Champagne Lancelot Pienne

France, Champagne
http://www.champagne-lancelot-pienne.fr/

Gilles Lancelot, a qualified oenologist, is the fourth generation of his family to have his own vines in Cramant. It was his grandfather Jean who became the first one in the family sell his own Champagne, shortly after the second world war. Gilles' father Albert married Brigitte Pienne, from another Champagne-producing family, and she brought with her the vines in the south 脡pernay hills (in Mancy and Monthelon) and the Marne valley.

The 8.3 hectares of vineyard supply all their grapes, so as Gilles says, they know exactly what goes into each bottle. 3 hectares are in the Grand Cru villages of Cramant, Avize and Chouilly, another 2-3 in Mancy and Monthelon, and the rest in the Marne valley, including Bisseuil. The domaine is 60% Chardonnay, 30% Meunier and 10% Pinot Noir. They have 70 different parcels of vines, which demand a lot of attention, but give a wide palette when it comes to blending.

The vineyard is certified HVE3, and the approach is 'balanced viticulture'. The domaine is entirely worked by their own employees and soils and ploughed and only organic fertiliser is used. They try to use only natural treatments to stimulate the vines to defend themselves. Gilles wants ripe grapes in good condition and is, as he puts it, quite slow to pick, but 'but then again you have to preserve the acidity too'. The vinifications are entirely in stainless steel to preserve the purity of their Chardonnay, and the 茅levage continues until bottling in July - the object being to make wines which are straight and pure, all in delicacy, with freshness as well as aromas and flavours. Malolactic fermentation is a choice - for example in 2017 all the wines went through malo, but in the very ripe vintage of 2018, all were blocked.

There's a temptation, of course, if you are called Lancelot, to refer to the Arthurian legends, and it's a temptation that is irresistible if you then marry a girl whose maiden name is Perceval. As Gilles says, at least they didn't name their children Arthur and Guinevere. But the winery dog is called Hector (Hector de Maris was Lancelot's half-brother). Watch this space - when their son takes over, the domaine may change its name to Lancelot-Perceval. All of which explains the discreet logo and the name of the Cuv茅e 'La Table Ronde'.

Gilles Lancelot produces lean, light, bright and crisp, spring-like Champagnes of remarkable purity and freshness. To obtain the clear and straight house style, the wines are fermented in stainless steel. The finest wines are Blanc de Blancs from grands crus in the C么te des Blancs. Stephan Reinhart, The Wine Advocate, erobertparker.com  (Jun 2016)