In 1991 the Champagne region was shocked by the sudden and premature death of Jean-Charles Duval-Leroy of the prestigious maison of the same name. As the other producers held their collective breaths, the widow Carol Duval-Leroy, calmly took the reins and twenty years later the company has soared to new heights– Duval-Leroy champagne is served in the most prestigious restaurants in the world including Per Se in New York and the exceptional Les Crayeres in Reims In 1991 the Champagne region was shocked by the sudden and premature death of Jean-Charles Duval-Leroy of the prestigious maison of the same name. As the other producers held their collective breaths, the widow Carol Duval-Leroy, calmly took the reins and twenty years later the company has soared to new heights– Duval-Leroy champagne is served in the most prestigious restaurants in the world including Per Se in New York and the exceptional Les Crayeres in Reims.
After the quick trip from Paris Gare du Nord to Epernay we were picked up by Michel Oliveira, the Assistant General Director and grape buyer who gave us a brief tour of one of the most prized parcels. This (2012) has been a most unusual year with persistent rain and little sunshine–a challenge for caviste Sandrine Logette-Jardin. copyright Egmont Labadie It was now time for a visit to HQ and the pristine, modern winemaking facility. It is here that Mme. Loggett-Jardin, one of only two female cavistes in Champagne does her magic, employing the most sophisticated modern technology including robotics, in partnership with traditional practices. Although riddling is now done mechanically, eight craftsmen continue to riddle a select quantity by hand and are passing on the tradition to the next generation. RIDDLING-After aging, the lees must be consolidated for removal. The bottles undergo a process known as riddling (remuage in French.) In this stage, the bottles are placed on special racks called pupitres that hold them at a 45° angle, with the crown cap pointed down. Once a day (every two days for Champagne), the bottles are given a slight shake and turn, alternatively on right then left, and dropped back into the pupitres, with the angle gradually increased. The drop back into the rack causes a slight tap, pushing sediments toward the neck of the bottle. In 10 to 14 days (8 to 10 weeks for Champagne), the position of the bottle is straight down, with the lees settled in the neck. (This time can be shortened by moving the bottle more than once a day, and/or by using modern, less sticky strains of yeast.)
This was all just a prelude to our tasting of the diversity of the wines of Duval-Leroy including Fleur de Champagne Brut 1er cru, the Brut Rosé and La Femme de Champagne. And for something very different the 2012 that had not yet been bottled and was missing the magic bubbles. Now floating on the clouds we were hosted by Mme.Duval-Leroy at the Chateau Les Crayères in Reims for a white-gloved service fit for a king, or at least the Baron of Brooklyn! Chef Philippe Mille has justifiably earned his second Michelin star and we were ushered into the private dining room with a view of the gardens that no doubt was the scene of many a glamorous evening when the chateau was the de Polignac family home in Champagne.
No sooner were we settled and a selection of breads served that Mme. Duval-Leroy launched the event with a flute of her Fleur de Champagne Brut 1er Cru that had been poured from one of several magnums. We continued with the Rosé prestige 1er Cru and Araignée de mer (Spider crab) aux agrumes confits Purée de broccolis bio, pomme Granny Smith. Quintessence de carapace liée avec son corail. copyright Egmont Labadie Chef Mille selected an Authentis”Bouzy” 2005 for the Dos de turbot doré au sautoir Artichauts poivrades en barigoule Jus de cuisson perlé d’huile d’olive de chez Tripodi
With the entrecote de veau caramélisée au beurre demi-sel Grolles et gnocchi cuisinés au vin d’Arbois the fantastic, Femme de Champagne 1996 No lavish cheese tray today, just a perfect tranche of Comté de garde affiné par Bernard Antony accompanied by a Millésime 1982. Our final flute was the Lady Rose that matched the color of the Mousseline de biscuit rose et pamplemousse, Rafraichi d’un sorbet Champagne, coque de chocolat Opalys.
Les Crayères, 64 blvd. Henry-Vasnier 51100 Reims (Marne) France
Tél. : + 33 (0)3 26 24 90 00