Australia loves Champagne. In fact, we’re the 6th biggest export market in the world, with 10 million bottles landing on our shores annually. Historically, however, we tend to drink mostly big house NV Champagne, with an underrepresentation of grower, rosé & prestige Champagne, with the lowest average spend (you can read more about it in Tyson’s 2020 report here).
Our market is also one of the fastest growing, defying the rest of the world to be drinking more Champagne (rather than flatlining in many markets).
Given this growth, we’re also seeing plenty of love (ie PR), all of which means that I’m now seeing more Champagne turn up on the doorstep than ever before. Expect more Champagne in weeks to come (view all the reviews here).
Then again, ff they’re as delicious as this pair of new Lanson Noble Champagne releases, I’m not sad about this…
In fact, two bottles of each fizz turned up, which means the Australian Wine Review Christmas party (my family and I having a BBQ) will have more of a Lanson flavour.
The other reason why these Lanson have landed is the new packaging. New livery and new styles that, I think, look pretty good in a rather classical form. It’s a crowded market in prestige Champagne, however, with the circa $260 mark punctuated by big names with fanciness (and bottomless marketing budgets) abounding.
Let me know what you think (with apologies for the average photo).
Most importantly, the fizz is seriously good. No doubt helped by an astonishing 18 years on lees, which has helped deliver exemplary complexity (in the Blanc de Blancs, at least).
As befits a prestige Champagne, both of these Champagne releases comes off exclusively Grand Cru vineyards, and most interestingly, Chardonnay is the dominant grape all around (which is my preference anyway).
Sadly, I missed the virtual masterclass led by winemaker Hervé Dantan after the time was shifted from doable 4:30 pm to dinner time 6:30 pm. Plenty of info came in the box though (and a pen and Moleskine).
So how do these top-shelf Champagne (re)releases taste?
We road-tested this on a real-life (infrequent) date night rather than in the cold, clinical world of the tasting bench, which means I drank more than tasted. This is rare. It also means I gave this duo even more attention than normal. The pink ice bag (below) just made life more entertaining.
Lanson Noble Blanc de Blancs 2004
From Avize, Cramant, Oger, Les Mesnil-sur-Oger & Chouilly. No malo, 6g/L dosage, 14,017 bottles produced. 18 years on lees.
Eighteen years young, eh? Reborn and undoubtedly well made, this has a full tilt nose that shows the long, long lees ageing – all marzipan and brioche autolysis with just a little mothball development. There’s a custardy richness that you can smell. Love it! Proper grand cuvée layers on the palate too. That yeasty nose leads into a creamy, rich palate yet with an almost saline tang to match the custard powder citrus. So expressive and opulent to smell! This is my sort of Champagne. It’s just a smidgen too linear on the palate, maybe, but gee I’m nitpicking. Superb. I might even be underscoring it – 96 wouldn’t be out of line.
Best drinking: right now. 18.7/20, 95/100. 12.5%, $260 (but I’ve seen it online for $220). Would I buy it? Can you buy it for me? I don’t fork out $220 for Champagne very often…
Lanson Noble Brut Vintage 2004
Chardonnay source is similar to the BdB, with 30% Grand Cru Pinot fruit from Verzenay & Bouzy. No malo, 6g/L dosage. 21 874 bottles produced. 18 years on lees.
This is so much more elegant and less open than the superb BdB. Different, though, and I think will appeal to different drinkers. Tighter, more classic aftershave and whispers of red fruit pinosity – you don’t see the autolysis brioche/wheaty lees. Indeed, it’s pretty subdued for a grand cuvee – there is a subtlety, building power and unquestioned complexity. Nutty lees, some citrus fruit, taut acidity. Everything in its right, late disgorged place. But not quite the pomp. Fine, but the BdB is finer (although this will live longer).
Best drinking: good now, but will still be good in years to come. 12.5%, $260 (also $220 online). Would I buy it? I’d drink a glass, but wish it was the BdB.