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Cover Story WINE.LUXE Cover People | 2017  Apr - May 

 

Lanson The Mysterious Clos

神 秘 的 一 公 頃

“Don’t look for a hint of terroir on Champagne in the manner of Bordeaux Chateaux or Burgundy appellations.” This is true for almost all the cases in Champagne, but with the concept of single vineyard we should talk about terroir in this highly celebrated region. Produced from a very special plot of Chardonnay, an exclusive 1-hectare vineyard located in the centre of the city of Reims, the Clos Lanson 2006, which was released last year, become the very first single vineyard Champagne of Lanson.

“One of the critical factors that defines the super-distinctive personality of Clos Lanson is derived from the unique history and character of the vineyard”. Hervé Dantan, Chef de Cave of Lanson since 2013, revealed, “The Chardonnay plot, half planted in 1962 and another half in 1986, has ended up in the assemblage of other vintages. But In 2006, the company was sold and when the new owners came across this extraordinary plot, it was suggested to be used to create its own single vineyard Champagne.” 

The following points explain how mysterious and exclusive the vineyard is. ”The vineyard is practically protected by clos (walls) so that the temperature inside is 2 ℃ higher than usual, which means it not only gives a yield with outstanding maturity but also subject to early harvest. The pure limestone makes it perfect for Chardonnay to develop its finesse and elegance. In addition, the clos is grown in agreement with integrated viticulture and is harvested only by family members and regular employees,” Dantan illustrated.Having all these peculiar character, what Dantan needs to do is express this special terroir by a thoughtful vinification. Dantan uses barrels to vinify the wines from the clos without the wood tainting the wine. The barrels from Burgundy have been toned down a lot so the wine can express its full character.

Dosage always plays crucial role in determining the style of a Champagne. For Clos Lanson, Dantan suggests to top up with a low sugar dosage of around 3 g/L. “ It is always a question of balance”. Without any ‘Zero dosage’ version within Lanson’s full range, Dantan explained the secret of dosage precisely, “ to some people, Champagne is considered great as long as there is no added sugar in the dosage. It’s not always the case. In contrast, there are only a few champagnes that don’t need dosage, and it always needs trial beforehand. In addition, people forget that the existence of sugar improve the ageing ability, ensuring that the Champagne ages with elegance. Before each vintage of each expression is realised, we test different dosages to find the optimum. For instance, the Noble Cuvée has 6g/L, the Black Label, that is Brut NV, has 8 g/L.”

Prior to joining Lanson, Dantan worked in Champagne Mailly as the Cellar Master for years, in which he accumulated his deep understanding not only in winemaking but also what’s happening in the vineyards. Therefore when Hervé arrived in Lanson, he knows exactly what to do in order to bring innovation to Lanson without interfere with the classical ‘Lanson style’.

The quintessential ‘Lanson style’ is often characterized by avoiding malolactic fermentation. To Dantan, this is always a tradition needs to be respected but with his clear vision to further enhance the quality of its wines.

“The Lanson spirit is to have fruity, powerful, crisp wines with a lot of purity and never forget the importance of elegance. The absence of malolactic fermentation (MLF) allows us to preserve the natural fruitiness, more freshness and more minerality.”

Dantan said,” Actually we allow a little percentage of wines that undergoes MLF, currently in the case of the Black Label and Rosé only. And if we decide to do this, it is because we think some vintage could be interesting with some extent of MLF. It adds complexity and roundness but never too much.”

“Wines that didn’t undergo MLF need more resting,“ reminded Dantan.” That’s why our Black Label spends at least 3 years on lees and we use more reserve wines to bring extra richness and complexity.” In 2014, Lanson brought innovation by investing a new winery, which is equipped with many field wine tanks and various sizes of wooden barrels. The tanks are powerful tools, offering them fabulous choices to do more parcel-based vinification, while the wooden barrels, supplied by Seguin Moreau, Radoux, et Vicard, bring multiple dimension and depth to the final wines.

To conclude the interview, we asked for Mr. Dantan opinion on the upcoming trends in Champagne. Other than moving towards to low dosage, he mentioned Rosé and wines with extend ageing. As a reference, Lanson is currently producing 20% 

Rosé out of all production, and the latest Lanson Extra Age 2010 is going to spend 10 years on lees before selling it, according to Dantan.

「跟波爾多或勃艮第不同,別花時間在香檳中尋找風土的痕跡。」這話大致正確,但當單一莊園的概念開始在香檳區萌芽,我們也該放下執念,嘗試在這個著名的產酒區談論風土。

去年,蘭頌酒莊發布了首支單一莊園香檳——Clos Lanson 2006。這方僅一公頃的神秘莊園,位於蘭斯市中心,只裁種單一品種葡萄——霞多麗。

蘭森酒莊首席釀酒師 (自2013年起) Hervé Dantan透露:「Clos Lanson的非凡個性,很大程度來自於這幅擁有特別經歷和風土的葡萄園。葡萄藤相當,一半是1962年種植,另一半是1986年開始栽種。以往這裡生產的葡萄用作其他香檳的勾兌。直到2006年公司易手,新東家愛上了這幅葡萄園的神秘魅力,於是提出了釀造單一葡萄園香檳的建議。」

究竟這幅葡萄園的魔力何在?Dantan解說道︰「葡萄園四面都以圍牆與外面分隔,其溫度比同區其他葡萄園稍高2℃,這意味著葡萄的成熟度較一般香檳高,而且採收也更早。純粹的石灰質土壤彷彿為霞多麗而設,放大其優雅、高酸的特質。葡萄園以綜合方法 (類似有機栽種法) 栽種,而且我們只容許家族成員和蘭頌的正式員工負責採收。」

具有以上這些優勢,Dantan的釀酒目標是如實表現出這種特殊風土。Dantan採用來自勃艮第的桶來釀酒,這些木桶都經特別處理,能賦予霞多麗複雜度,卻不會破壞香檳清爽的風格。

補液 (Dosage) 是決定香檳風格的關鍵。Dantan建議加入約3 克/ 公升低糖補液。蘭頌系列中暫時未見任何「零糖」香檳,為此Dantan解釋道︰「對於部分飲家來說,不添加糖等同於優質的香檳,真相並非如此。只有極少數香檳適合這種做法,而且必需經多番實驗。事實上,糖份不但是平衡的要素,更能提升香檳的陳年能力,確保香檳優雅地『成長』。在蘭頌酒莊,每個年份、每款酒都經過測試,以定出最適量的餘糖值,譬如Noble Cuvee是6克 /升,Black Label約8 克 / 升。」

在加入蘭頌之前,Dantan於Champagne Mailly擔任酒窖大師多年。因此,他不僅在葡釀造方面積累了深厚的經驗,對於葡萄園中所發生的大小事情都瞭如指掌。當他來到蘭頌,他非常清楚如何將創新意念帶入蘭頌,而又不會干擾經典的「蘭頌風格」。

眾所周知,「蘭頌風格」的特點之一是避免乳酸發酵。Dantan認為這是一個需要尊重的傳統,但不斷檢視、改進,是Dantan的重要願景之一。

「保持高純度的果香,生產出集中、清脆的葡萄酒是蘭頌的精神,但我們永遠不會忽略優雅的重要性。不經乳酸發酵使我們的酒保持天然果香,讓香檳更加新鮮和富有礦物感。」Dantan說:「我們現在允許一小部分酒進行乳酸發酵,而且只限於基本酒款Black Label和Rose。這樣做是因應一些年份葡萄的特質,以增加其複雜度和圓潤度,但從來不會過量。」

「需要注意的是,不經乳酸發酵的葡萄酒需要更長時間陳年。」Dantan提醒︰「這就是我們讓Black Label與酒糟接觸陳年至少3年的原因,加上現在我們使用更多的儲備酒勾兌,增加其豐富性和複雜度。」2014年,蘭頌酒莊投資興建了一間全新酒廠,配備大量存酒槽和各種尺寸的木桶。這些不鏽鋼存酒槽為他們提供更多選擇,進行獨立釀造;由Seguin Moreau、Radoux和Vicard供應的木桶,則為葡萄酒帶來深度和多元性。

訪問尾聲,我們請教Dantan對香檳未來走向的意見。除了之前提到的降低餘糖量,他認為Rose和更長的陳年將成趨勢。目前蘭頌的Rose生產量佔其整體生產量的20%,而最新的Lanson Extra Age 2010,陳年時間預計為10年。

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