Five minutes with: Hervé Dantan

The chef de cave of Champagne Lanson from Maison Lanson talks the joy of French bread, food pairings and cycling in Normandy

Food and Drink 11 Nov 2020

Hervé Dantan, chef de cave of Champagne Lanson

What can you tell us about the new releases from Maison Lanson?
We have two new cuvées that have just been released in the UK – Le Black Réserve and Le Blanc de Blancs. Both wines came about following an idea we had for an approach revolving around gastronomy, shortly after my arrival in 2013. Black Réserve is in the same lineage of the Black Label, offering the same freshness and vitality but designed more to accompany fine dining, and made following a blending process taken to the extreme. It is made with a higher quantity of reserve wines than in our Black Label, mostly aged in casks to produce wines that are more mature, full and generous. Regarding our Blanc de Blancs, we sought to elevate the freshness of Maison Lanson’s chardonnays. So we cherry-picked our finest chardonnays from the most inspiring terroirs and our favourite crus to craft the ideal champagne to serve before and with a meal.

Can you give some examples of dishes that work well with Champagne Lanson?
In my profession I get the chance to travel and meet chefs of different nationalities, and I realise how much champagne can be combined with different types of cuisine. I love pairing seafood – Black Label with tartare de salmon or Blanc de Blancs with seabass sashimi. And I love the bold accords that show all the complexity of champagne, like vintage with foie gras parfait, or scrambled eggs with scallops and black truffle, or Iberico pork with braised shallot.

 What have you learned from the recent pandemic and working in lockdown?
Even if it has been difficult, in every negative situation, there is always a positive. We have been as equally concerned with the organisation of work as respecting the health of our employees and vinegrowers. Organising the harvest was particularly difficult in the vines and in our press houses. But this was done quite naturally as the men and women of Lanson have always been guided by helpfulness and love to others. Our relationships with our partner vinegrowers are now even stronger than they were before lockdown.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given in your career and why?
The love of a job well done but that humility and courage must always accompany it. And never think that you can’t improve.

Who is your role model and how have they influenced you in your work?
My parents. Their passion for vines, their ability to work hard, their kindness and their open-minded view of life inspire me every day. They taught me everything.

What ingredient can you not live without and why?
French bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In France and everywhere.

What item, apart from your passport, can you not travel without?
My iPhone – with music.

Where is your favourite place to eat in London and why?
I like to try local cuisine when travelling, and I would say The English Grill at The Rubens at the Palace is my favourite for British food. They have an amazing choice of fresh salmon which pairs perfectly with our Green Label Organic Champagne.

What do you like to do on a day off?
Go out for dinner, cook, spend some time with family, go on long walks or cycle in Champagne or Normandy (my wife is from Normandy).

Apart from wine and champagne, what are your biggest passions?
Cooking, music and sports (cycling, football).

If you could choose anyone from today or history, who would be your ideal dinner party guest and why?
Charles de Gaulle. This great man from French history rocked my childhood, we had family discussions about his personality and influence, and I have always been impressed by his charisma. I would be curious to see how he looks at the world today. Moreover, he was from Champagne, and I would have appreciated sharing his love of champagne.

Maison Lanson is launching two new cuvées within its Coeur de Gamme: Le Black Reserve and Le Blancs de Blancs, available exclusively at Selfridges from 12 November; from £54.99;