Champagne Lallier launches wine by new chef de cave
Réflexion R.020 is the first wine that chef de cave Dominique Demarville has created since joining Champagne Lallier in January 2021. Demarville has called it a “very emotional wine” for him.
Campari launched the first wine that chef de cave Dominique Demarville has made for the Champagne Lallier brand — Réflexion R.020 — with a special themed dinner in Paris last week.
The event was held in L’Hôtel des Italiens, the majestic Haussmann building in the heart of Paris, in the rotunda designed by Gustave Eiffel under the vast 20-metre-high, domed glass roof.
Attended by international press, the launch saw guests welcomed by Christophe Prat, managing director, French Icons at Campari, which completed the purchase of the Lallier brand from Francois Thibault in the first half of 2020. Campari quickly installed Demarville as Lallier’s cellarmaster and general manager, giving a strong indication of their high ambition for the brand.
Reflexion R.020, which is based on the fine 2020 harvest, is the sixth such wine that this Aÿ-based house has produced since previous owner Thibault introduced this new style of multi-vintage blend as R.O10, based on the 2014 harvest, back in 2017.
Speaking at the launch event, Demarville said: “The concept of Reflexions particularly interested me because it is a little bit different and now people in Champagne are looking to do new things with their non-vintage [Brut Sans Année] offering. This cuvée is numbered according to the harvest base year which makes up the vast majority of each such blend.
“We don’t use a high level of reserve wine in these cuvées. We are not looking for consistency as such, but rather it’s more about revealing the character of the base year,” Demarville added. ” Réflexion R.020 is a very emotional wine for me, it’s the first blend I have made at Lallier, although I wasn’t actually there during the harvest, I joined the company in early 2021.
“It’s the first such wine where we have a majority of Chardonnay in the blend (51%). Chardonnay was the success story of 2020, which was a very warm harvest, even hotter than 2003, and we started picking in mid-August. It’s the Chardonnay that brings the purity of fruit we expect in the Lallier style. It has a very long finish with a silky palate.”
To the 81% of the assemblage that 2020 accounts for, Lallier has added 10% of 2019 and 9% of 2018, which according to Demarville was “a very fruity and intense vintage.”
“We are looking for the four key elements of the Lallier style in this signature cuvée: purity, freshness, intensity and depth,” Demarville said.
Disgorged in April 2023 it has a dosage of 7gms/l.
Talking to Demarville at the dinner he told the drinks business he’s also looking “for more textural complexity” and to help with that some 3% of the blend was kept and aged in oak barrels.
“The spices [from the oak] help bring more intensity to the wine,” he said.
Demarville is keen to extend the use of oak at Lallier and as part of the project to build a new winery at the facility in Oger, significant investment by new owners Campari will also allow him to build a new cuverie for oak ageing in barrels and large foudres.
In a new collaboration for the Réflexion programme Lallier also worked with three craftspeople “whose ethos and values echo the brand’s philosophy.”
Working closely with Demarville on the menu for the launch dinner to accompany each cuvée of Réflexion – the new R.020 served in bottle, plus R.016 in magnum and R.015 in Jeroboam — was Gregory Marchand, Michelin starred chef of renowned institution Frenchie.
Food was served on wooden hand-carved bowls created by Sophie Sellu, a woodworker from London, working solely with storm felled, sustainably sourced, reclaimed timber, while perfumer Marie Le Febvre, based in Berlin, created a special fragrance matching some of the spices, floral and citrus notes showing in the new Réflexion R.020.
“Gregory, Sophie and Marie’s crafts and creative processes perfectly echo the work that we at Lallier collectively do when creating our Champagne and it is amazing to see nature’s influence across such a variety of disciplines,” said Demarville.