On our champagne wine tours you learn how it is made – and how it is drunk
Champagne is a popular destination for our wine tours. It is conveniently close to Paris and, of course, it is a very interesting region to visit. To fully understand the way champagne is made you have to go there and see for yourself.
When we visit Champagne with our groups one of our favourite houses to visit is Champagne Duval-Leroy. The house is situated in the southern part of the Côte des Blancs, in the village of Vertus. Last time we were there we talked a lot about Duval-Leroy’s sustainability program. We looked at the solar panels that cover the walls of the cellar and we also tasted one of their organic champagnes.
On top of a very interesting visit we also had a delicious lunch. I don’t remember everything we ate but I do remember everything we had in our glasses which was a selection of the very best from Duval-Leroy.
We started with the vintage 1999 as an aperitif. And what a start. Full-bodied and complex, yet elegant, it drinks perfectly well now.
It was followed by the Brut Premier Cru with the starter, fresh, with minerals and a long, dry finish. For the main course we had the lovely Femme 1996 with grand cru chardonnay and a touch of pinot noir aged in oak barrels. 1996 was a superb vintage. The long ageing on the lees gives complexity, creaminess and a hint of toast.
We still had some room for cheese. The organic AB (agriculture biologique) Brut with 100 % pinot noir was a perfect match. The grapes come from a single village in the Aube district and the champagne shows the typical pinot characteristics with quite a lot of power and concentration but also fruit and freshness.
To end the meal in style we were served Lady Rose with the dessert. This is a slightly sweet rosé champagne made from pinot noir. The colour comes from skin contact and not from adding red wine to the white; an unusual (and perhaps more “true”?) way of making rosé champagne.
A perfect ending to a perfect meal. Don’t you just love French lunches?
But to be honest, I could almost (but only almost) say that this was “just another lunch in champagne”. The meals we have on our Champagne tours are … just fabulous.
And drinking champagne all through the meal? You bet!