The Noble Lansons

The Champagne house of Lanson is a familiar name. Founded in Reims in 1760, it is one of the oldest Champagne Houses, today part of a small Champagne-dedicated group that also includes Besserat de Bellefon and Philipponnat among others.

Lanson’s ‘black label’ Brut NV is widely distributed. It has garnered many fans for its crisp style, famously being one of few houses that eschewed malolactic fermentation of the base wines. Recently, a small proportion of black label has embraced malolactic, but this ‘entry level’ cuvée will surely retain its remarkable ability to age.

At the top of the Lanson tree sits a deluxe wine called ‘Noble’, released only from the best vintage years. Just released are the latest Nobles: the Brut and the Blanc de Blancs 2004, each having spent 18 years ageing in the Lanson cellar.

Fruit comes exclusively from Grands Cru vineyards: Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs; Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims.  The wines are, of course, expensive at around £150 per bottle.  I think it is fair to say that these wines, with their distinctly aged character, won’t appeal to everyone. But many wine and Champagne lovers will relish the opportunity they afford for an almost unique Champagne experience.

The 2004 Vintage

Lanson describe 2004 as ‘A providential vintage,’ where the summer came with “grey and veiled sky where light and heat were scarce.” As so often seems to happen, September was the providential moment, with sunny, dry and warm conditions meaning that the harvest was both bountiful and of excellent quality for most houses, including Lanson.

The Small Print

Champagne Lanson, Noble Brut 2004
Chardonnay: 70%
Grands Crus: Avize, Cramant, Oger, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Chouilly
Pinot Noir: 30%
Grands Crus: Verzenay, Bouzy
Aged: 18 years before disgorgement September 2021
Malolactic fermentation: 0%
Dosage: 6g/L
Number of bottles: 21,874

Champagne Lanson, Noble Blanc de Blancs 2004
Chardonnay: 100%
Grands Crus: Avize, Cramant, Oger, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Chouilly
Aged: 18 years before disgorgement September 2021
Malolactic fermentation: 0%
Dosage: 6g/L
Number of bottles: 14,017

The Wines

(2022) 100% Chardonnay, from Grand Cru vineyards in Cramant, Oger, Mesnil-sur-Oger and Chouilly. After 18 years on the Lees, the wine was disgorged on 21st September 2021. The dosage is 6 g/l. There is a burnished depth to the colour. I found it took a few minutes for the nose to open up, then revealing lots of yeasty, nutty and meaty umami character. Slow to evolve notes of buttery pastry become creamier. In the mouth, there's a certain lemony strictness to this. The meatiness continues, bready rather than fruity flavours, but bags of mouthwatering lemon acidity. A touch of saline makes itself felt right on the finish.
(2022) Grapes are sourced exclusively from Grands Crus sites in the Côte des Blancs and Montagne de Reims, Chardonnay (70%) and Pinot Noir (30%). The dosage is 6g/l. There's a meatiness and bready depth on the nose once again, with complex yellow plum and little charcuterie notes flecked with floral and preserved lemon nuances. In the mouth the mousse is creamy, and this develops as such a sumptuous and complete Champagne, textured and ripe in terms of the mid-palate fruit, then the cool, sheer apple and lemon acidity of the finish. Gorgeous stuff.

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