While traveling down the Champagne Trail in the Champagne Region of France, we were told that the accepted protocol is if the champagne house gates are open then the owners are prepared to greet guests with a champagne tasting. We were very happy we took this advice because that was how we discovered the Champagne LeLarge-Pugeot Winery, in the village of Vrigny, not far from Reims. Dominique LeLarge and his wife Dominique Pugeot are the seventh generation owners of this winery. In 1987 when they took over, the former LeLarge winery became Champagne LeLarge-Pugeot. In 2012, the 8th generation joined the team, and their daughter Clemence began as the Global Brand Ambassador. The LeLarge-Pugeot family is passionate about their sustainable and organic wine production:
Dominique LeLarge and his wife Dominique Pugeot
Some bubbly friends of ours recently surprised us with a bottle of Lelarge Pugeot Quintessence Premier Cru Brut! This champagne is made of 70% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir, and 10% Pinot Meunier grapes.
Made from 50-year-old vines, this is a fine wine with a steely minerality. Partial fermentation in oak gives it complexity without detracting from its elegant fruitiness. A hint of buttered toast compliments the floral and white fruit notes. Delightful!
Dominque and Dominque are always thinking of sustaining the “wine growing” process for the next generation. As they explain, “We do not make wine, we grow wine and we pay attention to every single step of viticulture and winemaking in order to elaborate natural Champagnes that reflect the taste of the terroir and our know-how.” In 2010, Champagne-Lelarge Pugeot began its shift to organic farming. Among the new organic alternatives, Dominique uses only trace elements, sulfur and copper against vines related diseases. They use horses to plough in some plots in order to fight the compaction of the soil. It was amazing to see the size of these stately horses (this horse was named “Ursula”) as they ploughed the earth between the rows of grape vines.
One of my favorite things on our visit to the winery ~ meeting “Dixie” the family’s Australian Shepard. Wherever we went in the vineyard Dixie was always a few steps ahead of us, proudly showing us her vineyard!
LeLarge-Pugeot Winery was the first place I observed roses blooming at the end of each row of grape vines. Roses and grape vines are susceptible to the same diseases. Roses are planted at the end of the rows of grapes vines so that the winemaker can be alerted to any disease or stress on the roses which will signal them to take precautions to protect the grape vines from disease.
As we walked through the vineyard Dominique called to me to stop and take a deep breath. As I did, the most wonderful whiff of blooming Pinot Noir greeted me. We were fortunate to be in the vineyard during the short week called “Bloom”. That is the time when the baby grape clusters actually flower, get fertilized and begin their adventure to become full-grown grapes. A subtle, very light fruity aroma. I shall never forget that lovely moment standing in the sunshine breathing in that delightful scent.
Visiting LeLarge Pugeot Champagne House was pure serendipity.
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