What were you doing in 1996, 1995, or 1990? Julien Duval-Leroy asks this question as we taste through three wonderful vintage Duval-Leroy Femme de Champagne. These three Champagnes took me back in time, to reminisce, to laugh, to smile, and think back to those special moments as if time had stood still. Champagne Duval-Leroy is one of the few family run Champagne houses, founded in 1859 in Vertus, a village in the Côte des Blancs region of Champagne. Carol Duval-Leroy along with her son Julien were in New York City last week at the charming Parisian inspired Champagne parlor Air’s, to launch their 1996 Duval-Leroy Femme de Champagne.
Duval-Leroy is a French Institution dedicated to making premier Champagne since 1859. Known for high quality, innovation and commitment to producing Champagne of finesse, lightness and elegance. The Champagnes exudes terroir and tradition. Edouard Leroy a wine trader had partnered with Jules Duval a grape grower from Vertus to found Duval-Leroy in 1859. There are 200 hectares(490 acres), mostly planted to Chardonnay in villages classified as Grand Cru and Premier Cru. In Vertus, in the Côtes des Blancs, Chardonnay grows best.
Today this Champagne house is run by a remarkable woman Carol Duval-Leroy. Duval-Leroy has been handed down from father to son since the 1800’s, but in 1991 Carol Duval-Leroy took over running the house after the sudden death of her husband. With Carol running the company, Duval-Leroy has become one of the most prestigious Champagne house in the world. Carol has not only contributed to the success of Duval-Leroy but the region as a whole. With many awards and accolades, she was the first woman ever to be appointed as Chairman of the Association Viticole Champenoise (AVC). Today Duval-Leroy is the only Champagne house to have a woman CEO and a woman cellar master.
The focus of Duval-Leroy is to make prestigious cuvee, though innovation and creativity. They were the first Champagne house to produce certified organic brut Champagne and also the first company to use sustainable viticultural practices. They were also the first vat room in the world to combine photovoltaic solar panels, a rainwater harvesting system and a green wall for heat and sound insulation.
Through their focus on gastronomy, Duval-Leroy Champagnes are available in over 250 Michelin starred restaurants around the world. Carol spoke to us about her “Haute Couture” approach to Champagne. They work with sommeliers and chefs around the world to hand make customized small lot Champagnes(haute couture like fashion houses) for some of the best restaurants and chefs around the world. Their grapes from their grand cru vineyards allow them to make prestigious bubbly for haute cuisine.
Femme de Champagne
Femme de Champagne is named in honor of The Lady of Champagne, Carol Duval-Leroy. Carol and Chef de Cave, Sandrine Logette-Jardin work closely together to produce this elegant cuvee. The Champagne is a beautiful expression of the passion, dedication and commitment of both these exceptional women. Femme de Champagne is produced only in the best vintages from the most prestigious grand cru plots of Côtes des Blancs. Carol and Sandrine release each vintage only when it is perfectly mature. So you can imagine what an honor it was to share these bubbles with Carol personally.
I cannot say enough how incredibly special these Champagnes are. They are beautiful wines that evoke emotions, memories and passion. The 1996 Femme de Champagne just launched in NYC, I highly recommend you seek these wines for your cellars. They are a collectors dream.
- 1996 Femme de Champagne – The Champagne was medium bodied, young, fresh, and elegant. Disgorged in March of 2017, the energy was forthcoming. The freshness was naturally exuded due to the acidity present in the wine. There was a delicate balance of acidity and fruit. The nose exuded green apples and wild flowers. There is great finesse in the wine with a silky texture. Further notes of hazelnut, brioche, spice and toasty caramel take over the palate. It is drinking wonderfully now and will develop secondary characteristics in the cellar. (79% Chardonnay, 21% Pinot Noir)
- 1995 Femme de Champagne – I was so impressed with this Champagne. It has a lovely straw yellow hue and an immediate burst of citrus, brioche, nuts and toast on the nose. The Champagne had layers of creaminess, minerality, acidity and fruit. On the palate we had lemon meringue, marzipan and fresh bread. A superb bubbly that was showing some signs of aging in the most delicate manner.
- 1990 Femme de Champagne – An honor to be drinking the last few bottles of this wine. The wine exhibited finesse and structure that I associate with Duval-Leroy. There was zippy acidity and the fruit was still incredibly fresh and vibrant. The wine had lemon, citrus, and deep floral notes. Even at 27 years the Champagne had persistent, strong, fine bubbles. A special wine for a special occasion. Must seek out for a memorable experience.