2015 Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Cramant Champagne Lancelot Pienne

Grapes Chardonnay
Colour White
Origin France, Champagne
Village Cramant
Classification Grand Cru
ABV 12%

Named for one of their daughters, the 2015 Cuvée Marie Lancelot is pure Cramant, from six parcels of vines in the village. Very Cramant, which is to say creamy and quite full with a rich intense flavour overlaying the saline, gunflint and refined spine, and finishing on a chalky tightness. Quite an intellectual style, it's polished purity is a joy. L&S (Oct 2021)

*Case price discount: Mix any 12 bottles of wine (or 9 litre equivalent) or 6 bottles of Champagne, Spirits, Sweet Wine or Fortified (4.5 litres) to get the discounted 'case price' for each bottle.

This cuvée is always one vintage, one village, one grape. They chose Cramant in 2015. The family has 27 Chardonnay plots there with different expositions and for this they selected eight of those plots. 50-year-old vines. Stainless-steel vinification, each plot vinified separately. 100% malo. Tirage in May 2016. Dosage 2.8 g/l.
Lovely, lovely nuttiness in this. Cobnuts, a bit of praline, and crushed almonds. Salted caramel crisps. Very, very fresh green-apple fruit, sweet florals, apple sherbet. This is really good. Fills the centre. Long, centred, complete.
Drinking range: 2023 - 2030 Rating: 17.5 Tamlyn Currin - (Jun 2023)

Lots of excitement and tension here. Very pure and dry with masses of energy. Much more 21st century than the other Blanc de Blancs shown by The Bunch (Champagne Legras & Haas). But with an undertow of real class. Bone-dry finish. 12% Drinking range: 2022 - 2025 Rating: 17 Jancis Robinson OBE MW - (Oct 2022)

The 2015 Extra Brut Marie Lancelot Grand Cru is a pure Chardonnay from Cramant, opening with instant creaminess alongside sponge cake and chalk, while fresh apple and lemon follow. Fine, smooth mousse underlines the chalkiness here while gentle freshness makes the mouth water. Slenderness and tenderness of flavor suggest the chalky depth, despite the warmth of 2015 that makes this a rather rounded, smooth yet sophisticated proposition. Dosage is 2.8gr/L. Disgorged: April, 2021. Drinking range: 2023 - 2030 Rating: 91 Anne Krebiehl MW, (Nov 2023)

Champagne Lancelot Pienne

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 Épernay 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 élevage 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 Cuvée 'La Table Ronde'.

Critic's favourite grower Champagne mixed six

The wines in this case reflect the amazing nuance and individuality of ‘grower’ Champagne, as well as the astonishing quality that buying direct from the vigneron affords. Just don’t delay, as we have a limited quantity of cases and they won’t last.

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