Le Clos Lanson: a magical place for an exceptional champagne

It may be unusual, but after releasing the 2009 vintage, Maison Lanson is now bringing out the 2008 vintage of Le Clos Lanson. The years were swapped around, to allow time to do its work. And time is a constant priority at Lanson, as Cellar Master Hervé Dantan explains to Esther Degorce-Dumas, Business Development Director at Twins.

Lanson: more than 250 years of champagne

The Maltese Cross adorns the bottles of champagne; a symbol representing the Lanson signature. Lanson is one of the oldest champagne houses, founded in 1760. To understand the Lanson style, Hervé Dantan focuses on three essential points: “the vineyards, the winemaking method, and the time we give our wines”.
When it comes to the vineyards, Lanson has always been supplied by a large number of Grand Crus and Premier Crus. The house has historic contracts with winegrowing families, which ensures a high standard of quality for the long term. Furthermore, Maison Lanson created a collective structure in 2018, as part of its strong commitments to organic viticulture and biodynamics, to encourage its partners to become trained in sustainable viticulture.
Something else that sets Lanson apart is its traditional method of winemaking, without malolactic fermentation. This makes it possible to keep all the natural freshness in the grapes, which is one of the keys to understanding the Lanson style.

“In a glass of Lanson, whether it’s an old vintage, a more recent one, or even one of our multi-vintage blends, the idea of freshness is always front and centre.”

Hervé Dantan, Cellar Master Lanson Champagne

And to fully develop this freshness, time is the third crucial element. At Lanson, they wait for the wines longer than anywhere else. For the multi-vintage blends, it takes at least 4 or 5 years to reach a balance between maturity and freshness. And for the vintages, it stretches out to 10 or 15 years.

Le Clos Lanson: a hectare steeped in history

For Le Clos Lanson 2008, it took 15 years to achieve this subtle balance. For the Maison, the history of Le Clos Lanson is simultaneously ancient and very modern. Esther Degorce-Dumas, Business Development Director at Twins, says that while enclosed plots known as “clos” are generally associated with Bordeaux, they are also found in Champagne.

But what is so special about these plots? As the Cellar Master says, a clos is a vineyard or plot surrounded by a wall that could not be crossed by a man on horseback. More specifically, a clos must meet criteria relating to history, geography and wine quality. Le Clos Lanson is therefore part of a great tradition of historic clos in Champagne. It dates back to the 18th century. The 1-hectare plot is next to Reims Cathedral, which is where the coronation of the Kings of France took place. While in the past, these vines were located in the city’s suburbs, it is now found in the heart of Reims, on a splendid chalky hillside with a soil high in limestone. The conditions are ideal for a microclimate that is particularly favourable for maturing Chardonnay.

“When you taste Le Clos Lanson, you will take a true journey through the plot. Its generous body evokes the microclimate that you find there, while the velvety texture, which moves into absolutely remarkable freshness, speaks to the fine, chalky soil. It’s a Chardonnay with a strong identity.”

Hervé Dantan, Cellar Master Lanson Champagne

After 2006, 2007 and 2009, here is Le Clos Lanson 2008

While Le Clos Lanson is a location steeped in history, its existence as a wine is more recent. When the Maison was taken over by a new owner in 2006, it was decided to make Le Clos Lanson a separate vintage. “For them, such a magical place and a wine with such a strong identity absolutely deserved to be showcased as a clos,” says Hervé Dantan. Before then, the grapes from the plot were vinified separately, then used in the Maison’s finest vintages. So, in 2006, Le Clos Lanson was bottled under its own name.

Next came the distribution of the 2007 vintage, then the 2009, and this year, we will discover the 2008. The unusual order of commercialisation is explained by the profile of these vintages: 2009 was a sun-soaked, generous vintage, whereas 2008 is very mineral.

“For us, it was a logical choice to bring out 2009 before. It’s a sunny vintage with a generous body. 2008 is more chalky and saline, a vintage that has a lot of vitality and that needed a year longer to really reach its optimal ageing”.

Hervé Dantan, Cellar Master Lanson Champagne

The management of the 2008 vintage illustrates the importance of time for Maison Lanson – a true school of patience. And as Esther Degorce-Sumas says with a smile, “we won’t have to be patient much longer – wine enthusiasts will be happy to hear that Le Clos Lanson 2008 is now available to enjoy.”

Suggested food pairing with Le Clos Lanson 2008, by chef Arthur Leprevost: two appetisers featuring langoustine. First of all, a langoustine cigar, langoustine tartar, samphire and Aquitaine caviar, followed by langoustine crudo, Aquitaine caviar and a langoustine emulsion with almond milk.

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