Fizz and foremost

This article first appeared in Options, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on March 12, 2018 - March 18, 2018.
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Salon and Delamotte are two of the most exclusive champagne houses in the world; sister brands that draw from a similar DNA and yet boast unique personalities. The maisons’ president Didier Depond talks to Anandhi Gopinath — over some bubbly, naturally — about their shared provenance, their enviable reputation in the industry and his personal journey in the world of champagne.

 

If you have heard of the legendary champagne houses Salon and Delamotte but never had the chance to sample any of their bottles, it’s perfectly understandable. They are, after all, regarded as some of the world’s most notoriously hard-to-get-hold-of bubblies because of extremely limited production and exclusive distribution. Theirs is not, for example, the regular brand of champagne you could hope to pick up while sauntering through Duty Free at the airport. In fact, it’s only this year that both brands are available in Malaysia. For those who are starting to feel a tad thirsty, you can find them at, say, the ultra-luxurious and decadent Astor Bar, nestled on the second floor of The St Regis Kuala Lumpur.

It’s where I had my first taste of both champagnes — during a visit from the joint president of Salon and Delamotte, Didier Depond. He was in KL recently to celebrate a newly inked distribution partnership with Dajin Beverages, owned by the Chua family, which also owns The St Regis Kuala Lumpur. As we settle down for our chat, three flutes — for me, Depond and Sai Men, the eldest son of tycoon Tan Sri Chua Ma Yu and Dajin’s director — await as a precursor to our conversation.

It is 3pm in the afternoon, but it matters not, as champagne is a drink perfectly suited for any time of the day. Depond laughs in agreement when I say this. “A very famous French wine writer came to visit me once and commented that aside from water, champagne is something you can enjoy any time of day,” he says. “To me, champagne is wine with a smile. When you think about a good red wine, people are often a little serious when they enjoy it. But Salon always puts a smile on anyone’s face.”

Oh, mais oui! Not for nothing is Salon considered one of the rarest and most esteemed champagnes in the world. Its small production consists of only one cuvée: a vintage Blanc de Blancs consisting purely of Chardonnay from one village (cru), Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. The maison ensures superior quality by purposely limiting production to exceptional years. Since its founding by Eugène-Aimé Salon in 1911, there have only been 40 vintages.

 

For the full story, pick up a copy of The Edge Malaysia (March 12) at your nearest newsstands or visit optionstheedge.com.