Last Monday’s EU Austerity Drinking Tour post found Wayward Wine spelunking Taittinger’s Champagne caves (read here). Today, we visit Lanson, another of Reims’ iconic houses and an old favorite of ours and Queen Elizabeth II.
Our hosts make us a fabulous quiche for breakfast. Then we bundle up, and let their freezing cat scurry in as we head outside.
A bit lost, we accidentally walk through the shipping gate into a walled courtyard. We find the front, our tour guide and tack on another guest to spend over two hours touring the vast facility. Enjoy the following video montage from vine to box:
In case your YouTube is struggling, here are photos for context. Sure, Lanson’s caves lack Taittinger’s antique charm. They loom high and vast thanks to modern cement.
But I’m sure Taittinger’s non-vintage caves are similarly massive and modern (we saw only their ancient Comtes de Champagne caves last Monday).
Instead of hand-riddling, Lanson employs automated gyropalates to agitate lees into the bottle neck.
We feel torn between the romance of employing thick-wristed individuals versus economic machines. With Champagne’s ever inflating price, this modernity keeps it an affordable splurge. Hopefully, riddlers will continue to turn the high tier cuvees that can demand that cost.
If you ever wondered what that sludge looks like near the end of it life in bottle:
Getting to see the labs was a treat as well:
The fully automated bottling line was a compact, exacting, turnstile of bubbly-making magic:
But what really capped our day off was the tasting. Chance had it that some celebrity swung through that morning. So we got to forgo Lanson’s entry, black label non-vintage Brut, and instead try their 2002 Gold Label.
Lanson, Gold Lable, Champagne, France 2002. This comes from 100% Grand Cru vineyards. Lanson only makes it in exceptional vintages like 2002. 47% chardonnay and 53% pinot noir make up its blend.
APPEARANCE: Gorgeous is a start. A clear, moderate gold color with gold leaf highlights, matched by a rapid, mixed size fizz.
AROMAS: smell clean, developing, with pronounced aromas of honey, lychee, golden pear, apple, vanilla, biscuits. There is quite a bit of ripeness.
PALATE: (11g/L) teeter it towards off dry, but medium plus acidity makes us forget any sweetness immediately. A medium alcohol of 12.5% by volume adds an unexpectedly rich medium body, with a sprightly but silken texture.
What makes Lanson a rarity in Champagne is that they halt malolactic fermentation. This renders a taut, dry, tart Champagne.
FLAVORS: Medium plus flavors of wild strawberry, slight smoke, toasted bread, and black tea leaf last a long, complicated while, dancing about our palates.
Lanson’s Gold Label 2002 Brut is outstanding Champagne (5 of 5).
Check in next Monday as our EU Austerity Drinking Tour continues!