ADVERTORIAL • August 2019
When it comes to a celebration, you can’t beat a good bottle of bubbly. Enter Canard-Duchêne with its award-winning Champagne production spanning over 150 years. Here’s why this esteemed Champagne house is the ultimate in bottled glamour
If romance hadn’t blossomed between Victor Canard and Léonie Duchêne, there might be no Champagne house at all. Victor was a barrel maker, Léonie a wine-grower’s daughter; aside from each other, they had another passion – winemaking. Recognising the potential of the delicate hillside vines that surrounded their picturesque village of Ludes, in the heart of Montagne de Reims in northeast France, the husband-and-wife team set up Maison Canard-Duchêne in 1868, producing their own unique Champagne.
In 1890, Victor and Léonie’s son Edmond took over the business and began to explore international markets. In what was a stroke of genius, he secured a contract to be the official supplier of Champagne to the Court of Tsar Nicolas II of Russia. Shortly afterwards, Canard-Duchêne was granted the right to adopt the Imperial coat of arms as part of its logo and, to this day, the Crown double-headed eagle stands proud on each and every label.
As any oenophile knows, wine-making is all about the terroir. Lying between the Marne and the Vesle rivers, the vast natural expanse of the Montagne de Reims boasts a nutrient-rich soil – the product of 70 million years of evolution and a unique combination of limestone, chalk, clay and sand – ideal for growing vines. Little wonder Victor and Léonie created their domaine in this prestigious region of Champagne.
The pinot noir grape loves a cool climate and chalky soil, and Montagne de Reims can offer both, which explains why it is planted in over 60 percent of the region. It’s this noble grape variety that gives Canard-Duchêne such a characteristic identity, bringing intense, fruity notes of cherry, sour cherry, blackberry, redcurrant, strawberry and raspberry to the wine. And, of course, despite the grape’s dark purple skin it creates a colourless pulp and clear juice.
Every house needs a Cellar Master – someone who is responsible for the Champagne-making process from harvest to corking, and beyond. The man behind the bubbles at Canard-Duchêne is Laurent Fédou who, for 15 years, has brought his considerable savoir-faire to the brand. Always striving to maintain that balance between moving the art of Champagne-making forwards without losing any of the celebrated tradition, Fédou is driven by instinct, creativity and curiosity – all qualities requisite in producing first-class fizz.
Two World Wars may have taken their toll on the domaine’s chateau, but its limestone cellars remain intact and are still in use today. Hand-carved in the 19th-century, they span an incredible four miles across four levels – and are between 40ft and 60ft deep. Visitors can explore them on a wine tour with an experienced guide who will share Canard-Duchêne’s history and the different stages of the Champagne production process. Choose from three different tours, including the Tour Charles VII which finishes with two flutes of the celebrated Champagne Charles VII.
The domaine, acquired in 2003 by entrepreneur Alain Thienot, continues to flourish, garnering awards and a loyal following who appreciate the beautifully-balanced, reasonably-priced Champagne. It is said that a bottle of Canard-Duchêne is opened every 15 seconds in France, though it is well-respected worldwide. Last year, the house celebrated its 150th anniversary with a new cuvée, V, which embodies both its history and Fédou’s expertise. Victor and Léonie would be proud.
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