When Manchester United shoot for goal at Hong Kong Stadium next month their own private bubbly will be fizzing in the private boxes. The venerable House of Lanson from France is doing a special bottling for the football team; drink a couple of flutes of this stuff and you'll prance around like Ryan Giggs. You don't have to be a professional footballer, however, to enjoy Lanson. The Black Label dry version of the noble champagne ($260 retail) is on restaurant wine lists, on sale in wine shops and served by some airlines. This is a classic champagne. The colour sparkles, the explosive bubbles literally get up your nose and the taste is invigorating and sprightly on the palate. It is a joy to drink. It is also classic in its composition with pinot noir, chardonnay and meunier grapes blended to give a bright, full wine that hints of a lemony lightness. This is the perfect pre-luncheon aperitif. The company was founded in 1760 by Jean-Baptiste Lanson, a jovial magistrate in the regional capital of Reims. As the idea of wine with bubbles spread across Europe, Lanson became a source of champagne for the monarchs of Spain, Sweden and England. Today it is a major part of the Marne and Champagne group, the second largest sparkling wine house of the region and the largest family-owned firm. The grapes come from more than 120 villages and 320 hectares of vine spread across the chalky soils of the region. Because the secret of a great champagne is in the delicate blending process, it gives strength to a house to source its wines from as many prime vineyards as possible. Most Lanson champagnes contain grapes from more than 50 different wines. Output is enormous, with up to 160,000 bottles a day being dispatched and with 70 million bottles slowly maturing in the deep, man-made cavernous cellars dug through the limestone. The cellars stretch for seven kilometres, all lined with champagne. When the fruit is picked and crushed, the juice is stored separately in vats. It stays there for a year until the cellarmaster decides on the precise mixture of the blend needed to produce Lanson's distinctive character. As well as the dry brut, there are two sister wines on sale. The rose sparkling wine ($378) seems to me to deserve special attention. If champagne is reserved for special occasions, then this delicate salmon-hued version has to celebrate something really extraordinary. The attractive tint to the wine smells of roses, so an idea is to give this as a wedding present or for an anniversary. It tastes a little more mature and round than the brut and well chilled is a marvellous method of fighting off the effects of a muggy summer day. Like most major champagne companies, Lanson only declares a vintage - making the wine from grapes picked in only one year - when there is a prime harvest. The summer of 1989 was a splendid one in northern France and the vintage of that year ($420) explodes with a wonderful aroma of apples and flowers. They say you can drink champagne with anything, for any reason, any time you feel like it, and that certainly applies to this wonderful drop.