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Lanson is one of the oldest houses in Champagne, founded in and family owned since 1760. 2008 is now accepted as a truly exquisite vintage and this blend of 53% pinot noir and 47% chardonnay, all sourced from grand cru vineyards, bears this out in some style. Despite its ten years of age, the wine's generous but youthful green-apple and lemon aromas show that there is plenty of time in hand. Its bright fresh acidity, underpinned by toasty richness, really showcases this stunning year. The grapes are sourced entirely from grand cru vineyards, and the class shows.
Product Code: CH3801
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Champagne Lanson is based in Rheims and is one of the oldest houses in Champagne, celebrating their 250th anniversary in 2010, though it wasn’t until 1801 that the first Lanson appeared on the scene.This was Jean-Baptiste from the Ardennes, who formed a partnership with then owner Nicolas-Louis Delamotte. By 1837 the house was renamed Lanson Père et Fils, and by 1900 Queen Victoria had awarded them her royal warrant. They have been supplying the British royal family ever since, alongside the royal families of Sweden and Spain. Until 1980 they had remained family owned but is now, after one or two changes of hands during which they lost their vineyard assets, under the umbrella of Lanson-BCC, a merger of Lanson International and the Boizel Chanoine Champagne Group (BCC). The maintenance of their consistent high quality has been helped by the presence of Jean-Paul Gandon as chief winemaker for over 40 years and who did much to steer them back on an even keel when they had to replace their vineyards with excellent contract growers. Traditional winemaking is the order of the day here and ageing is a minimum of five years to give extra grace to the elegant but full-bodied wines that see no malolactic fermentation to blunt the delicious freshness.
Vintage cuvées often represent the very best Champagnes made by a house or grower. In theory, Champagne producers may declare a vintage in any year they please. Occasionally a house or grower will declare a vintage that seems out of step with the majority of producers if they feel that the performance of their particular vineyard(s) warrant it in any year.Generally, however, vintage Champagnes are only made in exceptional vintages.In contrast with the NV (non-vintage) wines, which are blended to maintain a house style, producers want their vintage Champagnes to display the quality and character of that one year's harvest. Vintage Champagnes always benefit from cellaring, and develop beautifully for those with the patience to leave them. They can be drunk upon release, but the vast majority will improve immeasurably with age. Champagne is made from chardonnay, pinot noir or pinot meunier grapes (there are one or two other permitted varieties but these are very rare) grown on chalky hillsides within a strictly demarcated region centred on the twin towns of Reims and Epernay, some 90 miles east of Paris. After hand harvesting, each grape variety is vinified separately, and in the following spring, the wines are blended unless a blancs de blancs is to made in which case any blending will be from parcels of chardonnay that were vinified separately. Yeast and sugar are added, and the wine is bottled for its second fermentation which creates the bubbles, or mousse. The yeast feeds on the sugars, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide, which, with nowhere else to go in the sealed bottle, dissolves into the wine. Vintage Champagne must then mature for at least three years compared with a minimum of 15 months for non-vintage. Gradual turning of the bottles, remuage, brings the yeast sediment to the neck of the bottle, which is then frozen to allow the yeast pellet to be cleanly ejected (dégorgement). In some Champagnes the dégorgement is delayed, sometimes for years, to increase the depth and complexity of the flavours through more time spent on the lees. After topping up (dosage) with a little more wine and sugar (known as liqueur d'expédition), the bottle is sealed. What marks the ‘Champagne’ method from other sparkling wines is the fact that this complex and gradual maturation process, along with the second fermentation, takes place in the same bottle as the wine is sold.
A vintage where September saved the day after an indifferent summer which saw difficulties with mildew. Conditions at harvest, however, were excellent and the grapes healthy. Though acidity was a shade higher than normal, there was a fine balance in the wines, suggesting the prospect of excellent longevity. The fact that it was a widely declared vintage says it all and it is excellent overall.
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