There is a reason why the flagship champagne from Houses, or Grandes Marques, are non-vintage cuvées. The blending of reserve wine with a base vintage allows the chef de cave to produce a consistent style of champagne, emblematic of the House, on a continuous basis. It is therefore important to remember the patience, skill and investment that goes into maintaining a House style. Champagne Lanson and its chef de cave Hervé Dantan have added another level of appreciation to the non-vintage class of champagne.
Champagne Lanson’s flagship cuvée is Le Black Label Brut. When Hervé Dantan was appointed as chef de cave at Lanson, he introduced two new cuvées to the House’s ”Core Range” and it became clear the two-pronged message he wished to convey: the importance of Chardonnay in Champagne and to Lanson’s fresh style, and the degree of integrity and quality the House strives for, from top to bottom.
Le Black Réserve is a late release version of the flagship cuvée. This current edition is based on the 2014 vintage which is blended with 45% reserve wine (some of which has been maturing in oak for twenty years). The wine is matured for five years before being released from Lanson’s extensive underground cellars.
Le Blanc de Blancs actually came before Le Black Réserve. Here, Dantan wanted to shine a spotlight on the fresh style of champagne that Lanson is famous for and through the vibrant lens of Chardonnay alone. Similarly to Le Black Réserve, the current edition of Le Blanc de Blancs is based on the 2014 vintage and blended with 40% reserve wine, and matured for five years prior to release. So good has the response been to this cuvée that the House only makes it available on allocation now.
Both of these cuvées can be enjoyed on their own, but because of the extra maturation they have been afforded, there are layers of complexity here that make them true gastronomic champagnes. Please see further below for Lanson’s own food pairing suggestions.
Lanson's gastronomic champagnes
Le Blanc de Blancs | NV | R 995 per bottle
Base vintage 2014 | 40% reserve wine | 100% Chardonnay
Blended from 15 crus (70% Grand and Premier Cru) | Dosage 7g/litre
”…attractive aromas of citrus oil, flowers, white peach and brioche. Medium to full-bodied, pillowy and fleshy, with racy acids and a pinpoint mousse, it concludes with a mouthwatering, delicately chalky finish.”
92+ points | William Kelley | Wine Advocate | March 2021
Le Black Réserve | NV | R 895 per bottle
Base vintage 2014 | 45% reserve wine | 50% Pinot noir, 35% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Meunier
Blended from 100 crus (70% Grand and Premier Cru) | Dosage 7g/litre
”…Mingling aromas of honeycomb and crisp yellow orchard fruit with hints of warm biscuits and orange oil, it’s medium to full-bodied, fleshy and charming, with tangy underlying acids, a generous core of fruit and impressive complexity derived from the large percentage of reserve wines.”
92 points | William Kelley | Wine Advocate | March 2021
Lanson’s flagship Le Black Label accounts for most of the four million bottles or so that the House produces annually. While that is a fair bit of champagne, it’s not quite the thirty-plus million that the bigger, more commercial names produce. The rise in demand for champagne over the past couple of years has been met with smaller crops due to climatic challenges. There is certainly a prestige factor in drinking champagne, but always look beyond the label and remember the story behind each bottle. Cheers!