Gilles Lancelot-" We don't want wine that is the same every year, but we do want a house style. We are looking to make wines that are very fine and very fresh."
The Lancelot family have been growers for more than 120 years. In the early 1900's, Jean Baptiste Lancelot besides growing his own vines in Cramant, was the head winemaker for Champagne Mumm. His son Jean after working at a number of houses began producing wines under the Lancelot name shortly after the second world war.
One of Jeans sons, Albert, after studying winemaking, married Bridgette Pienne who's family also possessed prime vineyards in the village of Chouilly. In 1967 the properties were combined to create the house of Lancelot-Pienne. Their son Gilles, a trained oenologist took the helm in 1995 and continues to raise the standards of this excellent estate.
Champagne is a serious business for the intelligent and experienced Gilles Lancelot, owner-winemaker at Lancelot-Pienne, but there's room for fun with the wine names for his 8ha of grand and premier cru vines spread across 20 small parcels in the Cotes des Blancs. "It's harder to work this way but it gives us more complexity and a better expression of the soil", he says of his scattered estate. Production is 70,000 bottles per year, with pinot noir bought from a friend in Bouzy to help male the 4,000 btls of rose. No oak is used
As you would expect from a blanc de blancs specialist, citrus fruit flavours, white flowers and minerality dominate. The Cuvee de la Table Ronde plays off the knighthood theme inferred by Gilles family name, and it was impossible to resist calling one of the special cuvees Perceval, another knight, as this was his wife's maiden name. Only 800 bottles of that are produced each year. The prestige cuvee Marie(3,000btls) is a blanc de blancs named after their first daughter.
The standard blanc de blancs and Tradition blend are typically 80% single vintage and the balance reserve wines. The Selection is always released a year older than the Tradition and is intended to be a 'party wine"- made to be drunk before, during and after a meal. It is the most rounded and approachable of the wines, showing flavours of orange peel, butter, almond and hints of hazelnut and nougat. A Brut Nature version of the Table Ronde was released at the suggestion of leading Freench wine critic Michel Bettane and now accounts for 50% of this cuvee. Showing more chalkiness and salinity than the regular version.
Since 2005, Gilles, a graduate oenologist and winemaker has been in charge of the estate. Steeped in family traditions and trained under his father, he is now perpetuating the image and character of their champagnes.
"This producer lives in the finest house in Cramant (which once belonged to Mumm) with a unique view of the prestigious vineyards of the commune. We love the subtle minerality here, characteristic of the great wines of Cramant. The Cuvee Round Table compares well with the famous Mumm de Cramant. The new extra-brut version broadens the audience, even if we prefer the standard brut" - Bettane & Desseauve