With Paul Beavis of Lanson Champagne Words by Mark Dawson
For more than two and a half centuries, using the unchanged and unimproveable method that distinguishes their empress, winemakers have been crafting fine champagne at the House of Lanson. This noble tradition survives and thrives today, with each Lanson cuvée aged under the watchful eye, nose, and palate of its cellarmaster for a minimum of three and a half years, ensuring both an extraordinary purity of fruit flavour and the integrity to continue developing in the bottle.
Chef de Caves Hérve Dantan is the latest in that proud line of Lanson masters to bring the virtues of classical blending techniques to the pursuit of excellence, in preparation and presentation of champagnes of a distinctive, glorious, and unmistakeable individuality. The Lanson Vintage Collection exemplifies the marriage of the finest selection of grapes of a single year from Grand and Premier Cru vineyards with the skill, passion, and devotion of a supreme winemaker. The Extra Age NV range, created in 2010 to celebrate Lanson’s 250th anniversary, recapitulates through meticulous and skilful blending the complex and fresh style traditional to Lanson Champagnes since 1760.
Perhaps more than any other wine, champagne is enjoyed for its own charm and presence. However Paul Beavis, MD for the UK and North America at Champagne Lanson, a firm believer in the alchemic, often magical, interaction of food and wine, is equally firm in his belief that champagne has an important part to play in that process. “Food pairing is an art in itself and with our unique range of Champagnes, we can honestly say there is something for everyone to enjoy at the start and right through to the end of a meal if the pairings are finely matched.”
So we set him a challenge: four dishes from the game recipes in this issue, four Lanson champagnes to match. To be fair, Paul was unfazed, nonchalant even.
Game terrine, quince purée, pickled mushrooms
Pair with: Lanson Extra Age Brut NV
Extra Age Brut NV is a multi-vintage blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and delights with its intensity. The subtle extra weight provided by the dark grape pairs wonderfully with rich dishes such as this terrine, with aromas of fig, winter pear and honey combining with classic brioche notes for a full-bodied complexity with finesse and freshness.
Breast of mallard, borlotti beans, aubergine caviar and sloe gin
Pair with: Lanson Noble Cuvée Brut 2002
The subtle presence of summer pear and citrus fruit flavours really enhance this mallard dish. The 2000 and 2002 are reminiscent of some of Lanson’s most historic vintages: pale gold in colour with a myriad of fine bubbles, with white fruit aromas enhanced by mature and complex notes of honey and spices.
Pheasant Wellington with confit cooked pheasant Leg
Pair with: Lanson Extra Age Brut Rosé NV
Another robust challenge, another fine response. A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from three outstanding vintages – 2002, 2004 and 2005 – this rosé combines classic freshness with generous fruitiness in a complex yet graceful blend. Pale pink, with fine bubbles and red berry notes, this blend of wild strawberry, redcurrant and red-fleshed peach flavours with an exceptional fresh finish would be an excellent accompaniment to most red meats, and in particular this pheasant.
Roast cutlet of venison, braised haunch sausage roll, caramelised figs and port sauce
Pair with: Lanson Noble Cuvée Brut Rosé 2002 NV
Tricky on paper, but the myriad and sensually stimulating roseate elements of Paul’s selection make it the perfect choice for venison. Delightful traces of dried rose and berry give way to delicate balanced acidity and ripe fruit flavours for an inspired complement to the venison’s more immediate weight.