Lanson Wimbledon Champagne Cooler Jackets

Wimbledon season is once again upon us in the UK which means two weeks where people are allowed to go tennis crazy even if they’re not too bothered by the sport.  The drinkers among us, whatever their sporting pleasure, have something else to look forward to; the return of the Wimbledon Lanson Champagne cooler jacket.

Lanson have been supplying Champagne to the thirsty spectators of the tennis tournament since 1977 and became the official supplier in 2001.  The brand have long been producing specially designed cooler jackets, such as their super-cute Christmas editions, and their 2012 editions to commemorate both the London Olympics and the Queen’s 60th Jubilee Celebrations.

Lanson 2009

Although a simple purple zip up design had been produced in 2009, it was 2013 that saw them pair the two activities together in earnest, beginning what has become a popular yearly tradition.  Let’s take a look at some of the previous designs.

2013 – Ball Boy

The famous Black Label Brut NV came dressed in a ball boy’s purple tennis shirt, with buttons to the top, and a collar trimmed with green/purple.  The Rosé Label Brut NV naturally came in a pink t-shirt variant with purple/white trim, whilst the White Label Sec Brut NV was dressed in a white t-shirt with green/purple trim.  All were adorned with the Wimbledon Championships logo.

Lanson 2013

2014 / 2015 – Tennis Ball

This time around the Brut and Rosé came dressed as tennis balls, the Brut in custom yellow ball colour, and the Rosé in an appropriate pink shade.  Both neoprene jackets were finished off with a detachable Lanson branded charm to the rear zip (this was replaced with a fixed yellow tennis ball for the 2015 re-issue).

Lanson Tennis Ball

Lanson Tennis Ball v2

The White Label Sec came in a specially designed bottle wrap rather than a cooler jacket.

2016 – Ball Boy v2

Taking its cue from the 2013 design, this second ball boy variant substitutes the previous buttoned shirt design for zips, adorned with yellow tennis balls (as per the 2015 release) on the openers.  The Black Label Brut NV was now housed in a blue jacket, as opposed to the previous purple colour.

Lanson Ballboy v2

2017 / 2018 – Tennis Court

Each of the 3 bottles are currently available in lawn green jackets with the front ‘label’ in the appropriate colour for the bottle housed within.

Lanson Tennis Court

An exclusive design of the recently introduced Green Label Brut Organic Cuvée was produced to commemorate the 150th year of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club.  This was only available at club events and for its members.

Many of the jackets throughout the years have been available in multiple bottle sizes including 20cl, 37.5cl, 75cl and magnum.  In addition a limited 20cl yellow ‘Polo’ version of the t-shirt design was available through specialist retailers, such as Selfridges.

Lanson Yellow

As each of the 3 designs have now been used twice, next year (Lanson’s 42nd year of association with the tournament) should see a completely new design produced.

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Laithwaites Autumn Press Tasting – Standout Sparklers!

One of the suppliers I rely on for my wine consumption is Laithwaites.  Having been a customer of theirs for several years and liking to taste widely I was comfortable that I had tasted a good portion of their wines on offer.

I found out how wrong I was at their recent Autumn tasting, held at their flagship London store near to London Bridge.  My pre-tasting strategy was originally going to focus on tasting familiar wines in a critical environment and trying the wider ranges of my favourite producers but, as it transpired, I had only tasted a mere handful of the wines presented.

laith-press-taste

Upon arrival I was warmly greeted by wine buyer Beth Willard who has been responsible for sourcing some of my previously blogged about favourites from Romania (Paris Street) and I spent the afternoon tasting alongside such luminaries as Justin Howard-Sneyd MW, Julia Harding MW and Victoria Moore (wine correspondent for the Telegraph).

With 155 wines on show I managed to taste just over half of them over the course of several hours.  I won’t go too far in to detailed tasting notes as these can be a chore to read if you’re not a Laithwaites customer and think you may never ever taste the wine, but I will pick out my highlights; wines that I felt privileged to taste or producers that I think you may consider to follow in the future.

In this first half of my report I will list my favourites amongst the Sparkling wines on offer.

Laithwaites Theale Vineyard Chardonnay 2011, Berkshire, England, 12%, £24.99

These vineyards and the Laithwaites head office are only a short drive away from where I live in Berkshire and so I will always be a big supporter.  The 2011 vintage in the UK was something of a roller-coaster with a great start followed by a lack-lustre summer followed by great harvesting conditions.

This pure Chardonnay had a lovely light and airy palate, a fresh and quaffable mousse and focussed on the citric forward lemon qualities.  With a touch of nice bitterness on the back palate to add some substance, this was at once immediate and yet structured enough to see some mid-range ageing.

Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV Champagne, France, 12%, £42

Charles Heidsieck continually win award after award and so I naturally gravitated towards this bottle.  A lovely gold colour in the glass and a rich bold lemon flavour on the nose, this blends complexity with a light quaffability that just evaporates in the mouth.

Given that 40% of this NV blend comes from reserve wines that can be over a decade old it’s easy to understand how they marry such depth with such immediacy.  Long-lasting finish.

blanc-des-millenaires-95

Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1995, Champagne, France, 12%, £120

Moving up the quality ladder and on to their prestige offering I must admit that I didn’t spit this wine out as tasting etiquette would dictate, and I also went back for seconds!

There is the customary biscuit and bread notes of a lees aged Champagne on the nose. With 21 years under its belt this wine manages to retain an awesome freshness with a lush acid that makes the palate almost evaporate.  As well as the customary citrus notes there is a lovely moodiness that permeates throughout.  Delicious.

I’ll leave it there for the Sparkling on show (with a small apology that the above doesn’t even touch upon the myriad of different levels of Prosecco available), but a final honourable mention must go to the:

Lanson Noble Cuvée Brut 2000, Champagne, France, 12.5%, £90

I’d personally had two bottles of this previously and the first showed wonderfully, being both fresh for 16 years old, as well as deep with honeyed ageing characters.

The second bottle that I opened, which I did with friends on a special occasion, had an over-whelming blue cheese nose that carried on to the palate.  I hastily retired the bottle believing it to be something of a fault but, when trying the Vintage again at this tasting, the blue cheese note was once again evident.

I chatted this through with wine buyer Davy Zyw who could detect what I was referring to but felt it was a natural part of the overall evolution of the wine as opposed to a fault.  It was certainly interesting to compare them but I remain unconvinced that the cleaner wine was the odd one out.

Checking the official Lanson tasting notes it certainly makes no mention of it, and offers up traits of honey, pear and spices instead.  It therefore remains a mystery to me at this time as to which bottle wasn’t showing correctly.  Intriguing.

In my next piece based on the tasting I will go in to the best of the whites and reds that I tried and would recommend.

With thanks to MHP Communications and Laithwaites for inviting me to this event.

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