Lanson: A Champagne House at the Top of Its Game

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If you have not tasted Lanson Champagne lately, now is a great time to get reacquainted. The Baijot family purchased Lanson back in 2006, and over the last thirteen years have invested twenty million euros in the winery and increased the aging for their non-vintage by a full year. These wines, which have always been staunchly in the no malolactic fermentation camp, are better than they have ever been and remain a tremendous value for money. This weekend I drank some at home with sushi, and I was very impressed.

The Lanson "Black Label" Brut Champagne is composed of 50% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay, and 15% Meunier and benefits from the addition of 30% reserve wines, which date back to 1998 in the current batch. This wine is now aged for four years on the lees and shows it with wonderful toasty brioche notes on the generous nose. On the palate and the finish, this wine is impeccably clean and racy thanks to the blocked malolactic fermentation. This makes the wine not only a very refreshing aperitif, but also an excellent Champagne to pair with food and we found it a great partner for the sushi. The richer rolls were especially well married with this bottle.

Next to it on the table, the Lanson Brut Rosé Champagne surprised me with how much different it was than the brut. Apparently, the base wine is the same as the Black Label, but the 6% of Bouzy rouge added to the wine for color, aroma, and flavor transformed it completely. The grand cru of Bouzy is the most sought-after terroir in all of Champagne for the red wine used for rosé, and this cuvée is a great lesson in why that is. While the color is a pale pink, the pure strawberry and savory beet flavors of top-class Pinot Noir come to the front in the bottling. The finish is totally clean and dry, and I found this wine went perfectly with the sashimi, especially the ahi. This is also totally delicious on its own and will make a fine aperitif when you are in the mood for rosé.

Don’t miss out on tasting the wines from Lanson. This is a house with which all Champagne lovers should reacquaint themselves!

-Gary Westby