Champagne Lanson’s new winemaker

Son of a winegrower, Hervé Dantan has always been drawn strongly to vine. After a variety of experiences in the most famous wine-producing regions of France, and then California, he returned to the land he holds most dear, to devote himself to his passion for Champagne. Having earned the respect of his peers, he was asked to join the house of Lanson in July 2013 to assist Jean-Paul Gandon, winemaker of the house  since 1986. Sharing their experiences throughout the last two years, Hervé Dantan now alone carries the privileged responsibility of winemaker.

Being responsible for guaranteeing a unique style means the winemaker has the key role in any Champagne house. Dantan has the privilege to elaborate the Lanson wines by using new remarkable tools such as a new winery that was inaugurated on the occasion of the 2014 harvest. The new winery is part of a €14 million investment that modernised Lanson production chain and added 23 oak casks for a state of the art, thermo and hydro regulated ageing cellar.

Since its origins dating back to before the French revolution, and in the purest Champagne style, Lanson is predominantly based on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, until recently the house categorically blocked malo-lactic fermentation (MLF). Yet in a recent interview with the Drinks Business Hervé Dantan announced what sounds like a real revolution at Lanson, ” We are seeing now a proportion of wines in Lanson Black Label that have gone through malo, because we don’t want to be dogmatic with non-malo… if we need to do it for a question of balance, then we will allow it. Maybe we need some roundness, and it will give more complexity.”

Inspired by the style and method used by Champagne Louis Roederer, Dantan, who instigated the change, said that the blend for  Lanson Black Label wouldn’t contain more than 25% of wines that had completed the malolactic fermentation. Proportions of wines having gone through MLF at Louis Roederer vary depending on the character of the base vintage – the harvest that makes up the majority of any single Brut Non-Vintage release.

“Maybe in the future Lanson will be 20-25% MLF; it will be the same approach as Roederer,” added Dantan, “with MLF we can achieve greater consistency, because, for example, we can use more in a very fresh year.”

With Champagne Lanson Black Label brut, Lanson reenchants its iconic cuvée. Black Label – a natural choice for this Champagne dominated by Pinot Noir – which owes its emblematic name to Victor Lanson who, in 1937, wished to pay tribute to the British market, and notably the Royal Court of the United Kingdom, which Champagen Lanson has supplied by appointment since 1900.