TV presenter and wine expert Olly Smith raises a glass of his favourite champagne
I love Champagne. And I love Lanson for its uniquely bright buzz that sharpens a sip into a celebration. With the golden months ahead of us, let’s raise a glass to the perfect start to summer – it’s time to treat our tastebuds to some top class bubbly!
We’ve all got special occasions we remember celebrating with particular bottles, but I reckon it’s the company as well as the Champagne that kicks a party into the high gears of glory. A glass of Champagne is a magical moment enhancer, but it’s well worth embracing a bit of know-how to make sure you pick the perfect bottle to fit the mood of the moment and unleash that magic every single time.
Across the board, all Champagne created by Lanson is united by the house style which is bright and dazzling. It’s the way their Champagne is made that informs the flavour of their Champagne— there’s a rather geeky wine term for it (“non-malolactic fermentation”) — but I prefer to think of it as the difference between watching Wimbledon on a telly in 1981 and watching it this year in full-on 5K definition. The Champagne of Lanson, just like a 5K image, feels sharper, brighter and altogether more crisp and dazzling. A bit like a digital camera drawing the perfect snap into precise focus. The result for me is engagement that feels enlivening, invigorating and tantalizing.
Take Lanson’s rosé, for example. Aside from being the nation’s favourite, it’s a fantastic pairing with fresh red berries from strawberries to cherries and belongs in your fridge all summer long ready for the perfect serve. It was also one of the first Champagne rosés ever to be made and reflects Lanson’s heritage stretching back to 1760. Easy to forget that this dynamic modern Champagne house is also a family-owned company that’s poured centuries of know-how into its creativity, conjuring and weaving wonderful bottles ready to pop into our lives and deliver the goods at a moment’s notice.
Every single bottle of Lanson Champagne is aged for at least three years to give it a strata of complexity and is sourced from top notch Premier and Grand Cru vineyards. And, while Black Label is a widely available gem with radiant purity that’s spot on for an aperitif, the sheer diversity of Lanson’s other labels offers an amazing opportunity to match to a huge range of occasions. White Label, for example, is a fruitier style of Champagne and great fun if you add a fresh fruity flourish to your glass — a slice of strawberry, a sliver of orange peel, or a twist of lemon rind — don’t be afraid to serve it in white wine glasses rather than flutes to amplify the aromas. And as for the top trilogy of Vintage, Extra Age and Noble Cuvée ranges, these are some of the finest examples of Champagne around and effortlessly boost the any celebration with their soaring levels of finesse and pleasure.
Finally, the burning question of when to drink it? While these wines will all cellar beautifully and evolve into even more complex gorgeousness, the best answer I can give is: whenever you feel like sharing a perfect glass of Champagne!
Well worth remembering if you’re heading for a festival, the beach or a picnic outdoors this summer, that no corkscrew is ever needed with any of these bottles, which makes them perfect for portability and easy deployment!
As well as the good times, Lanson are also big supporters of sport from Chestertons Polo at Hurlingham Park and famously the Wimbledon Championships — this will be Lanson’s fourteenth year as their exclusive Champagne supplier.
I’ve been lucky enough to sip Lanson at splendid moments in my life from the Wimbledon Final to Boxing Day at Smith Towers but I reckon one of my favourite memories of sipping Lanson was at CarFest when I’d just finished hosting a comparative tasting of some legendary Lanson bottles and the moment was crowned by two Lancaster Bombers flying over our heads. Such was the revelry and splendour of the moment that no-one seemed to question my outrageous remark that I’d laid the fly-past on especially to time with the final sip of our Lanson line-up. Now that really would have been the perfect start to the perfect ending.