son dates to 1760, making it one of Champagne’s oldest grande marque houses. An early owner, Jean-Baptiste Lanson, was a Knight of the Order of Malta, and he inspired the company’s signature trademark, a red Maltese cross. This noble heritage is matched by a reputation for producing equally noble wines. The Lanson 1998 Brut Noble Cuvée (www.lanson.com, $185) is one of a trio of magnificent prestige cuvées from the house, its siblings being a forward Blanc de Blancs and a superb nonvintage rosé. The Brut contains 70 percent grand cru Chardonnay and 30 percent grand cru Pinot Noir. Because Lanson does not employ malolactic fermentation, the wine remains racy and tangy and exhibits captivating toast notes, perfect finesse, and a lingering finish. The bottle is a replica of the one used by the house in the 18th century.