Sandrine Logette-Jardin

Sandrine Logette-Jardin

Champagne Duval Leroy (chef de cave)

Sandrine Logette-Jardin is the chef de cave of Duval-Leroy in Vertus, a village in the Côte des Blancs region. Established in 1859, Duval-Leroy remains family owned; its owner and CEO since 1991 is Carol Duval-Leroy. Sandrine joined the champagne house in 1991, immediately after completing her enology degrees, and was appointed its chef de cave in 2005, the first woman ever to hold such a position in the Champagne region.

Our visit with Sandrine began and ended with wonderful conversation and excellent champagnes that we later describe. It was made all the more enjoyable by Sandrine’s straightforward manner, warmth, and sense of humor.

Sandrine grew up in the Champagne region loving science and nature. She developed this capacity for nature growing up in a family in which her father did viticulture and her mother gardened and canned with her two daughters. When she was 19 years old, her goal was to transform natural products, a reflection of her self-description of being “very gourmande.” This led to obtaining a degree in enology in 1990, followed by the Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieures Spécialisés in Oenologie des Vins de Champagne.

When she completed her schooling at the age of 23, Sandrine knew that as a woman it would be hard to find a job and that she would need to have a strategy. Women were not even allowed in the cellar at that time! Luckily, a strategy was presented to her by Duval-Leroy: initially hired into a lab position, within six months her boss asked her to head up quality control. She became employed full-time in the role of Quality Manager, a position she held until December 2005. During this period, she guided the challenging implementation of the ISO 9002 standard for quality management; Duval-Leroy became the first champagne house to be granted this certification. In 2005, Carol Duval-Leroy asked her to be chef de cave.

Sandrine mentioned a second strategic decision: when to have children. Sandrine was already married when she was hired by Duval-Leroy, and knew that she had to wait to have a baby to show that she “can do the job” and be ready for further responsibilities. She planned well and has two daughters, ages 22 and 16 years old.

We asked Sandrine what it takes to be a successful chef de cave. She responded, “a capacity for analysis and the ability to imagine the changes that are needed.” During her more than 10 years as chef de cave, she has imagined and implemented many changes including new methods for vinification, a revamping of the house’s oak barrel regime, and making the decision to leave all Duval-Leroy wines unfined to retain their purity.

Sandrine thinks the field is “more open for women today, but it is not more easy.” She noted that it is helpful to show that women can vinify and be in the cellar, but the industry is taking longer for women to be included than it should. Her advice to women is to have comportment, to be oneself, and not to adapt to others’ expectations of you.

The Wines. We met with Sandrine late on a Friday afternoon, and our timing could not have been better. It had been a busy week with visitors, and a number of excellent champagnes, some of which had been opened earlier, were generously shared with us. We first tasted the delicious Duval-Leroy 2006 Brut Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs from Sandrine’s first vintage as chef de cave. We next enjoyed the lively and complex 2006 Extra Brut Premier Cru Clos Des Bouveries, followed by the exquisite Premier Cru Rosé Prestige. We ended with the Brut Grand Cru Femme de Champagne, Duval-Leroy’s excellent prestige cuvée!