I was awarded this bottle, oh yes I was… along with an engraved decanter for having the highest overall score in 2014 for WSET graduates in BC. As someone who doesn’t even work in the industry (alas, the blog doesn’t count), I am still pretty happy about that award.
It did take a while though until there was a notable enough occasion to pop it! What – I’m going to drink it by myself? There’s no fun in that…
I was worried it was past its drinking window of about 15 years, but we were in luck.
This is a bottle of vintage champagne which alone makes it special. Champagne houses usually produce vintage champagnes only about 3 times a decade; most champagne produced is NV or non-vintage. In NV champagnes, there can be as many as 90 different wines from different years blended together to produce a sparkling wine of consistent flavour, quality and style year after year.
But in vintage years, all the wine used to create the champagne must be harvested during, and produced in, that particular year. So, the vintage has to be extra special. Champagne is usually the ultimate expression of a blended wine; to produce one that has only one vintage of grapes in it is challenging and rare.
To add to this, Lanson doesn’t allow their champagnes to go through what is called malolactic fermentation (when malic acids convert to lactic acids and give the wine a more mellow, rounder mouth feel). When this is not allowed to happen, and as long as the fruit is of highest quality, the acidity will combine to sustain the champagne for a long ageing window.
Also, Lanson ages their champagnes for 5 years before release (whereas the law is 3). Thus, at 17 years of age, for this champagne to have retained its freshness is really quite incredible and a testament to the house’s decision to make a vintage champagne.
This bubble, made of roughly 50/50 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, is pale gold with a long-lasting, delicately beaded mousse. Aromas include ripe yellow apples, freshly baked bread and light honey.
The palate is dry with medium plus acidity and flavours of more ripe yellow and red apple, and toasted French bread dipped in soft lemon curd.
Subtle and mature, delicate and layered, this is WSET Very Good plus. Drink and enjoy now if you have any.