In 2016, we witnessed the birth of what promises to become a Champagne legend: Lanson’s brilliant Clos Lanson, the first Champagne ever made exclusively from a unique and historic vineyard, first planted in the 18th century in the center of Reims. Only 650 cases were made of the inaugural 2016.
The Rare Wine Co. was honored to host the sole preview tasting for American collectors on July 7, 2016, at San Francisco's Quince restaurant. Lanson's winemaker Hervé Danton showed six of the first ten vintages, 2006-2014, of which five were sneak previews. (The 2014 won't be released until 2024!) This was an extraordinary opportunity to see not only how this special terroir reacts to varying vintage conditions, but also how the wine develops with years of aging on the lees.
Clos Lanson has long been the crown jewel of Lanson’s holdings-just one hectare of near half-century old selection massale Chardonnay vines perched on a hill, adjacent to the house’s cellars in the very heart of Reims. This makes it limited not only by its walls, but by the city itself, with no possibility for expansion.
The mystery then is why, in over two centuries, had a single-vineyard Champagne never made from this providential site?
The explanation lies in Lanson’s traditionalism and the house’s long-standing resistance to the modern idea of single-vineyard Champagnes.
In fact, it was Lanson’s traditionalism that drew Philipe Baijot to this 250-year-old house in the first place, signing on as its new directeur in 2006. But once he had tasted the vin clairs that yearand was floored by Clos Lanson’s profound characterhe couldn’t comprehend why Lanson hadn’t seen the Clos’ potential to produce one of Champagne’s greatest single-vineyard wines. And so his first important act as directeur was to insist that, from 2006 forward, Clos Lanson would have its own wine.
Lanson’s long-time chef de cave Jean-Paul Gandon immediately set himself the task, taking full advantage of both the Clos’ singularly great terroir and one of the top vintages of the past 30 years, to fashion a masterpiece.
Clos Lanson’s penetrating saline minerality gives it a very distinct soil signature compared to its pure Chardonnay peers from the Côte de Blancs. And this laser-like minerality is matched by equal richness from a level of natural ripeness rarely seen in Champagne, courtesy of its protective high walls.
The vines are farmed organically and, being adjacent to the house, can be picked quickly at ideal maturity. Even then, only the most flawless fruit is included in the prestige cuvée. And Gandon enhanced the grape’s perfect balance by introducing neutral barrel fermentation and aging, while the house’s famed practice of blocking the malolactic fermentation enhance the wine’s structure and longevity.
To maximize its inherent complexity, Gandon, and his successor Hervé Dantan, aged the 2006 Clos Lanson on its lees for eight years, disgorging it in December 2014 with minimal dosage. The result is a singularly great vintage Blanc de Blancs, praised by Antonio Galloni for its “lovely textural brilliance" and by Richard Juhlin as “radiant, rich and extremely elegant.”
A Champagne of great importance, the release of the 2006 Clos Lanson was greeted by raves from the world’s most influential writers on Champagne, selling out in the first weeks after its release.
The second vintage of Clos Lanson, the 2007, is expected out during the fall of 2017.
Adding to Cart.