LA TABLE RONDE
Blanc de Blancs Champagne Lancelot Pienne NV
Gilles describes this as the identity card of the domaine. It is made from Chardonnays from around twenty plots located on three Grand Crus terroirs of the Côte des Blancs (Cramant 60%, Avize 10%, Chouilly 30%). 'The Grail in in the bottle, but don't tell anybody'. Open on the nose, very immediate in its appeal, and straight away you want to swallow - there's a delicate salinity, a chalky, almost gunflinty minerality, then a light bitterness. All in delicacy but that the same time not without power, and a lovely mineral dry finish. L&S (Oct 2021)
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To be frank, Table Ronde is the ‘identity card’ of the House of Lancelot-Pienne, its reference, its style at its purest! This blanc de blancs is produced with chardonnays from about twenty plots on the three grand crus terroirs in the Côte des Blancs (Cramant, Avize, Chouilly). Soil: chalk Vineyard age: 50 years Winemaking in temperature controlled stainless steel vats guarantees a ‘high definition’ expression of Côte des Blancs and offers wine lovers the best they can expect. Alcoholic fermentation at stabilized 18-20°C temperature. Controlled malolactic fermentation 100% Issued from the 2017 harvest, the core of the cuvée (80%) is blended with earlier Chardonnay wines stored under the ‘Solera’ system, a long-term reserve solely made of Chardonnays from our Grands Crus terroirs of the previous 14 years. Bottling takes place in July: with more open and better-defined wines, champagne composition can be achieved more adequately and accurately. In the mouth, Table Ronde tastes slightly of “wet chalk” (make no mistake, this is not a flaw, quite the contrary!), as well as salt induced by the terroir’s chalk and “flint” for its minerality. In this cuvée, Gilles Lancelot has sought to use dosage sugar (3.5g/l) as one would do salt in cuisine: to enhance taste and promote precision and harmony in the wine. Winemaker's notes (Jan 2022)
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'.
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