Was wine a vocation?
Absolutely. The question never arose. As soon as I left the third year of secondary school, I went straight to the wine school. My parents didn't force me to go to the vineyard, it was really a personal choice. It was more the vines than the wine that made me go into this profession. From the age of 14, like many sons of winegrowers, I went to the vineyards in summer. What I really like in a vineyard is the teamwork, the sharing, the training of others.
Anthony Lacroix's passion for the vine has been with him since childhood. He learned a lot from his parents, self-taught winegrowers, and has always admired their dedication to the family estate. He therefore obtained a Bachelor's degree in winemaking from a wine school in Avize, in his native Champagne region, after which completed a year of commercial training. It was at this same school that he met Céline, his future wife. Together, they acquired the knowledge necessary to manage a wine company and today run Champagne Lacroix.
Do you have any other passions?
Yes, of course I have them, and they have nothing to do with the vine. I play tennis and ride a motorbike. At first, it seems like the complete opposite, but when you look at it more closely, there are certain common values: the sensations, even in amateurism, and again the human contact, because I never go alone.
At your estate, wine is created by two...
Yes, I work in pairs with my wife Céline. Each of us have our parts. I take care of the "practical" part, i.e vines, wine and cellar. And my wife is more in charge of the administrative part. We come together on the commercial part, when choosing the branding, the animation of the events, customer reception, etc.
How did you bring your personality to the property?
The first year I arrived, we created the Anthony cuvée which is a 100% Meunier. Here in Champagne, we have three grape varieties, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier. The first two are very well known, the third much less so, even though for a long time it was the most planted grape variety in the region. When I arrived, I wanted to recreate this craze with a monovarietal wine.
I wanted to show Meunier was a variety with which we could create beautiful things, wines for pleasure.
Why are you so enthusiastic about Meunier?
My wine school was in Avize, in the heart of Côte des Blancs. For four years, I was surrounded by people who put aside the Meunier grape variety to work only with Chardonnay, and I wanted to show that it was a variety with which one could create beautiful things, wines for pleasure. Moreover, I started twenty years ago and I notice that today it is done more and more.
You are independent winegrowers. What does that mean?
An independent winegrower cultivates his vines, makes his wine and markets it. He doesn't buy grapes or anything else externally. We really manage all the stages of wine production, whether it is viti or viniculture. It was my parents who started it and it was important for us to continue.
Your domain has a rather recent history...
It was created in 1968. My father did not come from the profession at all, he started working with a winemaker in the village, and when he died, my father found himself with these rented vines. He had to learn everything and create the whole structure, with the help of my mother of course.
In 2010, we had the opportunity to modernise the production facility. My parents didn't think that the estate would grow to such an extent, so we were quite short of space. The advantage is that everything is on the same level, in one place and therefore very practical.
What are the values of your property?
It's mostly common sense. In other words, when we have to work with nature, we do it without worrying. Last year, for example, we treated very little. We really adapt to what nature gives us and play along with it.
We really do adapt to what nature gives us and play along with it.
What is your approach to viticulture?
We are sure of sustainable viticulture, with High Environmental Value certification. Above all, I seek to produce healthy grapes without any disease. Our aim is to really get healthy raw material to leave a beautiful product behind. When nature allows it, we use products like copper and sulfur.
What is your favourite time of year in the vineyard?
Pruning is undoubtedly the most interesting period for me. This is when you really sculpt the plant for the future harvest. It is extremely important, even more than the summer work. Without a well done pruning, there won't be gppd harvest.
Tell us about your terroir...
We are mostly sure of clay and limestone. In the Marne Valley, however, there is more clay than limestone. It is particularly suited to our grape varieties, especially to Meunier. It's a terroir that suits us perfectly, even if it's a bit capricious. We are on three hillsides with different exposures, so we have adapted the grape varieties.
You use enamel vats, tell us more...
Enamel is the right mix between stainless steel tank that is too neutral and an oak barrel that may be too present. The interior is very porous, and as we never use chemicals in the winery, only very hot water, we keep bacteria from previous years there. As a result, all the wines are different, and each vat will bring its particularity.