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Oenology

Duval-Leroy Champagne

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Duval-Leroy is a family business,established in 1859 through the merger of two Champagne growers. The company is still based in its village of origin, Vertus, located in the C?te de Blancs.

Handed down from father to son, it has remained independent for 148 years.

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With five hundred hectares of vines,Vertus, with only 2500 inhabitants, is now the second largest wine-growing district in the Champagne region, after Les Riceys.

It has had rather an eventful history. Animportant regional centre during the Middle Ages, it was entirely destroyed once during the Hundred Years? War and then again during the Second World War.Today it enjoys its status as a thriving community based on its qualificationas one of the top Premier Cru rated areas in Champagne.

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Champagne

The independent supply of Chardonnay,Meunier and Pinot Noir grapes found on the family?s 200 hectares, on a scalerarely found in Champagne, provides one quarter of the company?s annual grape requirement. A major asset, it guarantees the quality and consistency ofDuval-Leroy Champagne.

The delicate balance of three grape varietiesgives the wine all its characteristics, but because it is in the C?te desBlancs, Chardonnay predominates. The vines, the sun and the rain decide each year on the quality of the grapes. Nevertheless, the involvement of the skilled artisan is essential to ensure that the harvest reveals all its potential.

At Duval-Leroy, more than 30 people manage the vineyard all year round, giving each vine the attention and loving carethat it needs. For the harvest, 400 grape pickers join the permanent staff for the major event in the wine grower?s calendar.

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The in-house presses receive the grapes asthey are picked along with those purchased from other wine growers.

Among the three Champagne grape varieties,Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier, Chardonnay is the only one that produces a white grape with white juice. The other two produce black grapes with white juice.

The harvest must be done in the bestpossible conditions and the pressing must be done immediately after harvesting to avoid oxidation of the grapes. That is the reason why Champagne Duval-Leroyhas five pressing centres, containing 16 presses, all located in the Champagnearea. The must, or grape juice, is transferred by tankers to the winery inVertus to begin the wine-making process.

Duval-Leroy develops its own blends, ajealously-guarded secret, known only to the chefde cave, which give a special quality and enduring consistency to the wines. However, the sophistication,lightness and elegance that have distinguished Duval-Leroy champagnes for overa hundred and fifty years do reveal part of the secret: the predominance of the Chardonnay grape in the wines produced on the estate.

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Sixteen million bottles then spend betweentwo and seven years in the Duval-Leroy cellars, depending on the cru. Thestillness that reigns in the dimly-lit kilometres of passages that make up theCray?res fascinate visitors, but all is not what it seems.

Once bottled, the wine starts a secondfermentation, a delicate process where the unhurried passing of time will laterguarantee fine quality bubbles.

A long ageing process now starts in theoptimal conditions provided by the darkness, adequate humidity and constanttemperature of the Duval-Leroy chalk cellars.

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DisgorgingProcess

Once the impurities are in the bottleneck,the disgorging process can start. This takes place using a very precise tool that measures temperature; the wine in the bottleneck is frozen, creating anice cube containing the impurities. Once this ice plug is ejected due to thepressure in the bottle, the wine will then receive the dose of liquor that willdetermine whether it becomes a brut or demi-sec champagne. As a finishing touch the characteristic champagne cork and traditional cork wire can be added.

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Duval-Leroy

Since its creation, Champagne Duval-Leroyhas been located in Vertus. Headed by Carol Duval-Leroy since 1991, the companyis one of the few remaining 100 per cent family-owned Champagne firms and isranked in the 15 top Champagne houses.

Steady growth each year ensures the familyfirm will stay on top.? In 1970, it sold400,000 bottles; in 2000, it was four million; and in 2006, it reached 5.2million bottles.

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MadameCarol Duval-Leroy,

Madame CarolDuval-Leroy, the president of Champagne Duval-Leroy, joined the very select group of women involved in running champagne houses in 1991. After the suddenloss of her husband that same year, she became the company chairwoman. For tenyears, the modernisation of production processes, the development of traditionaldistribution channels, the increased product range and expanded exports are allobjectives that Carol Duval-Leroy has set for her company. Today the brand?swhole image bears the mark of her passion for his profession

?Over the past fifteenyears my key priority has been to raise the quality of all our products to thehighest level possible. The mark of our success in this endeavour has beenshown in the number of top awards and medals that Duval-Leroy obtains regularlyat national and international competitions.

?Fostering a spirit of dynamism which leads tothe satisfaction for our customers through the pleasure and enjoyment derivedfrom drinking our champagnes. Ownership of a prime vineyard estate and excellent partnership relations with our grape suppliers, loyal and motivated staff, state-of-the-art plant and equipment in continual improvement and expansion means we are constantly striving for constant upward improvement,solid progress, and individual and collective development.?

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