Francis Tribut, Proprietor of Champagne Lallier

Our champers fanatic chats with Francis Tribut about the changes he has made in recent years and changing his Non-Vintage labelling 

Q&A with Kyle Ridington Courtesy of Kyle’s Champagne Made me do it blog 

Champagne Lallier located in one of the most historic towns with neighbors such as Bollinger, Ayala, Deutz and Henri Giraud. The Grand Cru village of Aÿ carries a high expectation of quality and notoriety. Lallier was founded in 1906 by a German, James Lallier and later ran by his son Rene-James. In 2003 when Rene-James was seeking retirement and wanted to sell the domaine, his trusted oenologist consultant Francis Tribault was given first consideration.

What are the most significant changes you’ve made since taking over the domaine?
Vinification, I use less sulfites and less enzymes. To be precise, I use 30ml of sulfites compared to the average Champagne house that ranges between 60ml to 80ml. Second, I created a homemade yeast from a dry yeast freezer mistake in 2007. I tried the dry yeast strand in the 2008 pinot noir from Aÿ but it did not work, however, it worked with the Loridon chardonnay perfectly. I then tried it again in 2009 and in 1/3 of the two previous vintages. Lastly, I turned the focus of Lallier to only pinot noir and chardonnay primarily from Grand Cru villages.

Explain the style of Champagne you produce?
I produce a fresh style of Champagne predominant with pinot noir backed by a higher percentage of chardonnay than what we had used in the past. I like my Champagne to showcase secondary aromas accompanied with primary aromas, which can be achieved through lees aging. Lastly, I make wine for people to enjoy.
What is the idea behind parting ways with the Non-Vintage label and moving into your Serie R. line?
Serie R is Lallier’s new entry level line that informs the consumer what is in the bottle. Francis’s vision is to be transparent to the consumer and the vintage while not hiding behind a NV (non-vintage) category.
For example a Lallier label would read Serie R.010 (‘R.’ is short for rélcolte and translates to harvest. ‘010’ represents the year 2010 that is the predominant vintage in the bottle. If a ‘N’ following the vintage code appears it stands for Brut Nature. A drier style of the same wine achieved by a lower dosage between 0-3g/l.

What exactly does non-vintage mean? Wines such as Burgundy and Bordeaux don’t use non-vintage.
I wanted to express the vintage character with 80-90 per cent of the current vintage and up to 20 per cent of three past vintage reserve wines. I use the reserves wines the same way a Chef uses spices.

I noticed that your Champagne rosé is now 100 per cent Grand Cru from previously being Premier Cru. When was the change made and why?
I made the change two years ago in 2014. It was easier to blend red wine from the Grand Cru village Aÿ and call it a Grand Cru rosé.

How many hectares do you own versus how many do you lease? 
I own fifteen hectares and I lease thirty hectares. We oversee fifty percent of the thirty hectares leased so in total our team operates 66 percent of our vineyard holdings.
What are your thoughts of zero dosagé Champagnes?
Sommelier don’t love sugar, consumers do. In the end it is all about balance. The sugar is not used to add aromas but to enhance them. Zero dosagé Champagnes are for certain times. For example in the summer with oysters plus they don’t have the effervescence or texture that Champagne with a dosagé carry.

What is more influential; terroir or the winemaker in Champagne?
The winemaker. Everything from yeast strands to oak to lees aging are all decisions made by the winemaker. Non-Vintage cuvèes with a high level of reserve wines and assemblage that are utilized to achieve a similar taste each year has nothing to do with terroir. riddle_stop 2


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