Prediction and Expectations: Hervé Dantan, Champagne Lanson’s Chef De Cave on the Harvest 2020

In our 260th year, 2020 was challenging on many fronts, and I am so grateful for the dedication of our teams and growers, who all put in extra efforts in the vineyards and at the winery to make this harvest a true success. 

After an amazing 2018 and 2019, we are blessed to bottle another great year – the 2020 harvest is showing exceptional potential. Of course, we have to be patient and see how the wines will evolve, but we are very optimistic it will be another famous trilogy with three very good consecutive vintages. For the 260th anniversary of Maison Lanson, it is a very rare situation, similar to the 1988, 1989 and 1990 trilogy.

2020 was far from an ideal and easy harvest like in 2018 and 2019. However, the vegetative cycle and the rapid ripening promised an early and easy harvest, from the health and quality perspective. In March, after a wet winter, work in the vineyards continued despite the lockdown in France and the closure of the production facility. The vines grew very quickly, and we then had a very early season due to sunny and hot conditions. We even had to take some people from the cellars to help in the vineyards as there was much to do. 

After a very warm summer, while focusing on reorganization for the harvest and set-up of the new COVID-19 safety measures in the vineyards and at the press houses, we were all taken by surprise by the sudden slowing of the ripeness due to the drought the week before the beginning of harvest. The vines were sending us a message – demanding that we pay more attention to them.

It was probably meant to be this way in such a special year. This 2020 vintage would not reveal itself to us so easily without giving us a hard time. It was a true test, in a time when it has been so easy to feel downhearted. Our disillusion was confirmed, with such a high level of potential alcohol for unevenly ripe and multi-color grapes. To cope with the delay between the Phenolic ripeness and Sugar ripeness, we had to significantly increase the berry sampling and tasting in each plot. With exacerbated economic and health issues this year, I am grateful to our growers for their extra efforts in this context as they often had to postpone the beginning of the Harvest in order to reach the perfect level of ripeness. I have never experienced so many combined efforts and difficult, responsible decisions to make. The phenolic ripeness will end up reaching 10 to 10.5% of alcohol. 

In Lanson’s own vineyards, the harvest started in the Côte des Bar in Loche sur Ources on August 20thand we finished today in Verneuil in our biodynamic vineyard. We originally expected a short harvest, but it was quite spread out due to varying levels of ripeness. In the end, the conditions of the grapes were very good. The balance of sugar and acidity and the level of ripeness are very good (average rate superior to 25, average degree of alcohol at 10.5, acidity level at 6.98, pH at 3.12 and malic acid at 4.75).

The quality of Meunier and Pinot Noir grapes is outstanding with high levels of ripeness. Chardonnay grapes have slightly lower levels, but the quality is also very good. I have really loved this year’s harvest, first multi-color and then showing perfect balance between sugar and acidity. In order to achieve this, it was necessary to leave our comfort zone: walk all over the vineyards, taste the berries, understand the terroirs, meet our growers, take extra care at the press houses and at the winery. 

All of this only increased the passion that I have for my job. In such a particular context, the 2020 harvest is a message of hope. After 2018 and 2019, we will bottle another great year. And some very good wines will come out of our cellars once we finish the aging process in a few years.

 

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THE BOOKS (All in German)

Die Weisheit des Misthaufens - Expeditionen in die biodynamische Landwirtschaft, Verlag C.H. Beck, (2018)

Die Champagner-Macher (zusammen mit Oliver Rüther) →
Umschau Verlag, 2013

Wozu Sex? Von der Evolution der zwei Geschlechter →,
Deutsche Verlagsanstalt (DVA), (Gebundene Ausgabe - April 2006)

Rheingau & Wiesbaden. Reise- und Weinführer →
(zusammen mit Bernd Ditter, gebundene Ausgabe - August 2006)

Sonderedition von Das Loch im Walfisch →
Verlag Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft (Oktober 2003)

Das Loch im Walfisch. Die Philosophie der Biologie ,
Verlag Klett-Cotta (Gebundene Ausgabe - September 2003)

Champagner Geschenkset, Klett-Cotta, (Sondereinband - Juni 1998),
enthält das Buch Champagner sowie eine Flasche Champagne.

Champagner ,
Verlag Klett-Cotta (Gebundene Ausgabe - März 1998)

 









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