Champagne Lanson to trial oak20th February, 2014 by Patrick Schmitt
Lanson is to trial wood casks for fermenting and ageing its wines from this year’s harvest, having used the material for its Clos de Lanson single vineyard Champagne, which is due to be released later in 2014.
According to Jérôme Durand, marketing director for the brand, Lanson has invested “millions of euros” this year on small stainless steel tanks as well as oak vats and barrels for its winery in Reims.
He said the new tanks were to enhance a “parcellaire approach” at Lanson while the new wooden vessels would be used initially in an experimental capacity for both fermenting wines and ageing reserve wines.
Although the use of oak will be new in the winemaking of Lanson’s mainstream range, the house first employed 225 litre oak casks for the fermentation of its Clos de Lanson, a single vineyard Champagne which will be released later this year.
The casks, which are made using wood from the Ardennes forest, provide a “hint of oak” to this Champagne, according to Durand.
Lanson’s decision to trial a touch of oak influence for its other Champagnes follows a move by another major house, Veuve Clicquot, which made a major investment in large oak casks in 2008 to add between five and 10% fermentation in oak for its key cuvée, known as Yellow Label.
As previously reported by the drinks business, the wood influence at Clicquot is not designed to change the house style but enhance complexity in the Champagne.
Meanwhile, the first vintage release for Clos de Lanson will be later this year using fruit from the 2006 harvest from a one-hectare plot in the centre of Reims – the only vineyard left within the walls of the city.
When launched, it will be the first single vineyard Champagne from the house, and an addition to the range instigated by Philippe Baijot, current CEO and director of Lanson-BCC, after the acquisition of Lanson International by Boizel Chanoine Champagne Group in 2006.
Durand told db that it was important for Lanson to release the Clos de Lanson this year because the house’s head winemaker Jean-Paul Gandon is to retire at the end of 2104, or possibly early 2015, having been with Lanson for 42 years.
“We would like to launch Clos Lanson before the departure of Jean-Paul,” he said, who has made a Champagne from the clos each year since 2006, using fruit from the single vineyard harvested by Lanson office employees.
Durand added that just 8,000 bottles have been produced annually from the vineyard, which contains Chardonnay vines between 35 and 50 years old.
In preparation for Gandon’s retirement, Lanson appointed Hervé Danton over nine months ago, ensuring that he spent two harvests working with Gandon before Danton takes the helm on his own.
Danton was previously winemaker at Champagne Mailly Grand Cru, and Durand described him as “one of the talents of Champagne”.
“It is very important to have a star behind Jean-Paul,” he added.