Lanson Gold Label 2002 v 2004

Inspired partly by the Tesco ‘Co-buy deal’ (still about 4 hours to go on this as I write, see and order before 6pm today ) on Lanson Gold Label 2002 we opened a bottle of this impressive example of the top class 2002 vintage for our Fizzy Friday tipple this weekend. The bottle I had in my cellar was disgorged in March 2011, it helpfully says on the back label (see picture below) – Lanson is the first of the major houses in Champagne to do this on all the wines in its range – so while I personally am trying to keep back as many ‘02 vintages as I can for several years yet, three years post-disgorgement age give this wine every chance to shine now.

And shine it did. The first thing to note about Lanson vintage is that the grapes for it are impeccably sourced. Only five Grands Crus – the highest rated vineyards in Champagne – are used, with the 47% Chardonnay in the blend coming from Cramant and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger in the Côte des Blancs, while Pinot Noir grown in Aÿ, Louvois Verzy and Verzenay accounts for the remaining 53%. This combination gives impressive initial clarity and freshness allied to a richness, concentration and power in the mid-palate. Returned to the next day it had opened up with pronounced toasty smoky notes, ripe quince fruit and an attractive palate intensity that suggests it has a long future ahead of it.

Scouting for bargains on ASDA’s website a couple of days ago I noticed that they are offering the current 2004 Lanson Gold Label vintage at £30 a bottle if you buy a case, down from the regular price of £40 and matching the best price that can be reached under the Tesco ‘co-buy deal’ if another 20-odd buyers sign up for it.

Time to get the 2004 Lanson out of the cellar to try the two side-by-side. The blend in this case is pretty much the same, 48% Chardonnay set against 52% Pinot Noir, but this time the white grapes are also sourced in Avize and Oger (two other Côte des Blancs Grands Crus), while Pinot from Bouzy is used instead of Louvois, but the backbone remains Aÿ, Verzy and Verzenay. The biggest difference is one of vintage with the ripe, high quality Chardonnay from ’04 giving this wine a luscious creamy texture that makes it very moreish drinking now, despite two years less ageing and in the case of the wine from my cellar, only a year’s post-disgorgement age.

People generally don’t realise how good Lanson’s vintage champagnes are but anyone tasting either of these two should start to get the message. Buy them while the price is so attractive, you won’t be disappointed. Either wine can be cellared further too.

The 2004 Gold Label is on offer at Sainsbury’s for £31.35 if you buy six bottles or more from 30 April

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One thought on “FIZZY FRIDAY”

  1. Hi Giles
    I bought a 6-pack of the 02 Lanson – it arrived last weekend so I thought I’d better try one. It was delicious but I was surprised at how evolved it was, and I suspect it has been stored poorly. I wonder if you have any misgivings about buying from supermarkets – do they have a reputation for less-than-optimal storage?

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