Lanson, the Green Revolution

Sep 16, 2020 • 2 mins

With the launch of Green Label in 2018, its first organic cuvée, we are seeing a paradigm shift at Lanson. Far from being just an epiphenomenon or marketing proposition, this champagne, produced with grapes from a pilot domaine, is paving the way for more environmentally-friendly viticultural practices which will eventually be rolled out to all of Lanson’s vineyards.

This cuvée is the result of eight years’ careful reflexion. The project has been nearly a decade in the making, ever since maison Lanson purchased domaine de la Malmaison, in december 2010. The acquisition of the domaine’s 15.82 hectares of vines, located in the commune of Verneuil to the west of Épernay, led to the development of a new strategy, initiated by Jérôme Courgey, Lanson’s vineyard manager since April 2011, and cellar master, Hervé Dantan.

Now an experimental laboratory, this enclave of around thirty plots was previously cultivated biodynamically by its former owner, Leclerc-Briant. The plantings, which have since been restored to perfect condition, are composed of Pinot Noir (48%), Chardonnay (34%) and Meunier, as well as 20 ares of Pinot Blanc, and now form the basis of the new “Green Label” cuvée. The first bottles were released in France in May 2018 and are made from a blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay and 30% Meunier from the 2013 vintage as well as around 10% of 2012 reserve wines.

The new cuvée is certified by Ecocert, Demeter, Biosuisse and USDA Organic (U.S. certification). It is forging a new path for Lanson, a path towards sustainable and organic viticulture.

“This is the starting point rather than the end point” insists Hervé Dantan. “We need to change our production habits. We can’t continue with our old ways”. It is also an investment in the future and represents Lanson’s commitment to new practices, adds CEO Philippe Baijot, who has given his team free rein and all the resources it requires (even if that means that production costs have risen to 12 euros per kilo).

Jérôme Courgey is deeply committed to this “cultural revolution” (cultural in both senses of the word!) and has big plans for the future. He wants to gradually convert all of Lanson’s vineyards, including the 500 hectares belonging to its supplier growers, to “natural” growing practices with “no pesticides and no ploughing”. The objective is to respect the natural balance of the vine and the environment by restoring their natural biodiversity which has long been overlooked. Green Label is just the first opus coming out of this transformation.