft one thing of very prime quality and, on the identical time, accessible.
With Delamotte, one doesn’t drink champagne to be mental, to dissect, it’s simply to drink champagne, simply, for pleasure. Delamotte is the best champagne to drink for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all night time, all day lengthy. The truth is, champagne is the one drink moreover water that you could drink at any time. You don’t drink whiskey proper within the morning, or cognac, or crimson wine, and you don’t drink white wine late at night time. Champagne is for each second, all over the place and at each prompt.
Inform us extra about your cuvées.
Delamotte Brut is manufactured from 60% Chardonnay solely from grands crus from the Côte des Blancs: Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger, Avize; 30% Pinot Pinot Noir solely from grand crus within the Montagne de Reims, specifically Bouzy, Ambonnay, and Excursions-sur-Marne, and 10% Meunier from the Marne Valley.
Through the years, we step by step elevated the proportion of Chardonnay, from 30-30-30 to 60% Chardonnay 30% Pinot Noir and 10% Meunier.
In the present day our brut is on level. Possibly we are going to proceed to scale back the Meunier step by step, however I might nonetheless preserve it, simply to convey its explicit contact to the mix. I don’t denigrate Meunier, I discover it fascinating as a complement, and discover it tremendous fascinating by itself, with sure outdated blanc de noirs champagnes manufactured from Meunier that are extraordinary.
Delamotte non-vintage Blanc De Blancs is our true enterprise card: 100% Chardonnay from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger, Avize, with 48 months of growing old within the bottle. It’s good, it’s recent, it’s clear. It has little dosage however because of 4 years of growing old it’s not austere, it had time to spherical out. He’s not too younger and he hasn’t aged badly.
Delamotte Classic Blanc De Blancs (presently 2012) is made with the six grands crus of the Côte des Blancs: Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger, Avize, Cramant, Chouilly, Oiry. This champagne is scrumptious, that’s actually what I like.
Now we have been utilizing these six crus for the reason that 2008 classic. Earlier than, it was solely 4 grands crus: Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger, Avize, Cramant.
It’s nonetheless vigorous, with a particular menthol nostril, aromas of recent grass, of youth. I really like the nostril of this wine. The wine is tense however will not be aggressive. The end could be very neat, and really clear.
We even have the Black Label assortment. These are vintages that we preserve in magnum for a minimum of 15 years on the lees and that we disgorge step by step.
Is there a marked distinction in growing old champagne on lees and after disgorgement?
Sure, clearly. So long as the bottle contains the lifeless yeasts ensuing from the second fermentation, growing old occurs extraordinarily slowly. As soon as the disgorgement happens, the growing old will proceed however sooner. If you happen to disgorge 20-years-old champagne, you’ll instantly establish the youth of the wine in comparison with a champagne of the identical age that was disgorged 5 or 10 years earlier. We had many experiences, and that is an absolute piece of proof.
How do you outline the model of Salon?
With Salon, we’re on the planet of nice white wines with bubbles. Salons is about purity, straightness, it’s the expression of Chardonnay after which of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, a grand cru with its chalky soil. It has salinity and all notes of white flowers that I really like like jasmine, honeysuckle, orange blossom, lime blossom, they usually evolve over time to remind jam and honey.
We clarify this with our terroir and know-how, with the rigor with which we work in any respect the phases within the winery and within the cellar, with out compromise; if now we have a doubt, it’s a no.
Salon in its youth is a bit muscular so it must be tamed with time, for it to loosen up. The correct second to drink it it’s after 15-20 years, however you may preserve it for 20 years or 30 years within the cellar with no drawback. Now we have champagnes from 40 or 50 years in the past which are nonetheless in the identical state of youth. They’re just a little weathered, they are going to have some ripples, however they’re at all times good and recent, with some effervescence.
That’s why I prefer to open the bottles of Salon an hour earlier than serving them, because the wine has been locked up for thus a few years and immediately finds itself “free”. Additionally, you don’t drink it on the identical temperature as regular champagne of 8 or 9 °C (48 °F), however at 12, 13, 14 °C (53-57 °F), and in a wine glass. Because it unfolds in it, Salon tells a narrative, it’s a journey, to be tasted step-by-step.
You don’t make no-dosage champagnes, besides from Salon 2002. What’s your philosophy on dosage?
Champagnes with out dosage are extraordinarily pure, however much less nice and extra aggressive. And I firmly suppose that we drink champagne to take pleasure in. For this reason, in my view, any champagne wants just a little little bit of dosage, it may be tiny, nevertheless it’s just a little one thing that makes the distinction. Dosage is like the ultimate contact in a dish.
The dosage of the Delamotte vary could be very low, round 6, 6.5 g/l. We diminished progressively and compensated for this with longer growing old.
For Salon we’re round 5-6 g/l of sugar, typically much less. Additionally, fairly often we don’t carry out malolactic fermentation (MLF). For this reason Salon wines want this important part: time.
Certainly, we produced some circumstances of Salon 2002 with out dosage upon the request of Sketch restaurant in London to give the chance to its clientele to style two completely different expressions of the identical Salon classic, by the glass, with and with out dosage. Shoppers had combined emotions, and we predict that dosage remains to be obligatory.
How do you steadiness the lengthy growing old of your champagnes with the cash-flow aspect of the enterprise?
Growing old is vital to nice champagne, particularly when made with chardonnay with its excessive acidity that should relax. This lengthy growing old represents an unlimited constraint. Our homes are small, and we will afford to attend. Now we have the prospect to be a part of a gaggle that tells me: “if you happen to want 5 months or a yr or extra in your wine to be excellent, you’ve got them. We’re at all times right here to assist you financially.” It’s for me an unbelievable consolation to have this freedom to purpose for the very best irrespective of the associated fee.
Equally, we could possibly be tempted to make Salon extra continuously, however we are saying no to that. On common we make 4 vintages per decade and we market our wines after about 12 years.
We at all times revered our philosophy and it’s an absolute pleasure to proceed to work this fashion.
How do you have a look at “low cost” champagnes and glowing wines of different areas?
The worldwide demand for glowing wines is rising and champagne participates in satisfying it. There are good glowing wines made in a number of wine areas in France and elsewhere and there’s a marketplace for everybody. However champagne is champagne.
I feel that first-price champagnes contribute to the notoriety of champagne, though they hardly generate margins, and customers who purchase these champagnes step by step can spend money on higher and dearer champagnes.
And I’ve absolute admiration for the status cuvées of huge manufacturers, with tens of millions of bottles produced and bought of very prime quality, which pull the entire of Champagne up. It’s proof that in Champagne quantity and high quality can coexist.
You have got gone from 200,000 to 800,000 bottles per yr. Is that this your cruising velocity?
We are going to enhance our volumes. Our goal, which could be very possible, is to achieve a million bottles per yr. It’ll take time as I don’t wish to enhance quantity on the expense of high quality. Our ambition is to concurrently enhance quantity and high quality.
What’s champagne to you?
Champagne is my life. I arrived in Champagne at 22 and I used to be, you might say, adopted by two nice males, Bernard de Nonancourt and Alain Terrier, who taught me loads over time. However it should come sooner or later once I wouldn’t be at Salon and Delamotte any longer. Another person will substitute me as a result of that is what should occur. However in any case, to have served Salon and Delamotte and the group Laurent-Perrier is an immense pleasure.
Do you drink champagne daily?
Twice a day!