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Champagne Lanson ditches Le Black Label Brut
Launched this week, the new name for Lanson’s Brut NV has been chosen to draw attention to the fact that each release from the Champagne house has its own character, which relates to the dominant and youngest vintage in the blend, along with selection of reserve wines from older harvests that vary with each expression.
Explaining the rationale behind the change during a discussion with db in January this year, Lanson president, François Van Aal, said that the rebranding of Le Black Label Brut was both driven by a desire to highlight the subtle differences between the blends according to their component harvests, as well as to promote the quality and complexity of the Champagne.
Notably, Le Black Label Brut becomes ‘Le Black Creation’, followed by a number, which, for this year will be 257, because it will be the 257th blend since Lanson was founded in 1760.
2024 will then see Lanson launch Le Black Creation 258, as each new blend will from now on be assigned a number, with Van Aal telling db that the aim is to “talk much more precisely to all the critics and sommeliers about what is in the blend each year.”
He assured db that the style of Lanson’s best-selling expression would not be changing, and would continue to be dominated by Pinot Noir, while the majority of the wines will still be prevented from going through the malo-lactic fermentation, which ensures that Lanson retains its characteristic citrus-fresh taste from the high level of malic acid in the cuvée.
Le Black Création 257 is based on the 2017 harvest, which makes up 55% of the blend, with the other 45% coming from Lanson’s collection of reserve wines. In terms of varieties, the 257 release contains 51% Pinot Noir, 36% Chardonnay and 13% Meunier, with the completed blend of wines from different grapes aged for more than four years in Lanson’s cellars before release.
Van Aal is not concerned that such a message will confuse a consumer used to the simplicity of a single consistent offer from Lanson in the form of the current Black Label.
“I don’t think it [Le Black Creation 257] is more complex; it is more transparent,” he said.
“Many consumers of Black Label might not even see the difference – they will drink it and not even notice – but others, those who want to understand, will dig in,” he said.
Assigning a numeric code to each release of a non-vintage or multi-vintage cuvée is a trend in Champagne that can be traced to the start of the Millennium, when Jacquesson released its brut NV ‘700-series’ in 2000, beginning with a blend numbered 728.
It was then followed by Krug, which introduced a numbering system to highlight the unique nature of each annual blend of its multi-vintage Grande Cuvée in 2015 – starting with its 160th edition, which hit the shelves in 2016.
Most recent was Louis Roederer, which in 2021 announced the end of its Brut Premier NV, and, in its place, the launch of Collection 242, because the inaugural cuvée was based around the 2017 vintage, which was the 242nd harvest since the foundation of Roederer in 1776.
At the unveiling of this new concept, Louis Roederer cellar master Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon said that the new multi-vintage cuvée marked the “end of an era for Brut sans année in Champagne”.
Moving forward to this year, it’s the turn of Lanson, which is especially significant, because of all the houses mentioned above, Lanson is by far the biggest producer, with its Le Black Label selling almost three million bottles worldwide.
Commenting on the development, Lanson winemaker, Hervé Dantan stressed the significance of Lanson’s rebranded Brut NV.
“Each Création is unique and writes a new page in our story, one that we share with the utmost transparency,” he said.
Le Black Label Brut owes its iconic name to Victor Lanson who gave it in 1937, both as a proof of openness to the world and as a tribute to the Royal Court of England which Lanson has been supplying since 1900. The authentic style of Le Black Label Brut is crafted from a rich and diverse palette of wines that highlight the full diversity of Champagne terroir. Our method stays true to the origins of Champagne – for the most part without malolactic fermentation – conveying a unique freshness. The meticulous selection of the Crus - including historical cornerstones such as Dizy, Verzenay or Trépail – and the strong presence of reserve wines preserve the constancy of the style across the years. The lengthy ageing process, three times longer than the official requirements of the appellation, allows Le Black Label Brut to combine perfectly both maturity and vitality. Its freshness and elegance will seduce both the sprightly enthusiast and the most seasoned of connoisseurs. Le Black Label Brut perfectly compliments an aperitif, for a precious moment shared with those who matter and for those small pleasures of everyday life.DETAILS
NUMBER OF CRUS: 100 GRAND & PREMIER CRUS: 50% PINOT NOIR: 50% CHARDONNAY: 35%
PINOT MEUNIER: 15%
HARVEST BASE: 2015 RESERVE WINES: 35% AGEING: 4 years DOSAGE: 8g/L Brut