What an amazing evening we had at Inner Temple on Wednesday, 13th May. It almost felt like summer as we sipped Lanson champagne on the Pegasus Terrace in the evening light at the heart of legal London.
It was an evening of many parts – in fact, as I was soon to discover, not unlike the process of making champagne. We moved from the terrace to the fantastic Main Hall with its oak panelled walls adorned with heraldic shields and historic paintings to enjoy a tasting of under the careful and informative guidance of Hervé Dantan, Chef de Cave, of the house of Lanson. I learned that a vin clair is the base wine for champagne; they can use up to 5 different base wines and are from chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes, the only grape varieties permitted in the making of this most delicious of drinks. The grapes are always from the local area and blended to create Lanson Non Vintage. Getting the balance of these is vital, as year-on-year, the champagne has to maintain the Lanson house style. So many facts affect the process and some days, the winemakers just might not feel up to making the blend – so they don’t.
We then had a suitably complementary dinner with the most amazingly full-bodied Rupert & Rothschild Baron Edmond 2009 red from South Africa with our main course; it was wonderful. Naturally we finished with even more champagne, this time – a refreshing Lanson Rosé. Marketors-Lanson_Dinner 463After dinner we had a very special treat when two senior members of the Confrerie du Sabre d’Or demonstrated Sabrage the art of cutting off the top of a champagne bottle with a sabre! Now this was extraordinary – I thought they just cut the cork off the bottle – but no, they actually cut through the glass and the cork! I examined this closely and it was a very clean cut. I was later told this is all down to the angle of the sabre and bottle together with the psi of the champagne bubbles waiting to delight us (yep – me too!).
It was a great evening altogether and many thanks to our Master, Andrew Marsden and Court Assistant Jane Wharam for bringing this very special and certainly unique occasion together for us to enjoy. Thanks also to Paul Beavis and Hervé Dantan of Lanson for their generosity and to Ken Chaproniere and Gerard O’Shea of the Confrerie du Sabre d’Or for sheer pluck and showmanship.