Clos Lanson is the ‘Haut-Brion of Champagne’

Lanson’s cellar master, Hervé Dantan, considers the house’s single vineyard site Clos Lanson to be the “Haut-Brion of Champagne”.

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Speaking to the drinks business during the launch of the inaugural vintage of Clos Lanson – 2006 – at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxford last night, Dantan said:

“We chose to launch Clos Lanson at Le Manoir as it’s within a walled garden, like the clos. Clos Lanson is the Haut-Brion of Champagne as it’s located in the centre of the town.

“We wanted to do something special and introduce you to the universe of this special plot. The quantity of chalk in the soil produces rich wines with a high level of maturation and high sugar levels.

Hervé Dantan

Hervé Dantan

“You get very special Chardonnay from Clos Lanson – it’s very generous in character but never forgets to be elegant. It’s never rich, and has a mineral core.

“I wanted to tell the story of an interesting Chardonnay in Champagne with a strong personality. There would have been no point in making the wine if it tasted like a classic Chardonnay from Champagne – we needed something special.

“The wine is very expressive and generous – it reveals a lot of flavours. We’ve kept the dosage low, at just 2/3g/l but have added a bit of sugar for the collectors who want to age the wine further and to respect the purity of the wine.”

During the tasting, guests were given the opportunity to try every vintage of Clos Lanson from 2006 to 2015 made from the plot, starting with the unfinished 2015 and working back to the first release of the 2006 vintage.

Dantan described the 2015 vintage in Champagne as “great” and boasting “a lot of richness”. He believes the 2012 vintage meanwhile, shows “great balance between freshness and maturity”.

Dantan has crafted a wine from the plot each year since 2006 and the plan is to carry on in that vein if the quality is there.

Clos Lanson 2006

Clos Lanson 2006

“Making a wine every year from the site goes against the spirit of vintage Champagne, but this plot is unique and allows us the conditions to elaborate a wine each year due to the warmer climate it enjoys being in the centre of Reims,” he said.

“If we were faced with vintages like 1972 and 1984 we wouldn’t make a wine as we’re serious about quality. We’ll only make it if it’s good enough,” he added.

Dantan also revealed that the annual Clos Lanson releases won’t necessarily be in chronological order. “The 2009 vintage, for example, is more evolved than the 2008, which may be reflected in the release date. They remind me of 1988 and 1989,” he said.

Dantan has found, and is keen to celebrate, vintage variation in the wines, though believes that the character of the plot gives them a unified expression.

“I’ve found big differences between the vintages from the clos, but the clos itself has such a strong personality it comes through a lot in the wine, so each of the vintages has the character of the clos running through them,” he said.

Clos Lanson is vinified in wood for 6-8 months. “The oak is very much a supporting act to add smoky, vanilla notes rather than tannins, which we don’t want in the wine,” Dantan revealed.

The clos is farmed biodynamically and Lanson also makes a small amount of honey from beehives within the site. Clos Lanson will carry a UK rrp in the region of £165 but is largely being aimed at the on-trade. Just 7,870 bottles of the wine were made.

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