In 2009, to celebrate the upcoming 250th anniversary of Champagne Lanson, then Cellar Master Jean-Paul Gandon revealed the Lanson Extra Age range. The philosophy was to create Champagnes that epitomise the traditionally complex and fresh style maintained by the house since 1760 and to response to a demand for Champagne above the brut non-vintage style, but below the top tier of prestige cuvée.
As such, Gandon created Extra Age: a blend of special vintage years from only the best Champagne Crus. Lanson’s traditional vinification methods allow the original purity of the fruit and great freshness to be maintained whilst ageing and slow maturation on the lees enable Lanson Extra Age to fully express the character and richness of its aromas. A new blend of Extra Age is released every year – these Champagnes are always an assemblage of 3 or 4 different vintages (consecutive or not) and spend at least an additional five years ageing on the lees in Lanson’s cellars.
Initially, just an Extra Age Brut NV and an Extra Age Rosé NV were made, but in 2012 the range was extended to include an Extra Age Blanc de Blancs NV. Managing Director of Lanson UK, Paul Beavis told us this decision was in response to a gap in the market for 100% Chardonnay under Lanson’s premium vintage range, which has spent a minimum of seven years ageing on its lees. With the latest release of Lanson Extra Age due next month, we met with Paul at 67 Pall Mall to taste the new blends.
Introducing the range Paul informed us that Extra Age is still an extremely rare cuvée, accounting for just over 2% of total Lanson production – which translates to approximately 60-100k bottles annually. As always, the range this year contains wine sourced from a selection of Grand and Premier Crus covering over 168 hectares of vineyards and has not undergone malolactic fermentation. However, the 2017 release has undergone a longer ageing period than usual: bottled in 2007, each Champagne was aged for 9 years on the lees and disgorged in 2016.
In the past, the different cuvées have contained various non-consecutive vintages; for instance the last Extra Age Brut NV release was a blend of the 2000, 2002 and 2004 vintages, whereas the last Extra Age Rosé NV was a blend of 2002, 2004 and 2005. However for the new range, all three Champagnes are a blend of the same three vintages: 2004, 2005 and 2006. The percentage contribution from each vintage is also the same for each Champagne: 25% 2004, 25% 2005 and 50% 2006.
Lanson Extra Age Brut NV
60% PN 40% CH | Dosage: 8 g/l | Disgorged: 2016 | Vintages: 2004, 2005, 2006
Vineyards: PN: Bouzy, Verzenay CH: Avize, Chouilly, Cramant, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger
This has a hint of chalky cellar smell, characteristic of many 2004’s. Lots of lemon richness on the nose and palate. Slightly chalky element, but loads of power. Great length and hints of biscuit on the finish. Good value for money.
Lanson Extra Age Rosé NV
65% PN 35% CH | Dosage: 8 g/l | Disgorged: 2016 | Vintages: 2004, 2005, 2006
Vineyards: PN: Bouzy, Verzenay CH: Avize, Chouilly, Cramant, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger
Has 5% red wine from Bouzy. Loads of bright cherry and strawberry notes. Quite a lot of bitter berry flavours and chalkiness on the palate. Nice fresh acidity. Hints of tannins from the red wine come through on the finish.
Lanson Extra Age Blanc de Blancs NV
100% CH | Dosage: 8 g/l | Disgorged: 2016 | Vintages: 2004, 2005, 2006
Vineyards: CH: Avize, Cramant, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oiry, Oger
Loads of sherbet lemon hints on the nose. Big weight of fruit on the palate; bright apples and ripe lemons abundant. Dosage seems just right. Good length of flavour, some nuts and tropical pineapple notes show on the finish. Lots of acidity that lingers on and on. Very juicy and smoky. Definite star of the day.
All three Champagnes in the new Lanson Extra Age range showed very well. A particular standout was the Blanc de Blancs NV; packed full of ripe Chardonnay fruit flavours, this is characteristically fresh 2006 and indistinguishable from a prestige cuvée. Overall, another incredible release from a very clever cuvée – these Champagnes toe the line between house non-vintage and prestige cuvée masterfully and offer classy affordability.
The new range has just been released and will be available to purchase on our website soon.