Champagne Lancelot Pienne – Interview With Julien Lancelot

10th July 2024

Champagne Lancelot-Pienne Interview With Julien Lancelot

The love of Champagne is infinite, a language that everyone can understand, a sparkle that can shine in anyone’s glass, it can connect people, brings them together and places a smile on faces around the world.

In this exclusive feature on Glass of Bubbly, we speak with Julien Lancelot, the passionate winemaker and determined owner of Champagne Lancelot Pienne, let’s discover a little about his life, his journey into the industry and one of his wonderful Champagne memories.

It’s Great To Speak With You, Julien, Can You Tell Us A Little About Yourself & How Your Journey Into The Champagne Industry Began?

“The pleasure is all mine! Thank you for this invitation. So I am Julien Lancelot, 5th generation of Champagne Lancelot, a young winemaker but a fierce knowledge seeker! Obviously, I was deep into Champagne at my youngest age – I still remember my holidays spent in the vineyard to help my dad- but at first, I wasn’t meant for that. I loved swimming, running, hiking, and being outside in fact. However, I also loved experimenting with things and creating in the meantime. When I grew up, my dad advised me to go on classes préparatoires then agronomic engineer and oenologist to keep feeding my brain about new potentiality and keeping an open mind. That was at this moment I think, that I saw how much you can do being a winemaker: outside in your plots, inside with your wines, experimenting with both to understand better life cycles and how showcasing terroir everytime and the most important: a job which is similar to a magnificent – but serious- game different every year.

So after studies and several internships in France- Bordeaux, Hermitage, Champagne- and abroad – New Zealand, Tasmania, Australia – I decided that it was enough working for others and I needed to get back to my Champagne House to follow all my ongoing experiments ongoing.”

Do You Remember Your First Experience With Champagne? When It Was And What Kind Of Label It Was?

“My first experience with Champagne !? It was not yesterday that’s for sure.. Quite young we were already allowed to have a small sip or to have a small glass with water inside just for us to know the taste – and train ourselves maybe! It might be just before I organized an international blind tasting that I discovered a whole new possibility with Champagne and mostly old Champagnes. I still remember a 2002 Dom Ruinart Champagne that held my thoughts for a moment thanks to its complexity and the wide pallet of aromas coming from it. Maybe my quest for passion and precision began at this time, I do not know.”

How Rewarding And Challenging Is Managing A Champagne House?

“The reward is of course the wines, when they are balanced and complex, making you willing to drink them whenever you get a chance to. But it is also the smile lighting up on people’s faces. I know I am doing the right job every time someone unknown comes to see me, discovers our Champagne and then I notice the spark in their eyes when talking with them. Champagne is about sharing, and sharing moments with passionate people and taking the time to discover us is the best reward we can get – even if I love it when my experiments also show well!

Challenging that’s for sure, you will never spend a day without something new coming up to make it harder! But in the end, you will always find a solution because you are never alone. That’s all the point of working in the wine industry and in a family business, my father is always here to guide everything in the right direction, our colleagues are always ready to give a hand and in the hardest moments, the rest of the family is here too. No challenge can be huge enough once you are well supported. So yes, managing viticulture, winemaking, marketing and administration on the same day is always challenging but that’s what makes our days busy and always more interesting.”

When It Comes To Pairing Champagne With Food, Do You Have Any Favourite Combinations That You Would Personally Recommend?

“Oh! You must know that as I’m French, I do love to eat! And I do love pairing wines & Champagne! I will give you two different ones that I tried not so long ago which were lovely:

First, one that I know quite well, is our Rosé. This paired with roast lamb and thyme was marvellous for Easter, it was quite powerful on the nose but kept a lot of tension which allowed it to not be overthrown by the spices of the lamb!

Second, a Pinot Noir through oak from Reims mountain paired with a Tikka Masala. So much spice that you could lose your mind but the naan bread and basmati allowed to mitigate the spice to let the wine and the dishes merge and reveal themselves even better together.

And any Champagne which has enough salinity to wake up my tastebuds and make me want to play with pairing possibilities – I also love the cheese & Champagne ones!”

What Future Plans Can Enthusiasts Of Champagne Lancelot Pienne Look Forward To In The Coming Years?

“Without spoiling everything, a lot! We have recently mastered our malolactic fermentation (since 2018) so the wines we are releasing are already getting better and better. Since 2017, we have started to vinificate even more plot by plot – we have 79 of them – to understand each one of them and their potential. Our blends happen only in July allowing us to find the perfect plots that match together and not because they are supposed to go together since they are Grand Cru or from the same area. However single plot cuvées are going to be released soon.

And even more recently we have bought 600L oak barrels, widening our wines by letting us have more breath at first, blending these last with our stainless steel to have even more spices. We are experimenting a lot with plots into stainless steel tanks to keep terroir and tension as well as steam barrels allowing us to give wider wines without too oaky flavors. And even more recently we have been working on white and red wines. I start to experiment also with maceration and other kinds of winemaking possibilities. I think that keeping things exciting is the most important as well as gaining knowledge through passion in action! I love this part of my job.”

Can You Share With Us One Of The Most Memorable Experiences You’ve Enjoyed With A Glass of Bubbly?

“Is it a cliché to say my brother’s wedding? Champagne is about wines of course but it is also about moments and the greater the moment the better the Champagne is right? So yes, I was deeply happy when we poured the Champagne into the glass at my brother’s wedding – and the Champagne was quite good as well!

Another experience was with some friends when we wanted to compare and learn from Champagne. We had a blind tasting from bottles of the same wine but different vintages, the same area to compare with others areas, same wine but aged with corked or with crown caps. It was intense but I realized how much you can affect wine and how precise you had to be to keep the terroir intact and to reveal it without adding any taste that might hide what the terroir was supposed to taste like. You have to be able to do everything and to not do a single thing at the end !”

Thank you Julien, for sharing your story and experiences with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!

Images belong to Julien Lancelot. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission to use them.

Oliver Walkey

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.